Brasileirão Week 11/12: Vasco Finally Victorious, Glorious Grêmio and Botafogo Believing

After a ten-day break, the Brasileirão has returned for a quick-fire pair of matchweeks packed with action, drama and quality. As seasonal storylines unravelled across the country, the champions faced the leaders in an epic top-table clash at Allianz Parque whilst some shock scorelines ensured that there was no shortage of entertainment in the most competitive top-flight in the world. 


It was always destined to be a defining week for surprise league-leaders Botafogo, especially after they managed a 1-0 victory at Cuiabá to ensure back-to-back victories going into their mammoth weekend clash with their closest competitors, reigning champions Palmeiras. In the most hotly anticipated match of the season, Fogão rode their luck, but their talisman and Brasileirão top-scorer Tiquinho Soares’ goal from nothing in the first half proved enough for a colossal 1-0 away victory. 



It is a result that has Botafogo fans believing – unlikely title pushes like this do not come along often. Botafogo were playing in Brazil’s second tier just 18 months ago, and here they are seven points clear at the top of the Brasileirão, with many supporters of other clubs beginning to back them as hope slowly turns to belief. Their title odds of 40/1 at the beginning of the season indicate that they are not quite the new Leicester City, but the same odds are currently being offered for Real Sociedad to win La Liga next year – this is a special story developing. 


Surrounding the celebratory weekend for Fogão however is a major dilemma for their Portuguese head coach, Luís Castro. The 61-year-old is being pursued by mega-rich Saudi side Al-Nassr, and it is even being reported that Cristiano Ronaldo has ‘jokingly’ offered to pay his €2.1 million compensation to lure him from Rio de Janeiro. An offer is currently on the table and a decision is imminent – for the sake of what is an immensely exciting storyline, let’s hope that he lets holds out to push for the ending his Botafogo career so far deserves. 



For Palmeiras, the result only worsened a disastrous week that started with a surprise late defeat to Bahia, for whom Thaciano struck in injury time to seal a famous victory. It was not the standout stumble of gameweek 11 though – that must go to Flamengo, whose exceptional run of form was emphatically ended by a sensational 4-0 thumping by Red Bull Bragantino on Wednesday. The scoreline did not flatter Pedro Caixinha’s men, who simply picked their opponents apart as young winger Henry Mosquera shone with a fine brace. 



Braga backed up the result with a comfortable win over Goiás at the weekend to leave them seventh in the table, having lost just two of their 12 league matches so far despite having the youngest squad in the division. They sit level on points with Internacional, whose patience with much-questioned manager Mano Menezes has now been rewarded with a great run of form extended by two victories this week, albeit in fixtures where victories were to be expected against Coritiba and América. 


Inter’s city rivals Grêmio have been the standout side in Porto Alegre however – having also faced Coritiba and América this week, Renato Gaúcho’s men racked up a stunning eight goals across their pair of victories to leave them second in the table, despite being newly promoted from Série B. Legendary striker Luís Suarez was rumoured to be considering retirement last week, but the message on the pitch from El Pistolero was loud and clear as he got on the scoresheet in both victories – his career is not done yet. 




Vasco Da Gama sacked head coach Maurício Barbieri after a damning home defeat to fellow strugglers Goiás meant they had gone ten league games without victory, their opening-day defeat of Atlético remaining their only triumph. William Almeida was in interim charge for Monday’s meeting with Cuiabá, and if the new manager bounce was what Vasco’s owners were after, it was exactly what they got as the newly promoted side sealed a long-awaited and well-deserved victory with Jair’s second-half penalty. 


Defeat in the Clássico Alvinegro against struggling Corinthians also spelled the end for Santos manager Odair Hellman, but in an end-to-end weekend fixture against on-form Flamengo there was to be no such new-manager bounce as Fla ran out 3-2 winners to bounce back from their midweek trouncing. Fluminense continue to battle against inconsistency but claimed four points this week, sharing the spoils in a very heated 1-1 draw with Atlético on Wednesday before coming from behind to defeat Bahia at the weekend, keeping their spot among the Libertadores places. 



Fortaleza fever is well and truly back after this week, as Juan Pablo Vojvoda’s men grounded out a pair of mighty victories over Cruzeiro and Atlético Mineiro to propel themselves to eighth in the table – the side from Ceará remain regular punchers-up in the Brasileirão thanks to their excellent defensive record, only leaders Botafogo have conceded fewer than their total of 9 so far this campaign. The weekend’s result left Atlético with a winless week after their aforementioned draw with Fluminense. 


After their defeat to Fortaleza, an incredible nine saves from Cruzeiro’s Rafael Cabral kept São Paulo at bay in a 1-0 win for Cabuloso at Independência, leaving SPFC down in 11th despite their midweek comeback win over Athletico Paranaense for whom Vitor Roque has responded to an acceleration in his proposed move to Barcelona by scoring in back-to-back games.  


Player of the Week: Bitello


Luís Suarez may be the timeless talisman up top for high-flying Grêmio, but in 23-year-old Bitello they have one of the most underrated players in Brazil. A dynamic midfielder last season in Série B, he has been moved to a wider role more recently by returning manager Renato Gaúcho where he has continued to demonstrate his ability to ‘do it all.’ Instrumental in two resounding victories for the Porto Alegre side this week and on the scoresheet in both, his employers will be desperate not to lose him in the summer transfer window as his remarkably complete game catches the eyes of scouts in Brazil and beyond.



The Brasileirão round-up will be back on BTL next week, where Atlético Mineiro look to regain form against city rivals América and Botafogo look to continue their title push in an all-Rio clash with Vasco – but will Luis Castro still be at the helm? By the time you are reading this, we could know the answer. 


By: Martin Crawford / @crawford7martin

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Daniel Ramalho / CRVG