For the first time this season, some Brasileirão clubs were without a league fixture this weekend as América-Vasco and Corinthians-Grêmio were both rescheduled due to the latter rounds of the Copa do Brasil. For the other sixteen clubs in the most competitive top-flight in the world though, eight exciting fixtures would make up matchweek fifteen as the mid-season transfer window continues in a typically competitive campaign.
Veteran left-backs Marcelo and Filipe Luís faced off in two all-Madrid Champions League finals in Europe, but in the season’s fifth Fla-Flu derby already in all competitions they met in Brazil for the first time as starters. Before a raucous crowd at the Maracanã, a match with plenty of chances was instead dominated by fouls, as Jorge Sampaoli’s men couldn’t score despite a promising first half before a magnificent Jhon Arias goal for Flu was disallowed by VAR on the hour mark.
Tricolor would be the more active side in the second period as the kicks and pushes multiplied in a clássico which ended on a ridiculous 45 fouls, but Gabriel Barbosa would have his shirt off in celebration when a stunning volley looked to have sealed a late Mengão win – just for VAR to call a foul in the build-up AGAIN to even out its impact on the two sides. 0-0 it would finish, but not before a late Luiz Araújo red card in a derby that had everything but a goal.
MARCELO TIRA EL CAÑO Y SE RÍE. 🎩🇧🇷pic.twitter.com/ReeKCUZV6O
— Sudanalytics (@sudanalytics_) July 16, 2023
In a league table incredibly tight in and around the Libertadores and Sudamericana places, São Paulo have been making a slow and steady rise under new manager Dorival Júnior, playing an attractive brand of football along the way. In another local rivalry at Morumbi, SPFC hosted the San-São derby against struggling Santos and quickly made sure there was no sign of an upset as former West Ham striker Jonathan Calleri bagged a brace within the first 45 through a penalty and a well-placed header.
The hosts would decorate the result in the closing stages firstly through substitute David, before the moment of the weekend – former Selecão striker Alexandre Pato, the man who has just returned for his third spell with the club, saved the best for last with a nicely worked first goal back… and this will take some beating for the celebration of the season!
𝙂𝙊𝙊𝙊𝙊𝙊𝙊𝙊𝙊𝙊𝙊𝙊𝙊𝙊𝙊𝙊𝙇 𝘿𝙊 𝙎𝘼𝙊 𝙋𝘼𝙐𝙇𝙊
🏆 Campeonato Brasileiro
🆚 São Paulo 4×0 Santos
⚽ Alexandre Patopic.twitter.com/9VThDTPmwV
— Mais Tricolor (@maistricolorr) July 16, 2023
Interim Botafogo manager Claudio Caçapa made light work of the task of replacing departed head coach Luís Castro with a perfect record from his three league matches leading the unstoppable league leaders going into their meeting with Red Bull Bragantino.
Pedro Caixinha’s visitors were on impressive form themselves, unbeaten in five Brasileirão outings, and forced some good saves from Lucas Perri on the night – but despite a goalless first half, the Fogão show would roll on as a defensive miscommunication led to Eduardo passing home the hosts’ opener, before Enghenão could really celebrate when Argentine right-back Leonel Di Plácido unleashed a fine finish to secure a 2-0 win. Caçapa was paraded by fans after the match for his flawless contribution to a potentially special season for Botafogo – Bruno Lage will now replace him.
De mãos dadas, jogadores do líder Botafogo saúdam os torcedores no Nilton Santos. Depois, o interino Caçapa é jogado para o alto em triunfo! São quatro vitórias em quatro jogos sob o comando do treinador, que vai dar lugar ao contratado Bruno Lage! pic.twitter.com/Drw5OAhO4x
— ge (@geglobo) July 16, 2023
Defending champions Palmeiras were Fogão’s closest competitors in the early stages of the season, but a sudden downturn in form left them in fifth going into their trip to face Internacional this weekend. Abel Ferreira’s men would have the better chances as both goalkeepers played their part, but the encounter would finish goalless in a result which is not much use to either side – especially the visitors who incredibly are now winless in five.
Fortaleza could have leapfrogged the champions if they continued their fine form at home to Cuiabá, but goalkeeper João Ricardo’s early error would gift an opener to Deyverson, and the visitors from Mato Grosso would successfully defend their 1-0 lead to continue their unlikely ascent under returning boss António Oliveira.
Superstar teenage striker Vitor Roque’s big-money move to Barcelona was confirmed last week, but Athletico Paranaense will be delighted to know that he will see out the Brasileirão season at Arena da Baixada, where he continued his exceptional form with a headed opening goal against Bahia to extend his stunning league scoring streak to five – midfielder Erick got a second before the break and 2-0 it finished, leaving the visitors just one place above the relegation zone.
Atlético Mineiro were in desperate need of a win as they traveled to bottom-four Goiás on Monday, but their performance was a majorly disappointing one as the hosts enjoyed the better of the chances despite not managing a goal to seal a surprise win – Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Atlético are now a remarkable six Brasileirão matches without a win and sit 13th in the table, and a managerial change could be in the offing as the 2021 Série A winners navigate a crisis.
Vitor Roque doing the Pedri celebration 😍 pic.twitter.com/krEhSYouyd
— Blaugranagram (@Blaugranagram) July 16, 2023
In the only other match of the weekend, Cruzeiro managed a fourth game without defeat – albeit with two wins and two draws – in their goalless home draw to Coritiba, for whom an away point is a valuable one in their recent ascent from the bottom of the table. Hopefully, this is the only matchweek of the season to serve up four goalless draws!
Player of the Week: Khellven
Vitor Roque may be the centre of attention at Athletico Paranaense, but his goal against Bahia on Sunday was much down to the wonderful delivery of Furacão right back Khellven, who assisted again just ten minutes later with another wide delivery to set up Erick.
An impressively rounded full-back with a remarkable amount of first-team football under his belt despite his age of 22, the Athletico mainstay has developed into one of the country’s best in his position with well over 100 league appearances across five seasons for the club, and much like Roque is a shining example of a brilliantly constructed squad which is one of the youngest in the Brasileirão – an international breakthrough is not an unreasonable ambition as the era of Carlo Ancelotti beckons.
— Athletico Paranaense (@AthleticoPR) July 16, 2023
Next weekend’s round of fixtures has Palmeiras hosting Fortaleza as the champions seek a much-craved win in a top-six clash, whilst leaders Botafogo travel to Santos and Atlético meet Grêmio in a very tasty encounter – BTL’s Brasileirão round-up will have it all covered!
By: Martin Crawford / @crawford7martin
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Ricardo Moreira – Getty Images