As we approach the halfway point in the Brasileirão season, the division is competitive as ever, despite Botafogo holding a clear lead at the top of the table as Bruno Lage took charge for the first time in the Brasileirão on Sunday. With some sides chasing continental qualification as others simply seek survival, every point counts in a finely balanced league table – certain clubs may even still be targeting a late title push. Argentine bosses Eduardo Codet and Ramon Diaz also began their tenures with Internacional and Vasco respectively this week, with the latter looking a real coup of an appointment for a side struggling against relegation.
Cuiabá were languishing in the relegation zone when they reappointed António Oliveira as manager after matchday six, but the Midwestern club – promoted to the top-flight for the first time ever in 2021 – have only lost twice since. They hosted similarly on-form São Paulo on Saturday where they gave up a stunning 72% of possession, but the visitors were wasteful on the ball.
Douradão on the other hand managed to win a penalty from a Caio Paulista foul on 58 minutes, but flamboyant forward Deyverson’s bizarre delayed run-up was no use, and his comedic missed penalty was the most watched moment of the weekend. Maintaining their momentum, they received a second spot-kick to be dispatched by Clayson seven minutes later, before Paraguayan striker Isidro Pitta came from the bench to double that lead with a well-taken first goal for the club – Nathan’s late deficit-reducer would not prevent a fifth win in ten for Cuiába under their new manager.
QUE PORRA FOI ESSA DEYVERSON??????????? pic.twitter.com/vmRhZgtiZ5
— Central do Braga (@CentralDoBrega) July 22, 2023
Grêmio’s meeting with Atlético Mineiro was a clash of giants, but whilst the newly promoted hosts sat second in the table, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s visitors entered the encounter without a win in six. Adopting a typically counter-attacking approach, Renato Gaúcho’s hosts had to thank goalkeeper Gabriel on a couple of occasions in the first half, but they held firm – and early in the second, they found the breakthrough. Midfielder Ronald Falkoski, making his first Tricolor appearance having recently returned from the U20 World Cup in Argentina, rose to score with a towering header in what would be the match-winning moment in the end. A continuation of the hosts’ exceptional form, but 2021 Brazilian champions Atlético are unbelievably now winless in seven in a developing crisis.
Gol de Ronald Falkoski.
Seu primeiro como profissional 🏻pic.twitter.com/4KirWY7guK
— Soccer News Grêmio (@soccergfbpa) July 23, 2023
Surprise runaway league leaders Botafogo had, on the other hand, won seven in a row prior to their trip to face Santos as Bruno Lage took charge of a Brasileirão match for the first time since replacing departed head coach Luís Castro. Paolo Turra’s hosts recently spent the first portion of the cash made by the sale of wonderkid Ângelo to Chelsea on Monaco midfielder Jean Lucas, and the debutant was the provider for a brilliant opening goal by 20-year-old striker Marcos Leonardo.
Peixe were in dreamland when Leonardo doubled his and his side’s tally, but we have seen enough of this Fogão team to know that the game was far from over – leading Brasileirão goalscorer Tiquinho Soares got his team off the mark before Adreylson’s header levelled on 86 minutes. The leaders had chances to make it an incredible victory, but will take the 2-2 which will have been a heartbreaking one for Santos in the circumstances.
— Football Report (@FootballReprt) July 23, 2023
Reigning champions Palmeiras had remarkably been winless in five league matches coming into the matchweek, and perennial disruptors Fortaleza were untimely opponents for Abel Ferreira’s team, equalising from the spot after Richard Rios’ early opener. In a tense second half, the packed crowd at Allianz Parque were treated to a fine Raphael Veiga strike which re-established their lead with 15 to play, before Breno Lopes’ first goal of the season sealed the vital win.
In legendary Argentine manager Ramon Diaz’s first match in Brazilian football, his new bottom-placed Vasco side played an encouraging 90 minutes of football but still found themselves picked off by two late Athletico Paranaense goals – the 2-0 result was favourable for the on-form visitors who have now risen to fifth in the table, strengthened by the continued presence of Vitor Roque.
¡GOOOL DEL PALMEIRAS! Raphael Veiga y otro golazo, control para desactivar a su marca y zurdazo al segundo palo.
— Brasileirão Play (@BrasileiraoPlay) July 22, 2023
Interim Coritiba manager Thiago Kosloski managed a very impressive 7 points from his first three games as he looked to lift them from the relegation zone, and his fourth was against new interim Brazil boss Fernando Diniz and Fluminense on Monday. Giving up most of the ball, Grandão took their chance to open the scoring from the spot through Robson, before Matheus Bianqui waltzed past Felipe Melo to tee up Diogo who doubled their lead before the half-hour mark – 2-0 would be how it finished in a shock result.
América Mineiro also thought they had achieved an upset when Felipe Azevedo volleyed home the opener with just 5 minutes to play against Flamengo at the Maracanã, but impressive young midfielder Victor Hugo would rescue a point for Mengão with an outstanding header in the 96th minute – Jorge Sampaoli’s men remain third-placed in the table.
Elsewhere, Goiás lifted themselves from the bottom four with a smash-and-grab 1-0 victory away to Cruzeiro, struggling pair Corinthians and Bahia will both be dissatisfied with their goalless draw on Saturday and Edouardo Codet’s first match at the helm of Internacional was also goalless, away to Red Bull Bragantino.
Player of the Week: Walter Kannemann
Santos double-goalscorer Marcos Leonardo and Palmeiras orchestrator Raphael Veiga are unlucky to miss out on the crown this week, but a defensive performance that stands out as much as that of 32-year-old former Argentina defender Walter Kannemann against Atlético does not come along every week. A combative, old-fashioned defender of the same ilk as the likes of Thiago Silva and Leonardo Bonucci, the Tricolor legend fought tooth and nail for a vital clean sheet that would seal another hard-fought win three points his team on Sunday – he really is Grêmio’s gladiator.
⚠️ Cuidado, cão feroz na zaga. Ele vai te pegar. ⚽️
— Grêmio FBPA (@Gremio) July 24, 2023
Next weekend’s Brasileirão fixture list sees Flamengo boss Jorge Sampaoli travel to Belo Horizonte to face his old employers Atlético Mineiro, whilst Vitor Roque also faces former side Cruzeiro – all the headlines will be covered on BTL’s Brasileirão round-up.
By: Martin Crawford / @Crawford7martin
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Ricardo Moreira / Getty Images