The Brazilian top flight’s seventh gameweek boasted some seismic fixtures this week, and the world’s most competitive league did not disappoint. Clashes at both ends of the table as well as the 413th edition of one of Brazil’s most famed rivalries created a stage for the league’s big players to step up, with coaches’ futures uncertain and atmospheres rowdy as ever.
After losing their perfect league record last week in a surprise defeat to Goiás, Botafogo had the perfect chance to restate their title credentials in a daunting showpiece fixture against city rivals and fellow title hopefuls Fluminense. In an intensely competitive and tight affair, it was Cuesta who won the clássico for Fogão with a scrappy goal characteristic of the match as a whole – the only goal of the match, given after a lengthy VAR check, sealed a truly priceless three points for Luís Castro’s league leaders to create a three-point cushion at the top of the table.
— Botafogo F.R. (@Botafogo) May 20, 2023
All eyes were on Porto Alegre on Sunday, as Arena do Grêmio played host to one of the most notorious derbies on the continent between Grêmio and Internacional. Inter entered the blue and black cauldron as, sensationally, the league’s lowest scorers amidst a dismal run of form – a perfect contrast with their newly promoted rivals, who had the timeless goalscoring gifts of Luís Suarez to light up the vibrant atmosphere with an outrageous long-range finish after just 6 minutes.
A second from Villasanti put Tricolor in dreamland before halftime, and despite the ever-combative Walter Kannemann’s deserved red card, Suárez turned provider for a fine Bitello finish to put the game to bed – an eventual 3-1 home win to cast serious doubt over Mano Menezes’ future in charge at Beira-Rio.
Another for the 2023 Luis Suárez highlights reel 🔥
— B/R Football (@brfootball) May 22, 2023
Winless Coritiba travelled to Belo Horizonte as unfancied underdogs against on-form Atlético Mineiro on Saturday, in a fixture which isn’t a clássico – someone should’ve reminded that fact to the players though, as a remarkably hot-headed affair produced 13 yellow cards, with a Robson penalty giving the hosts a surprise early lead before Hyoran’s headed equaliser.
The second half started with Coxa forward Zé Roberto carelessly earning a second yellow for a late tackle on Lemos, before the tables turned on the former Fenerbahçe defender who himself was sent off for his involvement in a bust-up following his OWN side being given a late penalty – which Hulk dispatched to send the three points home with Atlético.
Santos were always going to face a hard task in their pursuit of a third consecutive Brasileirão win with unbeaten Palmeiras the visitors at Vila, but Odair Hellman’s young guns showed a backbone beyond their years in grinding out a well-fought goalless draw, leaving the champions frustrated and bereft of ideas with their solid defensive setup.
The result meant that a win at home to lowly Cuiabá would take Série B holders Cruzeiro up to second place, but Pepa’s men disappointed with their display in the Monday night fixture, falling to a 1-0 defeat which was well-deserved by the Dorados – a perfect way for them to mark the return of head coach António Oliveira.
The Brasileirão is back for another season, with the likes of Fluminense, Internacional and Corinthians seeking to end their title droughts, and Palmeiras looking to repeat their title.
— Breaking The Lines (@BTLvid) April 18, 2023
Flamengo’s meeting with Corinthians was a clash of two underperforming giants, but Jorge Sampaoli must be feeling a whole lot better than he did a few weeks ago with his side’s one goal being enough to claim a third consecutive league victory to indicate that Mengão are back on track – Timão, on the other hand, remain in a state of total disarray, incredibly now sitting third from bottom in the table.
Giants also met in São Paulo on Saturday, where SPFC hosted Vasco in the weekend’s goal fest. Dorival’s team flew into a 2-0 lead, but an unlikely Vasco fight-back came from Barros and Galazra – 19 and 21 respectively – drawing the visitors level. Cruelly for Vasco, São Paulo had a couple of decisive youngsters of their own, with Lucas Beraldo and Juan – also 19 and 21 respectively – popping up to seal a 4-2 home victory in the dying stages.
Quem não vai sonhar com esse contra-ataque hoje é maluco!pic.twitter.com/SwzVwmsht7
— SPFC Info (@spfcinfoss) May 21, 2023
Elsewhere, a gorgeously hit Felipe Azevedo winner in América’s long-awaited first win of the season over Fortaleza ensured that Luís Suarez was hard-pushed for the best goal of the weekend, Bahia and Goías kicked the weekend off with an unremarkable 1-1 draw with which the hosts will be frustrated and Athletico’s winning streak was abruptly ended by Bragantino whose own Uruguayan marksman Thiago Borbas took his goal tally for his debut season in Brazil up to three.
ACORDA, CORUJA! 🤯
Que absurdo, Felipe Azevedo! O atacante do América-MG fez esse GOLAÇO na primeira vitoria do Coelho no Brasileirão! #Premiere #BrasileiraoNoPremiere #AmericaMG #BoraBoraBora pic.twitter.com/uWdseEyJRS
— Premiere (@canalpremiere) May 21, 2023
Player of the Week: Luis Suárez
Sorry, I just had to. 36 years old, first season in Brazil, adding another world-famous derby to his resumé and marking it with that? El Pistolero has finally taken his early-season form from the regional Gaúcho competition into the Brasileirão, and his line-leading masterclass on Sunday brought back all the joys of watching him at his very best. An absolute master of his craft, admirably still brimming with energy and hunger into his late thirties, and a potentially transformative signing for Grêmio’s possible ambitions this year.
Victoria clásica 👊🏼 pic.twitter.com/dj9oGN4am1
— Luis Suárez (@LuisSuarez9) May 22, 2023
Continental action is now the focus for Brazil’s top clubs, but BTL’s Brasileirão round-up will be back next week with Atlético-Palmeiras on Sunday the standout fixture. It would also be wrong not to mention Brazil’s profound support for its golden boy, Vinícius Júnior, whose disgraceful injustice in Valencia at the weekend has led to an extremely angering and depressing ordeal. The nation’s media has rightly been intensely critical of Javier Tebas, and all other relevant individuals whose cowardice has scandalously allowed racism back onto the forefront of the world’s favourite sport. Solidarity to Vini!
By: Martin Crawford / @crawford7martin
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Anadolu Agency