Brazilian championship hotting up... finally

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Lord almighty, I feel my temperature rising!

Alopecic midfielder and old-timer Elvis fan Paulo Baier set the Brazilian championship alight last Saturday by leading Goiás to a 2-1 away victory at leaders Grêmio.

Baier’s superb performance, which included a goal from a corner – or Olympic Goal, as we call it in Brazil – prevented the Porto Alegre squad from building a nine-point advantage over Palmeiras.

And it got worse for Grêmio. The next day, they saw their lead cut to just three points when Palmeiras beat Cruzeiro in a crucial clash between the second and third placed teams at the Mineirão Stadium. Diego Souza netted a class winner to shift the momentum in favour of Vanderlei Luxemburgo’s Boys in Green.

As the manicured gaffer predicted, the championship has turned on its head since the closure of the transfer window. Flamengo, who topped the table for most of the first half of the tournament, lost a handful of key players and are on the slide in 7th. Now, they would be more than happy bagging a Copa Libertadores spot (the top four qualify).

Flamengo: On the slide after strong start 

Botafogo, whose average players weren’t targeted by foreign clubs, are on the rise under new coach Ney Franco’s management. They currently sit in 4th – and just staying there will be a major accomplishment.

It's now, seemingly, a two horse race for the title between Grêmio and Palmeiras – Cruzeiro still have an outside chance, but my guess is they too will settle for a Libertadores place.

But while Cruzeiro and Grêmio are still picking themselves up after last weekend’s defeats, Palmeiras go into the tournament’s 26th round with their morale sky high, hoping to take top spot.

On Sunday, the Boys in Green host struggling Vasco da Gama (17th), while Grêmio travel to Curitiba to face Atlético-PR (16th) and Cruzeiro go to Florianópolis to face Figueirense (15th).

Will Brazilian football have a new leader?

Tune in next week...