Brazilian championship hotting up... finally
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 GoiÃÂ¡s to a 2-1 away victory at leaders GrÃÂªmio.
BaierÃ¢ÂÂs superb performance, which included a goal from a corner Ã¢ÂÂ or Olympic Goal, as we call it in Brazil Ã¢ÂÂ prevented the Porto Alegre squad from building a nine-point advantage over Palmeiras.
And it got worse for GrÃÂªmio. 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 MineirÃÂ£o Stadium. Diego Souza netted a class winner to shift the momentum in favour of Vanderlei LuxemburgoÃ¢ÂÂs 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 werenÃ¢ÂÂt targeted by foreign clubs, are on the rise under new coach Ney FrancoÃ¢ÂÂs management. They currently sit in 4th Ã¢ÂÂ and just staying there will be a major accomplishment.
It's now, seemingly, a two horse race for the title between GrÃÂªmio and Palmeiras Ã¢ÂÂ Cruzeiro still have an outside chance, but my guess is they too will settle for a Libertadores place.
But while Cruzeiro and GrÃÂªmio are still picking themselves up after last weekendÃ¢ÂÂs defeats, Palmeiras go into the tournamentÃ¢ÂÂs 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 GrÃÂªmio travel to Curitiba to face AtlÃÂ©tico-PR (16th) and Cruzeiro go to FlorianÃÂ³polis to face Figueirense (15th).
Will Brazilian football have a new leader?
Tune in next week...