Brazil's stars stay home & Ronaldo's spare pair of knees
Dearest Brazilian football fans, weÃ¢ÂÂre back!
And by Ã¢ÂÂweÃ¢ÂÂ I mean not only this blog, but also the excitement, drama and nonsense of the beautiful game in the beautiful land.
And, boy, this year is a promising one. With the world economic crisis preventing the European clubs from splashing the cash on transfers, the top Brazilian prospects stayed at home, for the first time in centuries.
Getting to watch an encore of Europe-bound players like SÃÂ£o PauloÃ¢ÂÂs Hernandes or InternacionalÃ¢ÂÂs Alex is an unexpected bonus.
Plus, thereÃ¢ÂÂs a zestful breed ready to shine, such as PalmeirasÃ¢ÂÂ Keirrison and SantosÃ¢ÂÂ Neymar. No wonder expectations are already high for the National Championship, which starts in May.
Keirrison: Leading Brazil's new wave of talent
Meanwhile, the State Championships - the classical tournament that opens the football season in Brazil - are already underway. And, so far, no surprises.
In the countryÃ¢ÂÂs most important regional tournament, SÃÂ£o Paulo stateÃ¢ÂÂs Paulista Championship, the top dogs are already ruling the roost.
Palmeiras, Corinthians, SÃÂ£o Paulo and Santos appear to be cruising towards the semis. While minnows Barueri, who last year clinched a spot in the National Championship elite, are jogging along on the outside lane.
Things will surely heat up when the giants begin clashing Ã¢ÂÂ the first taking place on Sunday, when the revitalised Palmeiras under coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo (six wins out of six so far this season) face unlucky Santos, who last week hit the post six times and lost 2-0 to Ituano.
Speaking of bad luck, there's no surprises on the Ronaldo front neither.
"Oops, I did it again..."
The Phenomenon is practicing as hard as he can during the day to be fit to play again, as he has done for a good share of his injury-plagued career. But apparently heÃ¢ÂÂs playing hard at night too.
Pictures of the ace partying wildly in a nightclub called Pink Elephant might have cost him his relationship with fiancee Bia Antony. (Poor guy, he was just looking for a spare pair of knees. See the last photo here)
On the upside, at least this time he was caught with real women.