Four-horse race goes down to the wire
After eight months of breathtaking competition, the Brazilian champion will finally be crowned this Sunday.
And, for the first time in the decade, four teams arrive in the last round fighting for the title: Flamengo, Internacional, Palmeiras and SÃÂ£o Paulo.
Flamengo top the table Ã¢ÂÂ peaking just at the right time after 37 rounds Ã¢ÂÂ with 64 points.
Internacional, Palmeiras and SÃÂ£o Paulo are just behind with 62, with Inter holding the advantage on number of wins.
Since Internacional play against almost-relegated Santo AndrÃÂ© at home, Palmeiras and SÃÂ£o Paulo need to pray for a miracle.
Actually, most of their fans have already thrown in the towel.
In fact, theyÃ¢ÂÂre more than upset with the inability of their teams to hold on to the lead Ã¢ÂÂ first it was Palmeiras who blew a five-point advantage, then SÃÂ£o Paulo lost it to Flamengo last Sunday.
So apparently itÃ¢ÂÂs a two-horse race between Flamengo and Internacional Ã¢ÂÂ a situation no one imagined two or three weeks ago when both squads were aiming for a Copa Libertadores spot at best.
And for the last matchday of the tournament, destiny reserved a surprise.
FlamengoÃ¢ÂÂs last match is a home clash against GrÃÂªmio Ã¢ÂÂ Internacional's cross-town arch-enemy.
Immediately after their game last Sunday, GrÃÂªmio fans started campaigning for the team to hand over the victory to Flamengo to prevent Inter from winning their first championship since 1979.
Ã¢ÂÂField Gremio U12s against Flamengo!Ã¢ÂÂ and Ã¢ÂÂHand it overÃ¢ÂÂ signs were seen all over Porto Alegre.
Some GrÃÂªmio players Ã¢ÂÂ like Souza Ã¢ÂÂ openly admitted that they wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt like to see their squad helping out rivals.
Coach Marcelo Rospide hinted early in the week that he would put out a reserve squad in SundayÃ¢ÂÂs game, which enraged Internacional's players and board.
GrÃÂªmio fans remember that, last year, when their team was fighting against SÃÂ£o Paulo for the title, Inter played their reserves against SÃÂ£o Paulo Ã¢ÂÂ with the excuse that they were resting their starters for the Copa Sudamericana.
Ã¢ÂÂInternacional can never trust in GrÃÂªmio, the same way GrÃÂªmio can never trust Internacional,Ã¢ÂÂ exclaimed GrÃÂªmio president Duda Kroeff last Sunday.
Later, on Tuesday, he changed his mind. Ã¢ÂÂInternacional can trust GrÃÂªmio to win the game Ã¢ÂÂ not to help Internacional, but to honour GrÃÂªmio colors.Ã¢ÂÂ
HmmÃ¢ÂÂ¦ too late. Reasonable doubt was already there.
No one knows which team GrÃÂªmio will field against AdrianoÃ¢ÂÂs Flamengo on Sunday; be it the starters or the reserves.
However, theyÃ¢ÂÂll have a tough mission. More than 90,000 fans will jam pack MaracanÃÂ£ hoping to celebrate the Rubro-Negro's sixth national crown Ã¢ÂÂ their first since 1992.
Additionaly, GrÃÂªmioÃ¢ÂÂs away record this season is ridiculous: only one win in 18 matches.
So, if they are defeated, itÃ¢ÂÂs going to be hard to measure whether the players actually handed it over, or if it was simply an 'honest' loss.
Anyway, The Noise from Brazil will tune in on Sunday to check it out Ã¢ÂÂ and report back, of course, here next week.
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