Sizzling Santos steam towards successive-win record
Wow. TheyÃ¢ÂÂve made it 10.
With the 3-2 away win over Paulista in Jundiai Ã¢ÂÂ courtesy of another beautiful Robinho winner Ã¢ÂÂ Santos got their 10th consecutive win, including SÃÂ£o Paulo State Championship and Copa do Brasil matches.
Now the Santos squad are only two victories shy of the club record Ã¢ÂÂ a milestone achieved only four times in the 97-year club history, the last time being in 1968 by the legendary PelÃÂ©Ã¢ÂÂs Santos squad.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs early, of course: the 2010 version of 'the Village Boys' have won nothing so far. But truth be told, if you prefer to see football as a spectacle rather than a war, itÃ¢ÂÂs hard not to get carried away by the so-called 'Santastic'.
Led by recuperating ace Robinho, co-starring young sensations Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso, with maestro Giovanni as a luxury sub, Santos have been putting the beautiful back in the game.
It seems the biggest challenge to gaffer Dorival Jr, whose competent and discreet style of management drove Vasco da Gama back to the elite last year, is to keep the players clear of the hype around them.
Most of his star players are too young Ã¢ÂÂ Neymar has just turned 18, centre-forward AndrÃÂ© is 19, Ganso is 21 Ã¢ÂÂ and, with a truckload of talent in their feet, sometimes exaggerate in the flashy style of play.
This has already enraged some opponents Ã¢ÂÂ including the experienced and usually cool Ronaldo, who, after Corinthians lost 2-1 to Santos, blasted the youngsters.
Ã¢ÂÂSantos have great players, but when we had two men sent off, they started to go trickyÃ¢ÂÂ, said the Phenomenon.
"You've got to respect the opponent and always play objectively. Most of them didnÃ¢ÂÂt. They've won nothing yet in football. LetÃ¢ÂÂs see how they fare when we meet them again in the finals."
(Not a good idea to poke the fat beast, fellas.)
The most trouble-stirring incident came from Neymar; called offside, he chipped the ball over the head of Corinthians captain ChicÃÂ£o Ã¢ÂÂ the classic Brazilian chapÃÂ©u or Spanish sombrero, almost causing an uprising among the opposition.
Ã¢ÂÂI know it wasnÃ¢ÂÂt right, but I felt like doing itÃ¢ÂÂ, Neymar explained candidly after the match Ã¢ÂÂ for which Dorival Jr immediately rebuked him. ChicÃÂ£o struck back: Ã¢ÂÂI felt doing some things to him too after that play, but I didnÃ¢ÂÂt. HeÃ¢ÂÂs a spoiled child.Ã¢ÂÂ
Beefs apart, Santos will look for the 11th triumph against Portuguesa this Sunday Ã¢ÂÂ a tough away game in the CanindÃÂ© Stadium, SÃÂ£o Paulo. If they pull it off, the 12th win is almost a sure thing: itÃ¢ÂÂs the second leg of SantosÃ¢ÂÂ Copa do Brasil clash against lower-division side Naviairense next Wednesday.
If all goes to the Santastic script, the potentially record-breaking match would bring together the two clubs who ruled Brazil in the 1960s: Santos and Palmeiras, in the classic venue of Vila Belmiro.
Palmeiras has a history of spoiling Santos parties Ã¢ÂÂ in 1963, the Boys in Green won the SÃÂ£o Paulo State Championship to prevent Santos from winning an unprecedented fourth consecutive title. In fact, from 1958 to 1969, 'PelÃÂ©Ã¢ÂÂs era', only Palmeiras dared to challenge Santos.
Just look at the SÃÂ£o Paulo State Championship winners table in that span...
1958 Ã¢ÂÂ Santos
1959 Ã¢ÂÂ Palmeiras
1960 Ã¢ÂÂ Santos
1961 Ã¢ÂÂ Santos
1962 Ã¢ÂÂ Santos
1963 Ã¢ÂÂ Palmeiras
1964 Ã¢ÂÂ Santos
1965 Ã¢ÂÂ Santos
1966 Ã¢ÂÂ Palmeiras
1967 Ã¢ÂÂ Santos
1968 Ã¢ÂÂ Santos
1969 Ã¢ÂÂ Santos
So, if it wasnÃ¢ÂÂt for Palmeiras, Santos could have been an unthinkable and unmatchable 12-time consecutive champion in SÃÂ£o Paulo state.
But for the 2010 Santastic, would 13 be a lucky number against Palmeiras?