By Jayme Monsanto, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – After the first round of the quarter-finals of Copa do Brasil last week, the three remaining Carioca teams are still in the action with a good chance of progressing through to the semi-finals.
Of the three – Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama – Vasco have by far the best chance, having thrashed Vitória 4-0 last week at home in the São Januário Stadium. In order to be eliminated, they would have to lose the second match by no fewer than five goals, which they are sure to avoid at all costs. Despite their relegation from Serie A last year the side is in good shape in 2009, undefeated in the league so far and with a good cup run that could see them face local rivals Fluminense in the next round.
As a further boost Carlos Alberto, a key player recently out of action because of a thigh injury, was given the all clear to play by the team’s medical department. Coach Dorival Júnior, however, said he will only use him as a last resort, and with the four goal cushion he is likely to be saved for a return in the next league game to avoid aggravating the injury.
The match against Vitória will be held Wednesday, May 20th, at the Barradão Stadium, in Salvador, Bahia at 9:50 PM. If Vasco play it safe and press home the advantage, their chances of reaching the semi-finals are huge.
Last week, Flamengo tied 0-0 with Internacional at the Maracanã stadium in the first match of their quarter-final. The Carioca team had the better of the 90 minutes but despite several good opportunities a goal never came and as a result they must now score at least once in Porto Alegre, a tall order against the side that currently sits undefeated at the top of Série A.
Flamengo sit last-but-one in the Série A championship and haven’t scored a single goal in their last three matches, but confidence will remain high, and with away goals counting double now would be the time to regain their scoring touch. The game will be held at the Beira Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre on Wednesday May 20th, at 9:50 PM.
Fluminense lost the first match of their quarterfinal 1-0 away against Corinthians, but they too still have a good chance to progress. The Paulista team’s advantage is slender, and Fluminense will have every opportunity to neutralize it on Wednesday in front of what they hope will be a packed Maracanã stadium.
Also in their favor is the dipping form of Corinthians’ star striker Ronaldo ‘Fenomeno’ who has failed to score in the last two matches, and the news that second striker Dentinho (who scored Corinthians’ goal in the 1-0 first leg victory) received a three-game suspension for aggressive play in the last round and will not be able to make the squad. The match will be held at the Maracanã Stadium, at 9:50 PM.
The fourth semi-finalist will qualify from the showdown between Ponte Preta and Coritiba. The teams tied 2-2 in the first round in Campinas, home of Ponte Preta. The second match will be held on Wednesday, May 20th at 9:50 PM, at the Couto Pereira stadium, home of Curitiba. The game will decide who will face the winner of Flamengo versus Internacional in Copa do Brasil’s semifinals.