By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The 2016 Brazilian football (soccer) league, the Campeonato Brasileiro de Futebol Série A, or Brasileirão, kicked off two weekends ago, with 38 rounds of matches to be played until the champion is crowned in December.
For most Cariocas the biggest game of the second week was the matchup between the Série A’s table leaders, Fluminense and Santa Cruz, from Recife in the state of Pernambuco. Santa Cruz striker Grafite scored the game’s first goal at seven minutes into the second half, with Fluminense quickly responding five minutes later with a free kick goal from Gustavo Scarpa.
A goal from Fluminense defender Gum two minutes later, gave the club the lead, albeit a short-lived one. At the 37-minute mark, a controversial foul was called on Fluminense’s Wellington Silva for making, what looked to be, inadvertent contact with Grafite’s leg as the striker reared back to kick.
Grafite scored his second goal on the ensuing penalty kick, giving the Northeast team the 2×2 draw with Fluminense. With the tie, Santa Cruz, sits atop the Brasileirão for now. Fluminense, has fallen to the third spot due to goal differential, and the win by Chapecoense, from city of Chapecó in the state of Santa Catarina.
In other week two action, a heroic performance from goalkeeper Paul Victor could not save Flamengo, who fell 1×0 to Grêmio after Fred scored a header for the game’s only goal early in the second half.
The loss on Sunday (May 22nd) capped a bad week for the red-and-black, who were eliminated by Fortaleza in the Brazil Cup tournament on Wednesday (May 18th). Flamengo are now sitting at 12th place in the Brasileirão table.
The slate of week two games culminated late Sunday evening with Botafogo earning its first point of the 2016 season with a 1×1 draw with Sport Club do Recife. However the club is at 17th place on the Brasileirão table.
The Brasileirão consists of several leagues, with the Série A considered the highest and most competitive, showcasing the top twenty teams in the country. Three of Rio’s big four teams are in the Série A, Flumenense, Flamengo and Botafogo, while Vasco da Gama, the 2016 Campeonato Carioca champion, remains in Série B this season.
São Paulo, meanwhile, has its four biggest clubs, Palmeiras, Corinthians, São Paulo FC and Santos, all competing in the Série A.