By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The opening round of the 2014 Campeonato Carioca saw joy for the smaller clubs of Rio de Janeiro. Of the state’s big four teams, only Flamengo took all three points, and Fluminense were defeated despite the arrival of idol Dario Conca. The pitch at the Estadio Moça Bonito was in terrible condition on Saturday, photo by Agência Photocamera. While Rio’s powerhouses have the reasonable excuse of a lack of preparation – clubs generally had ten days before this weekend’s matches – the competition could be made more interesting thanks to it. Coupled with the fact Flamengo and Botafogo are likely to field reserve teams for the majority of the state tournament and we may not see an endless run of dead rubbers during the group stages. Fluminense, Vasco, Botafogo and Flamengo may all decide to use this Campeonato Carioca as a simple pre-season exercise. Their sluggish starts allowed Madureira, Boavista and Resende to pick up points over the weekend, Volta Redonda and Resende could be two teams to watch this year after excellent campaigns in 2013. During the Taça Rio, the second phase of last year’s championship, the sides finished runners-up in the group to qualify for the semi-final stage. Unfortunately, both clubs were soundly thrashed in the knock-out matches. Botafogo beat Resende 5-0, whilst Volta Redonda succumbed 4-1 to Fluminense. With the Engenhão still out of action, several stadiums will be used aside from the Maracanã and São Januário in the city of Rio itself. Bangu’s Estadio Moça Bonita is in the west of the city, but was in dreadful condition last weekend. Bangu is famed for being the hottest neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro and the pitch resembled a desert in some areas. Over half the grass was dead the playing surface was nigh-on impossible. Flamengo were the only big team to win last weekend, photo by Alexandre Vidal/Fla Imagem. Yet in William, Bangu arguably have the player to watch in this year’s Carioca. The 22-year-old is a former Seleçao international at youth level, and has played alongside the likes of Neymar and Philippe Coutinho. He will doubtless be looking to put in an excellent shift over the next few months in a bid to earn a contract at a club competing in the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A. There are other options for fans wishing to travel around and see a little of the state of Rio, as well as take in some local football. Volta Redonda’s Raulino de Oliveira is often used for Campeonato Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores games and floodlights in corners of the ground make night games a possibility. The Moacryzão in Macaé is a picturesque little arena which has been used by Fluminense on numerous occasions. The oil rich city is also popular with tourists and is worth a long weekend visit. Going into the Carioca second round, which starts tonight, morale-boosting victories could set the smaller sides in good stead for the championship. Three “minnows” lead the race after the first round, with Flamengo in fourth place. There were victories for Nova Iguaçu, Madureira, Bangu and Cabofriense over the weekend. The second round will be spread over three days. Tuesday, Botafogo faced Bangu at São Januário Stadium (no final score at the time of publishing). Today (Wednesday) Vasco travel to Macaé, while Flamengo are away to Volta Redonda. Finally, amongst the big teams, Fluminense host Bonsucesso at the Maracanã. Brazil international striker Fred could play his first match for the Laranjeiras outfit since August. The Brazil no. 9 has his own agenda during the opening months of 2014. The forward is fighting to get back to full fitness for the FIFA World Cup. Campeonato Carioca 2nd Round Fixtures in Full: Boavista v Madureira Botafogo v Bangu Duque de Caxias v Friburguense Audax v Resende Macaé v Vasco Volta Redonda v Flamengo Nova Iguaçu v Cabofriense Fluminense v Bonsucesso 3 Responses to "Minnows Make Promising Start to 2014 Campeonato Carioca" Mauro Balbino January 22, 2014 at 12:23 PM Dear All, Minnows traditionally have a good start at the Cariocão. For example, I support one of the Big Four (Botafogo, Framengu, Fluminense & Vasco da Gama), and I know our opponents on the first round had a forty days pre-season period of preparation whilst my club had nine days… In two or three weeks time, everything will be back on track as the Big Four probably will position themselves on the top of the table. Meanwhile, some of the pitches reminded me the ones I saw in Botswana or Mozambique. Places were locals play when Elephants or Buffaloes are walking away from the draught. Absolutely disgraceful. Pingback: Flamengo Draw 2-2 with Duque de Caxias in Carioca: Daily Update | The Rio Times | Brazil News Pingback: Flamengo Draw 2-2 with Duque de Caxias in Carioca: Daily Update | The Rio Times | Brazil News Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.