By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Sunday, November 6th, São Paulo’s SE Palmeiras football (soccer) club defeated Internacional, 1×0, to take a commanding six point lead in the standings of the 2016 Campeonato Brasileiro Série A (Brasileirão) with only four more rounds of games to go. Rio’s CR Flamengo played with cross-town rival Botafogo to 0x0 draw on Saturday, November 5th, dropping the Rubro-Negra to third place with 63 points.
Following this weekend’s slate of games, the sports website, Infobola, which uses statistical analysis and computer models to break down Brazilian football games, predicted that, with four games to go, Palmeiras has a 91 percent chance of winning this year’s Brasileirão. Second place team, Santos, has only a seven percent chance to still win the championship, while third place Flamengo has a now unlikely two percent chance.
Palmeiras’ game at Allianz Parque on Sunday was a battle between teams at opposite ends of the table, with Palmeiras leading the league facing off against an Inter club fighting to avoid relegation.
Despite the home team being heavy favorites going in, goals were few and far between in a defensive battle that saw an early first half goal end up deciding the game. A Palmeiras corner kick at the sixteenth minute, led to an Inter defensive block that sent the ball high into the air.
Opportunistic Palmeiras midfielder, Thiago Santos, launched his head into the loose ball poking a perfect pass into the waiting foot of teammate, Cleiton Xavier, who promptly kicked the ball into the back of the net. Cleiton’s goal would be all that Palmeiras needed for the 1×0 victory, giving the club an almost insurmountable lead in the Brasileirão table.
While Palmeiras has been surging going into the final weeks of the season, Flamengo, has been moving in the opposite direction. Entering the game against Botafogo, on Saturday, November 4th, the Rubro-Negra had not won in its last three games. The club’s lackluster play continued on Saturday with neither club able to mount an effective offense, ending in a scoreless draw.
With Flamengo’s loss, coupled with Santos’ 2×1 win over Ponte Preta, Santos moves into second place in the table with 64 points, with Flamengo dropping to third with 63 points.