By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Even though the 2017 Campeonato Brasileiro (Brasileirão) Série A champion has already been determined (Corinthians), for the local clubs, the 2017 season is going down to the wire with three of Rio’s big four all still in the G-6 (top six) hunt with only two more rounds to go.
In yesterday’s (November 19th) pivotal Round 36, Flamengo pounded the newly crowned champions, Corinthians, 3-0; Botafogo drew 0-0 with São Paulo; and Vasco suffered a devastating 3-1 loss to Atlético-PR.
Entering Sunday, Flamengo, Botafogo, and Vasco were all crammed in at sixth, seventh, and eighth respectively in the standings with only one point separating the three clubs.
The day’s action began with Flamengo hosting the best team in the league, the Corinthians, at Estádio Luso Brasileiro in Ilha do Governador.
Just a few days earlier (November 15th), the powerhouse club from São Paulo, also known as the Timão (Big Team), easily dispatched Fluminense 3-1 to clinch the 2017 Brasileirão championship with three games in hand and ten points ahead of the next closest team (Gremio).
With the Timão already wrapping up the championship, Flamengo ended up facing a club that had already put the 2017 season in the rear-view mirror. The Rubro-Negra took advantage of their clearly disinterested opponents scoring three goals in the first half from Mancuello, Diego, and Felipe Vizeu to easily defeat the champions 3-0.
Meanwhile, Botafogo traveled to São Paulo to face off against São Paulo in Estádio do Pacaembu. With both teams fighting for critical positions in the table, it was a surprisingly uninspired performance on the pitch. A scoreless draw was the result of a game lacking offensive creativity and ball movement from both sides.
Finally, in the nightcap, Vasco battled Atlético-PR at Arena da Baixada in Curitiba. With goals from Thiago Heleno, Douglas Coutinho, and Fabricio, Atlético-PR rose to the occasion handing the visitors a devastating 3-1 loss.
Following Sunday’s Round 36 action, the table remained largely unchanged, with Flamengo and Botafogo holding on to the sixth and seventh positions respectively.
However, with their loss, a spot in next year’s Libertadores is looking more and more improbable for Vasco who dropped one spot to ninth with only two rounds to go.
The top four clubs in the Brasileirão go directly to the group stage of next year’s Copa Libertadores. The fifth and sixth-placed teams also qualify for the Libertadores, but they enter in the second round and must win two games to reach the group stage.