By Jayme Monsanto, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Campeonato Carioca is nearing it’s end for the year. The second leg of the state championship, Taça Rio, is now at the Semi-Finals stage, and on last weekend, the four big Carioca teams dueled to see who was getting to the final. Botafogo played Vasco da Gama, while Flamengo took on Fluminense for the second weekend in a row. Both games were held at the Maracanã stadium. The former on Saturday, and the latter on Sunday.
Vasco da Gama entered Maracanã on the Saturday night with big expectations. The team was unbeaten in Taça Rio at that point, and had not lost in 15 matches. In addition to that, the last time the team took on Botafogo, Vasco won an overwhelming 4-1 victory. But Botafogo’s high morale due to the Taça Guanabara victory made the difference in the match, and the team paid back the 1-4 loss with an astounding 4-0 win. The goals were scored by Gabriel, Thiaguinho and Maicosuel, who scored twice and now is Taça Rio’s top scorer, with 12 goals; one more than Josiel (Flamengo), Bruno Meneghel (Resende) and Victor Simões (Botafogo).
On Sunday, at 4PM, for the second weekend in a row Flamengo faced Fluminense in a stadium packed with more than 70,000 soccer fans. Both Flamengo and Fluminense have won thirty State Championships each in their Carioca soccer history. The traditional rivalry of FlaFlus was noticeable, and everyone gave their best. The game was very tense and disputed until the last minute, but Flamengo prevailed in the end, winning 1-0 with a goal scored by Juan.
With these results, the state championship will be decided between Flamengo and Botafogo, for the third consecutive year. In 2007 and 2008 Flamengo won the finals, and now Botafogo will try to return the favor.
Campeonato Carioca is divided in two tournaments: Taça Guanabara and Taça Rio. The winners of each tournament play the big final. On March 1st, Botafogo guaranteed its spot on the finals after being champion of Taça Guanabara. The other spot is waiting for Taça Rio’s winner.
The Taça Rio final between Botafogo and Flamengo will happen next Sunday, 4PM, at Maracanã stadium. If Botafogo prevails, the team will be champion automatically because they already won the Taça Guanabara. In case of a Flamengo victory, the teams will face each other for two more times to see who’s the champion.