SERIE A 2019
Carille, who led them to the title in 2017,
has returned as coach and the team will
hope to have rediscovered the knack of
grinding out results. They also have more
attacking options, but a title bid might be
asking too much.
Once held up as an example of sound
management, Sao Paulo are now in
political turmoil and fifth place last year
was better than anyone had a right to
expect. Even so, it still led to coaches
being sacked and assorted off-the-
pitch turbulence. This year got off to a
disastrous start with elimination from the
Libertadores in the qualifying round and
more sackings. Highly strung coach Cuca
steps into a tough environment.
Santos have gone bold with their
choice of coach: Argentina’s Jorge
Sampaoli. This is something of a battle
for the soul of Brazilian football, where
the prevalent model in recent times
has been a cautious, counter-attacking
game plan. Sampaoli takes a much
more proactive approach, favouring an
attacking style that runs risks but brings
potential rewards. It will be fascinating to
see whether the club has the resources
- and the patience – to embark on the
Sampaoli roller coaster.
Fernando Diniz will be aiming to do
something similar, but on an even more
restricted budget, with Fluminense. Some
of the early signs have been encouraging,
shoulders. Chapecoense’s annual battle
against relegation has been a regular
feature of the championship of late,
while newly promoted Avai will be happy
just to avoid dropping straight back to the
Also coming up from the second
division are Goias, the sole representative
of the central region of the country who
are back in the top flight after three
years. Mauricio Barbieri has the task of
keeping the club up and maintaining their
reputation for attractive football.
The remaining four clubs are from
the north east, a region that finds it hard
to make its size felt at national level.
Champions in 1988, Bahia finished
11th last year – their best season since
the adoption of the league format a
decade and a half ago. Enderson Moreira
will hope to keep that momentum going.
Ceara just managed to stay up last
year and an added incentive in this
campaign is the presence of their local
rivals, Fortaleza, promoted in style as
second division champions under former
international goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni.
This is the first time that both have been
in the top flight since 1993.
The final promoted side, CSA from
Maceio, have been away for over 30
years. As recently as 2015 they were
not even in the four national divisions.
They have now become the first team
to win three consecutive promotions.
Leaping from fourth to first division in
three years was a mighty achievement.
Managing to hold on to their newly won
status will be just as impressive.
but anything higher than a mid-table
finish would seem unlikely – and much
the same applies to an illustrious pair
of local rivals. Neither Ze Ricardo’s
Botafogo nor Alberto Valentim’s Vasco
da Gama have realistic title expectations.
Winning last year’s Sudamericana
Cup has raised the profile of Athletico
Paranaense, who are now widely seen
as the newly appointed “13th big team”.
An ambitious club from Curitiba, they
are well coached by the promising Thiago
Nunes but might just be stretched to
combine league commitments with a
The other teams from the southern
region are likely to spend the next few
months looking anxiously over their
1 Athletico Paranaense (Curitiba)
2 Atletico Mineiro (Belo Horizonte)
3 Avai (Florianopolis)
4 Bahia (Salvador)
5 Botafogo (Rio de Janeiro)
Vasco da Gama
6 Ceara (Fortaleza)
7 Chapecoense (Chapeco)
8 Corinthians (Sao Paulo)
9 CSA (Maceio)
10 Goias (Goiania)
11 Gremio (Porto Alegre)
Vagner Love of Corinthians
(left) of last year’s
cup winners Cruzeiro