When you think of the best domestic leagues in world football, straight away most people will coin La Liga or the English Premier League as the pinnacle. Traditionally the Italian Serie A has been one of the frontrunners, while the German Bundesliga is stating a claim at the moment, with four teams from the nation making it through to the Champions League knockout rounds this season for the first time.
However, for sheer excitement and unadulterated unpredictability, Brazil’s Campeonato Brasileiro Série A must be seriously considered.
The Brasileiro may not be as glamorous as its European equivalents and it is fair to suggest that the top players in the South American country will continue to follow the trend and head over to Spain, Italy or England for years to come.
However, Brazil’s top flight at the moment has an enviable blend of rising stars, players returning from stints in Europe and veterans still with a substantial level of ability.
The likes of Ronaldinho, Clarence Seedorf, Alexandre Pato, Leandro Damião, Fred and Everton Ribeiro are just some of a host of stars that grace the Brasileiro on a weekly basis, with countless others dazzling spectators.
However, an added element makes the Brasileiro captivating viewing – anyone can beat anyone at any given time, and even the big clubs are not safe from relegation.
However, the other end of the table makes scintillating viewing also, with some of the most successful and historic clubs falling victim to relegation.
This recent trend was highlighted by one of Brazil’s biggest and most-supported clubs, Palmeiras, being demoted to Série B last year. The Alviverde are joined with Santos as the most successful club in the nation’s history, being crowned as champions eight times.
With 2002 World Cup winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari at the helm, Palmeiras suffered a terrible season, finishing 19th and being relegated. Scolari’s reward for this underwhelming achievement shows the unpredictability of Brazilian football, as the ex-Chelsea boss was brought back as the national team’s head coach after his side were relagated.
The 2013 campaign has seen not one, but two top sides drop to Série B. Fluminense were defending their title after being crowned as champions in 2012, but slipped into an unexpected relegation battle. Despite winning on the last day of the campaign at Bahia, the Estádio do Maracanã outfit finished in 17th and were relegated.
Violent scenes broke out on the same day as angry Vasco da Gama fans ran riot, with their team slumping to a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of Atlético Paranaense, sealing their fate. An 18th place finish confirmed the Rio de Janeiro side’s second demotion to Série B in the space of six years for the four-time Brazilian champions.
Both Fluminense and Vasco will look to follow Palmeiras’ lead, as the Allianz Parque outfit topped the second tier to bounce back to the Brasileiro at the first time of asking in 2013.
One thing is guaranteed for the 2014 campaign; it won’t be boring.