Santos FC Musings
Atletico-PR went into the thirty-seventh round of the Campeonato Brasileiro on a low note having lost the Copa do Brasil final to Flamengo. The loss almost meant that any hope of qualifying for the Copa Libertadores had to come through the league route. Santos on the hand had nothing concrete to play for going into the clash in Rio Preta. Only pride was on the line. Surprisingly it was this intangible driving force that prevailed. In an encounter that did little to quicken the pulse, Santos came from behind for the first time this season to beat the visitors 2x1, putting another hole into their hopes of Libertadores qualification.
Minimal Victory From Maximal Effort
It takes a poor team to make Santos look good nowadays, and that is what relegation-threatened Fluminese is. The Cariocas hardly put up a fight on Sunday evening as Santos walked away as comfortable 1x0 winners, despite not really having anything to play for. In fact, if not for Diego Cavalieri and Santos’s profligacy in front of goal, the scoreline would have been much more lopsided.
The youngsters have done it again. At the start of the year the U20’s conquered the Holy Grail of Brazilian youth football when they won the Copa São Paulo. Now, ten months later, nine of the the players who took the field in that final played in the second leg of the U20 Copa do Brasil’s final tie. Santos lost the game 3x1 to Criciuma, but won the trophy on away goals because of the 2x0 first leg result. In the absence of the tournament’s top scorer, Diego Cardoso, it was left to defensive midfielder Misael to produce the goal that won the title from a sumptuous free-kick.
Here are the back stage highlights of the victory. Congratulations to Pepinho Macia’s men!
This most recent success is yet another feather in the cap of these group of players. Most of them came up together in the ranks, winning the U15 and U17 Campeonato Paulista before adding the U20 version to the cabinet last year. Now with the Copa São Paulo and Copa do Brasil in there as well, the collection is pretty much complete. Winning the Copa do Brasil earns a spot in the U20 Copa Libertadores, so that is something for the guys to look forward to next year. Before then, they have to try to defend the Copinha title, the preparation for which starts after a meager ten day vacation.
Of course, this title is just a sweetener. The main purpose of youth football is to produce players for the first team. Quite a few of these players already have experience in the first team in the form of Leandrinho, Pedro Castro, Léo Cittadini, and Neílton. Perhaps the only new faces in the professional squad next year will be Lucas Otávio, Gabriel Gasparotto, and Diego Cardoso. The emergence of the last name was a huge surprise to me. When I saw Diego play at the start of the year he looked like nothing special, but he seems to have improved a lot since then.
Kudos again to Diego and co. on a job well done. Onward to defend the Copa São Paulo title!
Crawling To The Finish Line
Santos kept up their woeful away form on the weekend to record a tenth loss of the season. Claudinei Oliveira’s men did little to trouble Vitoria as Ney Franco’s men ran out 2x0 winners.
Back To Winning Ways
After three games without victory, Santos finally augmented the wins column once again by beating Bahia 3x0 at the Vila Belmiro. By all accounts it was a comfortable encounter against a team that had not won in seven games.