April 17, 2014
A Lucas Powered Win

As expected, Santos progressed to the next round of the Copa do Brasil after seeing off Mixto by a 3x0 scoreline at the Vila Belmiro. It was far from straight forward, though. A goalless first half where the team was all brawn with brains brought up fears that a repeat of Sunday’s debacle would have been possible. However, with the entry of Lucas Lima in the second half, the much needed guile integrated itself into Santos’s play. First Arouca opened the scoring before Gabriel scored a brace to seal the win. Lucas was the axis on which it hinged.

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April 16, 2014
Penalty Heartbreak

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After 180 minutes of football, the final act of the 2014 Paulistão came down to the individual components of both teams. The collective was reduced to a group of isolated of points, each being a man bearing the weight of the contest between him and the goalkeeper from 12 yards. Santos jumped out into an early lead, but Rildo’s effort off the upright pushed the conclusion into sudden death. There, sadly, it was Santos who blinked first. Neto’s poor penalty was easily smothered by Vagner, and Ituano became the new reigning champions of the Campeonato Paulista.

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April 10, 2014
On The Back Foot

The last time a team from São Paulo’s big four failed to win the Campeonato Paulista was in 2004 when São Caetano beat Paulista to claim the prize. Ten years later, Ituano are close to breaking the hegemony again at Santos’ expense. The 1x0 win for Doriva’s men in the first leg of the final was no product of a series of lucky breaks that football throws up occasionally. No, the team from the interior fully deserved their victory through their stout defending, and controlled play in possession. In short, they were everything Santos were not. Gabriel and company put in one of their all too frequent cold displays this year. Cicero’s field goal style penalty summed up the evening succinctly. Now the favorites are in the back seat going into the second leg. The ultimate outcome is balanced on a knife’s edge. 

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April 4, 2014
The Compressed Law of Truly Large Numbers

In Mathematics, the law of truly large numbers says that all things are possible given a large enough sample size. In what I call the compressed version of this theorem, the sample size condition is optional. This alteration came to the fore in Santos’ Copa do Brasil game against Mixto in Cuiba. In front of a 20,000 strong crowd at the Arena Pantanal’s inaugural game, Santos’ second string side  - populated mostly by youngsters - completely dominated the game without playing well. However, the ball seemed determined not to go in, a goal that it achieved with the help of Mixto’s goalkeeper, the woodwork, and some dreadful finishing. Since Mixto decided to give Aranha the night off to compose the draft of his memoirs, the game finished goalless.

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April 2, 2014
Dramatic Progression

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It was a tight game. Penapolense showed that their 4x1 win earlier in the year was no fluke. They came to the Vila Belmiro looking to match Santos step for step. The momentum swung multiple times in an encounter of clear chances for both sides. Santos drew first blood, but two David Braz defensive blunders allowed the away side to surge into the lead. After that point the game was defined by two substitutions by Oswaldo de Oliveira. The first saw Rildo come up to provide an assist for the equalizer within a minute of his introduction. The second came late into the game with penalties looming. Leandro Damião’s number finally came up after he wasted chance after chance. On came Stéfano Yuri with Santos desperately pressing for a winner with three minutes left on the clock. The youngster’s first touch only seconds after his introduction was to control a delightful pass from Thiago Ribeiro. His second hammered the ball into the back of the net to send Santos into the final.

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