Monday, January 25, 2016

Uruguay Second Division:

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Argentina. Metropolitano:

Monday, January 18, 2016

Argentina. Second Division:

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The 1980 championship of Brazil was still the biggest mess in the world, although there was an effort to put some order in it. It was still named Copa Brasil, the 6th issue of the tournament – this was the top level, Level 1. Level 2 was named Taca de Prata, and Level 3 – Taca de Bronze. The three levels theoretically corresponded to three normal divisions in other countries. In reality it was the usual gigantic meandering Brazilian championship, slowly going from one stage to another, somewhat making it sure that no big club will be eliminated early, let alone going down to lower level. 44 clubs participated in Copa Brasil, 64 in Taca de Prata,and 24 in Taca de Bronze. It was not very clear what role the third level played in the general scheme and why the participants were much fewer than in the higher levels – normal logic told the opposite, but in Brazil everything was different. The role of the second level was more understandable – the 2 finalists of the championship were promoted to Level 1. As for Level 1, the numbers were reduced for the first time and, on a glance, drastically: 94 teams played in the V Copa Brasil – only 44 in VI Copa Brasil. 50% less – in another country is should have been a huge news. In Brazil, it was the usual back-room compromise between the clout big clubs had, the interests of sober members in the Federation, and the push of  all members of the states making Brazil. So the names of the teams were still curious – some fairly known clubs were now in Level 2, but many little known clubs in Level 1. Perhaps no fairly known club was left outside the three top levels, but how exactly the lower two levels were made is a mystery. The top level was clear: teams were selected based on previous state championship, but depending on the lots every individual state was given. Sao Paulo had 7 berths, Rio de Janeiro – 5, Rio Grande do Sol – 3, Bahia, Ceara, Goias, Minas Gerais, Parana, and Pernambuco -2, and the rest – 1. Sounds simple, but it was not really – Brazil produced a general final table of the top level, but it was also arbitrary, for the lowest clubs played much fewer matches than those above. If all states had to be represented, relegation was a puzzle – the so-called final table would not do. And if not, what could be the criteria then? At the end, it was not even important for every year the format was different. Of course, the individual state championships remained with their better organized leagues and the competition between local championships and the national one remained as well. Financially, the clubs were chronically in a bad shape, which also increased tensions: on one hand, the clubs needed more games to get money. On the other, playing around the vast country meant losing money. The big clubs still preferred to play between themselves and in the local state league. The smaller states and their clubs argued that the national championship was the most important, partly in the hope that visiting big name would attract interest of paying public.  Between the rock and the hard place  the championship started and eventually finished. Level 3 was apparently of no interest. The clubs were never heard of outside Brazil – may be some of them were unheard of in Brazil too. The best known names were second raters from Rio de Janeiro – Madureira and Olaria. Those, who followed closely Brazilian football found Dom Bosco, which had great run a few years back in the top level, in Level 3. Sao Paulo had no representative. 
 Level 2 had some better known clubs playing in it – those, who for one or another reason were unable to make the quota of their states for Level 1. Vitoria (Vitoria), Sport (Recife), Paysandu (Belem), Goias (Goiania), Fortaleza (Fortaleza), Juventude (Caxias), Criciuma (Criciuma), Atletico Paranaense (Curitiba), Bonsucesso (Rio de Janiero), Bangu (Rio de Janeiro), Americano (Campos), America (Belo Horizonte), ABC (Natal) – in another country this group would be sufficient for a thorough second division, but in Brazil this group was just a small part of the huge Level 2 and hardly favourites. 
Sport (Recife) – if they were not from the state of Pernambuco, they would have been in Level 1. 
Campinense – champions of Paraiba two years in a row, but playing in Level 2 nationally.
Of coure, not all states were equal in terms of football – River were champions of Piaui, but the state was nothing in football terms and the champions were only Level 2 nationally.
Stage by stage, the tournament distilled 4 teams reaching the semi-finals: Botafogo (Ribeirao Preto), CSA (Maceio), Londrina (Londrina), and Ferroviaria (Araraquara).  Londrina eliminated Botafogo after winning both legs – 2-1 and 1-0, and CSA was the other finalist, also beating Ferroviaria twice – 1-0 both legs. The winners were promoted to Level 1 and had to play only for the Level 2 title – the final was also two legged, matches played in May. Londrina kept CSA at 1-1 tie in Maceio and then destroyed them at home 4-0. Londrina Esporte Clube were the 1980 champions of Taca de Prata. 
CSA – Centro Sportivo Alagoano – were traditionally one the strongest clubs in the state of Alagoa. Nationally, they never ranked very high, but the boys from Maceio were still better then most and won promotion to Level 1. They were unable to win Taca do Prata, though, and had to be satisfied only with winning their state championship one more time. Yet, CSA was perhaps one of the closest approximation of  what in most countries is a typical second division club – good enough to reach promotion now and then, unable to stay for long among the best, but sturdy enough not to sink bellow second level.  
Londrina Esporte Clube – champions of Level 2 and promoted to Level 1. Great season overall and arguably one of the best in the club's history. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Monday, January 4, 2016

European Champions Cup:

Saturday, January 2, 2016