- Copa do Brasil
Copa do Brasil Founded 1989 Region Brazil Number of teams 64 Current champions Vasco da Gama (2011, 1st title) Most successful club Grêmio
(4 titles each)
Television broadcasters Rede Globo
Website www.copakiadobrasil.com.br 2011 season
The Copa Kia do Brasil, commonly known as Copa do Brasil (or Brazil Cup), is a knockout competition played by 64 association football teams, representing all 26 Brazilian states plus the Federal District. From 2001 onwards, due to the busy schedule in the first semester in Brazil, teams playing in the Copa Libertadores have not been allowed to participate in the Copa do Brasil in the same year. This has allowed lesser teams to have a shot at the title, since the best clubs are usually playing the continental competition.
The tournament is played in two-legged knockout stages. In the first two rounds the away team automatically goes through to the next round if they beat the home team by a 2-goal difference or more in the first leg.
The away goals rule is used in the Copa do Brasil, which is an unusual feature when compared to other South American competitions. For example, the Copa Libertadores did not adopt this rule until 2005.
Copa do Brasil is an opportunity for teams from smaller states to play against the big teams and episodes of giant-killing have happened at a regular rate throughout the competition history.
The winner automatically qualifies for the next year's Copa Libertadores, which prevents a team from winning the Copa do Brasil twice in a row.
An unusual fact about the cup is that it is impossible for a team to win it two times in a row, as the defending champions play in the next year's Copa Libertadores, making impossible for teams to play Copa Libertadores and Copa do Brasil in the same year due to lack of calendar.
The eligible teams to compete in the Copa do Brasil in 2009 are the ten clubs best-placed in CBF's ranking, and the 54 best-placed clubs in the state championships, in which the number of spots per state range from one to three clubs.
Because it is a knock-out competition, Copa do Brasil provides plenty of opportunities for dramatic matches to happen. But it must be noted that some of the giants of Brazilian football, like Botafogo, São Paulo and Atlético Mineiro have never won the Copa do Brasil.
The Copa do Brasil was created this year by CBF inspired by the former Taça Brasil as a way of integration of all clubs throughout Brazil. Smaller clubs had the chance to play against the most famous teams in Brazil, but the big ones did not care about it. Even the prize – a spot in Libertadores – did not attract their attention. Grêmio saw it as a shortcut to the continental competition and gave it all in this first edition. In the semifinals, Grêmio thrashed Flamengo 6-1 at home, still the worst defeat Flamengo had so far in the history of this tournament.
Criciúma EC (then an unknown team from Santa Catarina) had made its debut the previous year, reaching the semifinals, and coached by the yet unknown Luiz Felipe Scolari, but no one dared foresee that "David" could kill "Goliath" (personified in the mighty black-blue club from Porto Alegre). It is true that Grêmio did not have a brilliant squad back then – they had been relegated to Série B earlier that year – but it was a shock nevertheless.
Fluminense and Internacional reached the finals for the first time. In the first match, played in the tiny Laranjeiras Stadium, Fluminense won 2-1. Second leg was played in the wide Beira-Rio Stadium crowded with 60,000 people. Fluminense was able to hold Internacional until the 86th minute, when the referee said penalty-kick on a foul regarded by many as non-existent. Inter's defender Célio Silva powerful shot gave the hosts their first national championship since 1979.
Grêmio had reached the finals for the 3rd time in only 5 editions of the cup and this time they met also giant Cruzeiro. First leg in Porto Alegre was played under heavy rain and the teams were unable to score. In Belo Horizonte, Cruzeiro took an early lead but soon Grêmio managed to equalize. Everything was going fine for the visitors until their goalkeeper Eduardo let a ball shot by Cleison go between his legs. Cruzeiro held the lead and won the Copa do Brasil for the first time.
Ceará is one of the Brazilian states that never had a national champion (or any team close to being champion). But in 1994 its namesake club nearly made it, winning twice, but failing at the third time of asking, against the "big ones". In the first round Ceará SC sent back the star-filled Palmeiras from São Paulo State, 1993 and 1994 Série A winners. They then proceeded to beat Internacional from Porto Alegre. The semi-final was thought to be easier, against the also-unknown Linhares, from Espírito Santo State. Unfortunately for Ceará, however, Grêmio had learned the lesson of 1991 and gave them no chance.
Grêmio had reached the finals for an impressive 5th time, setting themselves as the team to be defeated in this competition.However, Corinthians defeated them 1-0 in Olímpico Stadium with a goal scored for Marcelinho Carioca, becoming the first team from the state of São Paulo to win the Copa do Brasil. Corinthians achieved this honour undefeated.
In 1996, the first match between Cruzeiro and Palmeiras in Belo Horizonte finished 1-1. Palmeiras were considered to be the best team in Brazil at the time, with players such as Cafu, Cléber, Júnior, Djalminha, Luizão and Rivaldo, all managed by Vanderlei Luxemburgo. A simple home victory would have been enough to give the title to the Palmeiras. The palmeirense victory was practically certain. After only 5 minutes, following a beautiful piece of play by Djalminha, Luizão opened the score. The fans were already commemorating the victory. Still in the first half, in a thundering imperfection of Amaral, Roberto Gaucho stole the ball and tied the game. Palmeiras pressured in search of a second goal, but Cruzeiro had goalkeeper Dida, who, with miraculous saves, did not let the ball into the net. In the 83rd minute, after a cross by Palhinha, goalkeeper Velloso left the ball at the feet of Marcelo Ramos who pushed it towards the net. Cruzeiro won 2-1 and took their second Copa do Brazil title. Arriving in Belo Horizonte, the champions paraded in a firetruck, and were received by around 100,000 fans.
Grêmio and Flamengo met again, this time deciding the championship. In the first match, Flamengo played away against a 10-men side, due to Dinho's sent off after a hard tackle against Sávio, but could not manage to score. Two days after, in a crowded Maracanã, Flamengo had the lead and the fans were already celebrating when a late goal by Grêmio's midfielder Carlos Miguel gave the visitors the win in away goals after a 2-2 draw, silencing nearly 100,000 people inside the stadium.
As of 1996, the competition final opposed both Palestras. But this time Palmeiras, commanded by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari lifted the trophy for the first time with a 2-0 victory over Cruzeiro in the second leg of the final, held at the Morumbi stadium. Romário, of Flamengo, with seven goals, was the competition's topscorer.
Botafogo, one of the four Rio giants, had been enjoying a good time since 1994 and had one of its best squads since the departure of Garrincha but they were no match for the still unknown Juventude, a club that rocketed from obscurity to nationwide fame thanks to millions pumped in by sponsors (mostly Parmalat) and cleverly used by its managers. The first match, contested in Caxias do Sul, ended with a tough score of 2-1 to Juventude, which gave the advantage to a simple 1-0 victory for Botafogo in its home in order to conquer the cup. In the final match, however, the Maracanã Stadium once again showed its creepiness: more than 100,000 Botafogo fans wept in despair after the 0-0 draw that robbed the "Lone Star" club its so desired title. The result was so surprising that the TV channels did not have full-sized reproductions of Juventude's badge to show onscreen (as they traditionally do when a team wins a competition) nor did they have the recording of Juventude's anthem (also traditionally played on air to honour the champion). Juventude's celebration was accompanied by only the footsteps of thousands of fans leaving the stadium, the cries of the players and a handful of fireworks brought by some few Juventude fans.
The final of 2000 was played between Cruzeiro and São Paulo. At the end of the first match of the two-leg-final, São Paulo held an advantage over their opponents by one goal. In the second game, which took place in a crowded Mineirão, it was São Paulo who, even playing as an away team, scored first; but Cruzeiro managed to draw in the 80th minute of regular time thanks to a goal by Fábio Júnior. Then in the last minutes, deep into additional time, Geovanni scored. Cruzeiro became the second team to win three Copa do Brasil's after only Grêmio.
History loves to repeat itself and in the 2001 Copa do Brasil it was no different. Just like 1994 and 1997, after Cruzeiro EC's titles, Grêmio answered, bringing the trophy back home. However, they did not have an easy run. On their way to the title, the black and blue squad faced Santa Cruz, the most popular team of Pernambuco State, Fluminense, the club with the most carioca league titles in history, and São Paulo, two-times world champions at that time. The final was against 1995 Copa do Brasil, 1998 and 1999 Brazilian League champions Corinthians Paulista. The first game was held in Porto Alegre and Grêmio overcame a 2-0 deficit to finish with a 2-2 tie. The second league was held in the gigantic stadium of Morumbi in São Paulo and Corinthians Paulista needed just a 0-0 draw to retain the trophy. In the end, Grêmio showed why they seem to be born to play home-and-away tournaments, and won the match, 3-1.
The Alligator is the mascot for Brasiliense, a young team from Brasilia which had not a shadow of a reputation when it repeated Ceara's deeds seven years before and defeated two giants (Fluminense and Atlético Mineiro) on its way to the final, only to be beaten by Corinthians, the would-be champions that year.
In 2003, the team that would later come to conquer the Triple Crown, were champions of the Copa do Brazil in unbeatable form. Managed by Vanderlei Luxemburgo, Cruzeiro tied the first match of the final versus Flamengo 1-1, in a game where the craque (ace) Alex scored a fantastic goal, de letra. In the second match, in Belo Horizonte, after 30 minutes Cruzeiro were already leading 3-0, with three goals from the heads of Deivid, Aristizábal and Luisão. The game finished 3-1 and Cruzeiro gained its fourth title of the Copa do Brasil.
2004 will never be forgotten by Flamengo fans, but not for winning: that year a Série B team from São Paulo beat the Rio de Janeiro giants. Besides defeating Flamengo in the final, EC Santo André had previously sent home Palmeiras too.
For the second time an obscure team from São Paulo (this time Paulista) defeated a big one from Rio (this time Fluminense). Unlike Santo André, however, Paulista had a hard time all the way: to reach the final it had to beat Botafogo-Rio de Janeiro, Juventude-Rio Grande do Sul, Cruzeiro-Minas Gerais, Figueirense-Santa Catarina and Internacional-Rio Grande do Sul (Champion of FIFA World Club Cup 2006) – all of them first division teams.
For the first time the competition's finals were held between two clubs of the same state. Flamengo beat its greatest rivals Vasco da Gama to win a second Copa do Brasil title. Flamengo was granted the right to play in the Copa Libertadores for the first time since 2002.
After reaching the finals for the third time, Fluminense won the 2007 edition of the Copa do Brasil. So, Figueirense, the runners-up, did not achieve the same feat of its rival Criciúma, champions in 1991. Fluminense was granted the right to play in the Copa Libertadores 23 years after its last participation in 1985.
After beating Brazilian football giants Vasco, Palmeiras, and Internacional, Sport Recife beats Corinthians (June 11, 2008), 2-0 in the second leg of the finals at Ilha do Retiro and wins the tournament on away goals (aggregate score: 3-3). This was the first time a team from the Brazilian Northeast wins the Copa do Brasil, and the second time Sport qualified to play in Copa Libertadores.
With an aggregate score of 4-2, Corinthians triumphed over the now-centenary Internacional and conquered their third national cup title.
Santos won the 2010 edition of the Copa do Brasil. Santos beat Vitória, 2-0 in the Vila Belmiro and loss the last game, 2-1 to Vitória in the Barradão. It was the first time ever that the winners lost the second match. Neymar is the top goal scorer of the Copa do Brasil with 11 goals.
Vasco won the 2011 edition of the Copa do Brasil. Vasco beat Coritiba, 1-0 in the São Januário and then lost the second leg, 3-2 to Coritiba in the Estádio Couto Pereira. Vasco won the title on the away goals rule, after an epic battle in the Paraná capital. It was Vasco first Copa do Brasil title and also broke a 8 year drought by the Rio team, one of the most important and successful clubs in Brazil.
- ^ (Portuguese) "Copa do Brasil de 2009 – REC – Regulamento Específico da Competição" (in Portuguese) (PDF). Brazilian Football Confederation. http://www.cbf.com.br/regulamento/regulamento_cb2009.pdf. Retrieved June 8, 2009.
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