Vague, empty, and colorless — the final of the Brazil Cup was supposed to be a spectacle between two of the greatest teams in Brazilian football history, yet, what was portrayed was something unrecognizable for Brazilian football standards. And this is a competition whose sponsors are dropping a record amount of prize money not even the prestigious and mythical Copa Libertadores has ever seen.
On one side a Corinthians who somehow—and it is unfathomable to think—are still defenders of the Brazilian League title (winning 2017 in near-record fashion), and yet haven’t scored a goal in three matches, or this year’s personal drought that has lasted 270+ minutes. A team who’s steep financial troubles have forced them to cede their greatest assets from last season into the transfer market, resulting in a wildly inconsistent 11th place this season into the final stretch of the season.
A Cruzeiro who’s consistent, yet conservative superiority prevailed via being efficient in the one of the less than a handful of clear cut chances the match in a packed Mineirão (Belo Horizonte, the same stage Brazil lost 1-7 to Germany in the 2014 World Cup semifinal) brought us. It should also be noted they didn’t have their main creative brainpower, Giorgian De Arrascaeta, out with the Uruguayan national team for the FIFA date friendlies.
Being this football from the land of still (for now) the world’s only five-time world champions, pundits alike, fans, and the overall press are always hopeful the Brazilian football we’ve all grown acccustomed to will shine come the second leg of the 2018 Brazil Cup final in São Paulo’s Arena Corinthians.
For Corinthians, a team in their third coach this year, a victory by any one-goal difference (no away goals rule) will take the decision to the penalty spot. Former Corinthians coach, now at Cruzeiro, Mano Menezes, who birthed the style molded (and bettered by Brazilian national team manager Tite) will most definitely be calling forth an opponent to attack them, something the São Paulo giants have struggled to efficiently do this season, by deploying Mano’s most comfortable strategy—sealing the defense & countering.
What remains to be seen shall be interesting. It will definitely be a moment for new Corinthians coach Jair Ventura, the son of Jairzinho, 1970 Brazilian World Cup champion alongside Pelé, to prove himself after a flawed Santos stint by beating the odds and relying on the force of the Torcida Fiel (“Corinthians faithfuls”) to, at least, salvage the year for last year’s decadent champions and clinch a Copa Libertadores spot amongst South America’s elite clubs next season, everyone knows they surely need it.