Seven of the eleven rounds of the Guanabara Cup, the decisive point-scoring phase of the Rio de Janeiro State Championship, 63.6% of the total, were played until Sunday morning (4). If the stage ended at this point, the competition would have a surprising outcome. Of the four big clubs in the state – Flamengo, Fluminense, Botafogo and Vasco -, only the red-black would be among those classified for the general finals. The other three would be Volta Redonda, Portuguesa and Madureira, in that order. Fla and Madura would face each other in a semifinal; Voltaço and Lusa carioca, in the other. Most charming state in the country, the Cariocão is broadcast exclusively on Record TV to open TV.
The performance of these three teams with less investment has generated euphoria between their fans and nostalgic football lovers. In Volta Redonda, in the southern region of Rio de Janeiro, the excitement with the vice-leadership of the city team is total. O Back reached the seventh round with the same 16 points, five victories, a draw, a defeat and 76.2% of the leader Flamengo’s performance. He brushed the edge of the dispute with his fingernails, but it is only there now because of the goal difference: he has five, against ten of the opponent. The campaign of the team from the interior of the state includes victories over Vasco (1 to 0) and Fluminense (3 to 2).
The Volta Redonda Futebol Clube (VRFC) is housed in an organized club. Send your games in the good Municipal Stadium of Citizenship Raulino de Oliveira, with a capacity for 20,255 spectators. Built in the late 1940s, it was reopened in 2004 after extensive renovation works on the lawn, changing rooms, bleachers and press facilities. With the increase in restrictions due to the pandemic, in recent days, it has also hosted games for teams from São Paulo.
The 2021 budget approved by the Back provides for an expense of R $ 180 thousand per month with the payroll of the entire football department. This will result in an annual disbursement of R $ 2.16 million – something similar to Gabigol’s two monthly salaries in Flamengo, just to show one of the factors to open up the disparity between the two clubs. The team’s main sponsor is the University of Vassouras, a neighboring historic city that houses one of the branches of the Brazilian imperial family.
O Back he plays in a 4-4-2 with two defensive midfielders and a pair of offensive midfielders also paying attention to the mark. The highlights of the squad are strikers Alef Manga, top scorer in the league with five goals, alongside red-black Rodrigo Muniz, and João Carlos, second in the list, with four balls in the net. And also the midfielder Bruno Barra, firm but loyal in the marking, owner of a good pass and resources to get to the attack. Barra is in the selection of the seventh round of the competition, chosen by Internet users on social networks.
In third place, with 13 points, is the Portuguese Athletic Association (AAP), founded in 1924 on Ilha do Governador, one of the islands of Guanabara Bay and also one of the most traditional neighborhoods in Rio. The start of Portuguesa da Ilha in the Guanabara Cup was overwhelming: a victory over Vasco by 1-0 in the debut and a 3-0 chocolate in Fluminense in the second round.
If he defeats Botafogo for the eighth round, at 5 pm this Sunday (4), at the Estádio Giulite Coutinho, Lusa carioca will break a 55-year-old taboo, as he has not beaten the blacksmith since 1966. In the team’s 4-3-3, the defender Diego Guerra and the fast Cafu, striker on the left who has been playing as a midfielder, had good days. The cheerful and marrentas goal celebrations by team players are also noteworthy.
Closing the G4, with 11 points, comes the centenary Madureira Esporte Clube (MEC), the Tricolor Suburban. Of the three teams, it is the most used to bother the big cariocas in the state. Founded in 1914 in the historic neighborhood on the north side of the Marvelous City, the birthplace of the samba schools Portela and Império Serrano, it reached the runner-up in 1936 and 2006. It is in the eighth position among the clubs with the most points in the history of the competition. Evaristo de Macedo and Marcelinho Carioca are among the stars who wore the eye-catching yellow, red and blue shirt of the Madura.
Striker Luiz Paulo is the highlight of the team. The only undefeated player in the dispute, Madureira will complete eight matches without losing in the competition if he is not defeated by Flamengo on Monday night (5). Something that hasn’t happened to the club since 1936.
About G4 to Cariocão will continue exactly the way it is at least until the beginning of Sunday night (4), when the game between Botafogo and Portuguesa will end for the eighth round. If the alvinegro does not win, the ranking order will survive for a while longer.
The history of football in the city of Rio de Janeiro is marked, like no other in the country, by the tradition of the so-called neighborhood or suburban clubs. Madureira, São Cristóvão, Bangu, Olaria and Portuguesa, among others who stayed by the curves of history, launched stars who later shone for giants in the state, in other parts of the country and even abroad.
Some argue that some of these clubs achieve periods of brilliance nowadays much more because of the technical deficiency of the big ones than by their merits. It might be. But, in addition to the reasons, there is an undeniable burden of nostalgia and beauty in the fact that representatives of these teams occupy the top of the table in a competition as charming as the State of Rio.
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