So, with just two weeks remaining the impetus rests firmly with Corinthians, having nicked a two point lead over nearest challengers Vasco.
Even at such a crucial juncture of the season, the pace remains relentless with two rounds played out over the past week. A week during which this humble reporter took a well earned vacation.
Over the previous midweek, a series of close games in Round 35 was only broken by a barnstorming classic between Fluminense and Gremio. The former won 5-4 at home on Wednesday to keep alive their slim hopes for the title. The usual suspects were at it again, with Fred scoring four goals, neatly encapsulating a strike from Rafael Sobis, while Rafael Marques, Marquinhos, Brandao and Adilson replied for the visitors. Fluminense storm into the top three and sit three points behind Vasco but five behind leaders Corinthians. Slim chances remain for the champions to defend their title as both points and goal difference are in the favour of the leading pair.
Elsewhere Inter, At Para, America, Atletico Mineiro and Corinthians all picked up narrow one goal wins with the latter's away triumph at Ceara, all the way in the North, significant. Vasco, till then tied with them on points and goal difference could only manage a 1-1 draw at suddenly resurgent Palmeiras to drop a couple of points behind. Elsewhere Avai and Cruzeiro played out a goalless draw, as Figueirense at Flamengo. The last result extinguishing the chances of Ronaldinho's popular side. Santos and At Go drew 1-1 in a result that keeps both in midtable. With their losses both Botafogo and Sao Paulo were eliminated from the title race.
Round 36 kicked off on the weekend with three games on Saturday and seven more on Sunday. While Sao Paulo and Ceara ground out impressive but academic 3-1 wins, Vasco returned to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Avai to put the pressure back on Corinthians. The latter played on Sunday and needing a win to take back the outright lead, did just that seeing off Atletico Mineiro 2-1 at home. Two point lead intact. Both Vasco and Corinthians have a difference of +16. Fluminense remained in the hunt, just about with another crushing win, hammering Figueirense 4-0 in Florianopolis, and eliminating their hosts in the process. Fred was at large again, scoring a hat-trick and taking his tally in consecutive games to seven goals.
Palmeiras, Inter and Coritiba also won, but Inter aside, remain mired in midtable, among the Sudamericana spots. Inter have now risen to fourth and are in the hunt for a Libertadores berth in 2012. Flamengo drew goalless at At Go as their campaign, once so exciting and promising has ground to an underwhelming halt. They drop to sixth between Figueirense and Sao Paulo.
After Round 36 all but Fluminense, and the leading duo have been eliminated from title contention. With a pair of games remaining Corinthians are in the driving seat. Tellingly, the next round of games sees Vasco travel to red hot Fluminense on Sunday. The money is on the Rio Derby to produce a home win for the defending Champions as they surge to second.
What once seemed in the bag for leading scorer Borges now seems a lot closer. Although the Santos striker still sits in front with 23 goals, Fred now has 20 to his name in second place and is blazing a trail of destruction.
Full League Details Here.
Full League Details Here.