In this text I move away from the main focus of the blog, which is international football, to write about the decision of the Copa do Brasil, a tournament that counts for a place in the Libertadores.
More specifically, about the best chance that São Paulo has of winning a relevant title that it does not yet have on its resume.
With the victory over Flamengo (1-0) in the first leg, at Maracanã, the tricolor team will play at Morumbi, this Sunday (24), for two results to lift the cup: victory or draw. Defeat by a goal difference can still be useful, as it takes the decision to penalties.
It is a considerable advantage, which is magnified by the turbulent phase experienced by the red-and-black opponent, involved in internal and relationship problems – it is clear that Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli is disliked by the squad.
Founded in 1930, São Paulo participated, according to information on its official website, in 55 finals (the first in 1953), whether in a single game or not. Of these, he won 28 and lost 27.
In the 27 times it entered the field and succumbed, finishing runner-up, the team never found itself in such a favorable situation as it is now.
The team now led by Dorival Júnior, on previous occasions which ended in runner-up, never had the opportunity, in the last game, to play in their stadium, Morumbi (which is expected to receive close to 60 thousand fans, the vast majority of tricolors), having won the first leg as a visitor.
In this panorama, it is perfectly possible to decree that, if São Paulo does not become champion, it will be the club’s worst defeat in its almost century-old history.
The decision that comes closest to the advantageous situation in São Paulo took place in 1995, at the Copa de Ouro, a traditional tournament organized by Conmebol (South American confederation) that had only three editions – the Copa do Brasil is in its 35th.
In the first match, in Belo Horizonte, São Paulo de Telê Santana beat Cruzeiro 1-0 in a game that was marked by the expulsion of four Cruzeiro fans at the end of the first half, due to strong arguments, in sequence, with referee Wilson by Souza Mendonça.
At the beginning of the second half, a Raposa player claimed an injury and, as all substitutions had already been made (at halftime), Mendonça ended the duel, as a team must have at least seven players on the field.
It was suspected that Cruzeiro acted purposefully, in order to avoid a rout. There was no proof, but the team kept the dispute open and in the second match, at Pacaembu (Morumbi was undergoing renovation), they returned 1-0, later winning on penalties.
Also against Cruzeiro, in a notable setback, São Paulo, coached by Levir Culpi, came very close to winning the Copa do Brasil, in 2000, the only time they reached the final.
In the first game, at Morumbi, 0-0. In the return game, at Mineirão, the São Paulo team scored, with Marcelinho Paraíba, 1-0 after 20 minutes of the second half. At the time, an away goal was used as a tiebreaker, so in order not to be champions, São Paulo would need to win the victory.
And, incredibly, he won, with goals from Fábio Júnior, in the 35th minute, and Geovanni, in the 45th minute.
Recently, last year, São Paulo, led by the idol Rogério Ceni, managed to lose the Campeonato Paulista even after beating Palmeiras 3-1 at Morumbi, in the first leg of the final.
On the way back, in a most disappointing performance, with terrible football, they were beaten 4-0 at Allianz Park.
These are painful defeats for the club and its fans, but none will be equivalent, due to the circumstances so favorable to São Paulo, to a disappointment now against Flamengo.
In time: São Paulo and Flamengo met three times in competition decisions. The team from São Paulo won one, the 1993 Supercopa da Libertadores (2-2 at Maracanã, 2-2 at Morumbi and triumph on penalties), and the team from Rio won two, the 1996 Gold Cup (3-1, at Vivaldão, in Manaus) and the 2001 Champions Cup (5-3 at Almeidão, in João Pessoa, and 2-3 at Rei Pelé, in Maceió).