Flamengo v Gremio; Internacional v Santo Andre; Botafogo v Palmeiras; Sao Paulo v Sport Recife; Campeonato Brasileiro, December 6, 2009
Following a fine season of Brazilian football, the football mad country will be holding its breath on Sunday as four teams go into the final match with the possibility of winning the title.
The team in pole position, with a two-point lead over their rivals, is Flamengo. A win at home to Gremio (2/9 to win), in front of an expected 90,000 in the Maracana means the Rio giants are hot favourites to win their first championship since 1992.
Flamengo have been the form team of the second half of the campaign and have surged into pole position while all their rivals have faltered in recent weeks. Since the start of October they have won eight out of eleven games and after their 2-0 win at Corinthians last week their fans have already begun celebrating.
Adriano has been a key factor in their surge to the top of the table and the burly striker is currently joint top goal scorer in the league alongside Diego Tardelli on 19. Veteran Dejan Petkovic has also been in fine form this season and 19-year-old defensive midfielder Airton looks to have played himself into a move to a big club in Europe after impressing.
Flamengoâ€™s chances of winning the match and taking the title look even more convincing when one factors in the fact that Gremio (10/1 to win) will probably not even be trying that hard. Their great rivals Internacional are most likely to win the league if Flamengo lose or draw, on account of number of wins which comes before goal difference when calculating league position and it seems likely that Gremio supporters will also be cheering on the home side.
Internacionalâ€™s task (2/5 to win) is made that little more complicated as their opponents, Santo Andre (13/2 to win), are still fighting relegation and are expected to fight tooth and nail for a result. Inter have been impressive this season and have a host of match winners that should see them record a victory on Sunday. Alecsandro has banged in the goals whilst Andres Dâ€™Alessandro has also had the type of season that could see him return to Europe.
The final two teams with a chance to win the title on the final day will be kicking themselves that they are even in this position. Palmeiras (2/1 to win) were long time league leaders but have fallen away in recent weeks after a run of just one win in their last five matches. They are also facing a tough trip to Rio where their opponents Botafogo (6/5 to win) will also be fighting relegation.
Sao Paulo (2/11 to win), who have won the league for three successive seasons, looked like they had copied their 2008 title with a late surge as Palmeiras slipped away. Defeats to Botafogo and Goias Goiana have left them relying on a hugely improbable set of results although they should definitely pick up three points against the bottom team in the league, Sport Recife (12/1 to win). The champions do though have to make sure they do win as Cruzeiro can mathematically beat them to a Copa Libertadores position.
With a huge amount of permutations at both ends of the table, it promises to be a topsy-turvy day. But, when looking at it realistically, Flamengo should easily secure victory against Gremio, the worst away side in the division, who are unlikely to even try very hard in case their great rivals Internacional walk away with the title.
101gg predicts: Flamengo 3 â€“ Gremio 0, to leave the other three matches irrelevant – Adriano to score.