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Corinthians Way Out Ahead

Saturday 26th August 2017
Down in São Paulo, a football club is leaving its opposition in the dust. Who are Corinthians? How do they dominate? Can anyone catch them?

Sport Club Corinthians Paulista are half the two-headed giant in São Paulo football, the other being the eponymous club, that perennially represent the sprawling city (12 million people, 21 in the metropolitan area) in Brazil's top flight, the Campeonato Serie A. They've already won the 2017 Campeonato Paulista, the state tournament that precedes the national campaign. Properly warmed up, the Timao have been easily the best team in the national championship.

Corinthians are one of the bigger clubs in Brazil. Timao, in fact, translates to big team. It is likely the best known Brazilian team internationally. Founded in 1910 by locomotive workers inspired by the singular London club that dissolved in 1939, the Brazilian version's 106-year history has witnessed a glut of trophies and even more numerous cups. It has flown the standard for Brazilian football in the FIFA Club World Cup, winning the inaugural event in 2000, then defeating Chelsea for a second in 2012.
This season, the club has amassed a 10-point difference between itself and Grêmio, its nearest competitor. Halfway through the campaign, the title appears decided. An amazing 19-match unbeaten streak, with only draws accounts for the club's entire points total

Jo's resurgence is a major reason for the club's success. The former Manchester City and Everton striker has really taken to life back at Corinthians. He has run rampant since re-joining the club at which his career began 14 years ago. A dozen goals in the current competition make him the league's top scorer. His attitude and determination are unquestionable. Despite being 30, he gives his all to the final whistle. In Corinthian's most recent win, he provided a 90th minute winner.
Young midfielder Clayson is having a great debut season at the club, proving fruitful from the bench or on a rotational basis. He's already chipped in two goals and three assists. Impressive for a 22-year-old.

Attack is easy to pinpoint as Corinthians' strength. Yet, its defense is even more imposing. The Timao have permitted just ten goals in 21 contests. Right back Fagner has grown into his role, providing an outlet in transition. He's joined by two very good centre-backs, Pablo and the Paraguayan, Fabián Balbuena. The duo is traditionally Brazilian in their zealous efforts not to concede. Pablo lives to block shots while Balbuena is on a permanent mission to clear loose balls.

At 43, Fábio Carille is relatively young for a manager. A São Paulo native, he is enjoying life as Corinthians' head honcho. Before his appointment, he was around the club as assistant and two-time interim manager. Results coupled with his likable persona secured the permanent job. No one can say he isn't rewarding the club's trust with his exciting brand of football.
His preferred 4-2-3-1 makes is anchored by a bulky, well-supported back line and balanced with sufficient creativity to feed Jô at the other end. Should Carille's managerial prowess continue, interest from UEFA clubs could make him the first Brazilian boss to impact Europe since Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Can anyone hold a candle to Carille and Corinthians? Probably not. Grêmio has played well to be in second place but run far too hot and cold to mount a consistent challenge. A three-game losing streak in the early "winter"--June and July to those in the Northern Hemisphere--allowed Corinthians to establish its big lead. The Coringao don't look like returning the favour.

Santos is some 13 points off Corinthians' pace. and whilst third in the league, realistically aren't going to trouble the champions elect. Despite excellent early-season form, drawing four from its last five leaves them only a thorn in Gremio's side.

Altogether, this domestic Brazilian season belongs to the Sao Paolo giants. It would take an epic meltdown for other teams to come into the picture. Corinthians are simply way out ahead.
Warren Smith

A British and J.League soccer enthusiast, now local to Yokohama, Japan. A keen Arsenal supporter. Has been known to play the game every once in awhile, once likened to Xherdan Shaqiri. 

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