Brazil’s Serie A set for kick-off with Flamengo and Palmeiras favourites for title

April 12 – On Saturday, the Brazilian Serie A kicks off with giants Flamengo and powerhouse Palmeiras favourites to claim the title. 

The Rio club has the best squad and the best manager in the country and backed up their title credentials with victory in the Rio state championship and a good start to their campaign in the Copa Libertadores.

Flamengo went undefeated to win the Carioca and Tite has combined his resources to find a good balance for the team. They will however have to manage expectations, an unforgiving calendar and the Copa America when the national team will select Flamengo players.

Nine rounds of matches will be played during the continental finals, hosted by the United States. It once again highlights how dysfunctional the Brazilian football calendar is. In 2025, Flamengo, Palmeiras and Fluminense will play in the Club World Cup and their participation will similarly affect the domestic league.

Tite has said that he will sit down with Flamengo’s board to discuss which competitions the club wants to prioritise, calling it ‘inhumane’ to compete on all fronts. On Sunday, Flamengo travel to Atletico Goianiense for their opening game.

In their fifth season under Portuguese manager Abel Ferreira, Palmeiras share the tag of favourites with Flamengo. The defending champions have maintained the core of their squad and will count on teenage sensation Endrick, before his departure to Real Madrid this summer, to kickstart the season.

The club won the Sao Paulo state championship and will kick off their Serie A campaign against Vitoria.

Atletico Mineiro are seen as outsiders to challenge both Flamengo and Palmeiras. The club from Belo Horizonte let veteran manager Luiz Felipe Scolari go and brought in Gabriel Milito of Argentina while sticking to last season’s squad. They won the Mineiro state championship against crosstown rivals Cruzeiro and have reinforced their midfield with Gustavo Scarpa.

On the back of an irregular start to the season with a semi-final elimination in the Rio state championship and lots of injuries, Copa Libertadores champions Fluminense will be rank outsiders for the title. The club from Laranjeiras won their maiden Libertadores last season but will need to find new momentum to start the new league season and address defensive woes.

At the foot of the table, there are a host of candidates for a return ticket to Serie B – Atletico Goianiense, Vitoria, Criciuma, Cuiaba and Juventude are by consensus the clubs that will struggle. Vasco da Gama, Cruzeiro and Bahia could also be in a for a long season.

What is certain is that the Serie A will provide plenty of intrigue and great narratives: will Vasco decline even more under the ownership of 777 Partners? Can Botafogo repeat their great run of last season or was 2023 just a one-off for the club owned by John Textor who is increasingly cutting an isolated figure in Brazil? Will Redbull Bragantino be competitive? And what of fallen giants Sao Paulo and Corinthians?

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