Brazilian State Championships: Cruzeiro, Internacional, Santos FC Win Sunday's State Championship Matches

The Brasileiro starts in one week, meaning that this week sees the conclusion of the Brazilian state championships. The Campeonato Carioca has already been decided, but the Paulista, Gaucho, and Mineiro are all up for grabs.

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Campeonato Mineiro 2011, Cruzerio Vs. Atletico Mineiro: A Reposa Lift Trophy

Cruzerio's chances of lifting the 2011 Campeonato Mineiro were looking slim for about 165 minutes. They lost the first leg of the final 2-1 to their arch-rivals, Atletico Mineiro, and their opponent's defense was brilliant in the first half. Finally, after 75 minutes of the second leg, Wallyson struck.

The striker placed a great shot into the corner of the net, tying the score at 2-2 on aggregate, giving Cruzeiro the advantage on away goals, and sending the crowd into raptures. In the 81st minute, Serginho of Atletico Mineiro was sent off, picking up his second yellow card for a hard foul on Thiago Ribero. This all but sealed the win for A Reposa, but Gilberto decided to add the exclamation point on the ensuing free kick, hitting a great shot into the back of the net to give his team the 3-2 aggregate victory.

After a shock exit in Copa Libertadores, Cruzeiro should benefit greatly from the momentum a trophy generates going into the Brasileiro. They were always favored to win the Campeonato Mineiro, but as their loss to Once Caldas showed, nothing is ever certain. They open the Brasileiro next Sunday, away to Figueirense.


Campeonato Gaucho 2011, Internacional Vs. Gremio: Colorado Capture Cup In Dramatic Fashion

The 180 minutes of football between Santos FC and Corinthians in the 2011 Campeonato Paulista were fantastic, but the best viewing in Brazil was to be found in the Campeonato Gaucho, as Internacional and Gremio required penalties. Gremio put in a fantastic performance in the first leg last weekend, winning 3-2, but Internacional incredibly matched them with the exact same result this week. With the series tied at 5-5 on aggregate, the teams went to penalties where the Colorado came out ahead.

Just 15 minutes into the game, Gremio scored to make the score 4-2 in favor of them on aggregate, thanks to a goal by Lucio, who was getting forward from his left back position. It didn't take long for the Colorado to find an equalizer, as their leading scorer Leandro Damiao added to his impressive goal scoring record in the 31st minute. Just before the stroke of halftime, Internacional leveled the score at 4-4 on aggregate, as Andrezinho scored in second half stoppage time.

In the 72nd minute, Victor hauled down Ze Roberto in the box, gifting Inter a penalty kick. Their star playmaker Andres D'Alessandro converted, and Internacional looked like they were on their way to the title. Gremio would even the game, though, as free-scoring veteran forward Borges scored in the 81st minute to tie the score at 5-5 on aggregate.

Both teams had a couple of back to back misses in the penalty shootout to push the shootout past the normal five shots, but Adilson eventually missed in sudden death for Gremio, allowing Ze Roberto to score the winning penalty, giving the Colorado the title.


Campeonato Paulista 2011, Santos Vs. Corinthians: Neymar, Arouca Goals Fire Santos To Title

After a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the 2011 Campeonato Paulista championship, Santos FC came out guns blazing on Sunday against Corinthians and they will go into the Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores quarterfinals with the momentum and confidence that they built by becoming Paulista champions, as they defeated Corinthians 2-1 on Sunday afternoon.

Defensive midfielder Arouca, surging forward from a deep position, scored the first goal of the game on a close range finish, assisted by Elano, while Neymar added the second goal in stunning fashion, beating multiple defenders to set up a shooting opportunity, then sliding it under the goalkeeper. Corinthians made it dramatic at the end with an 85th minute goal from Morais, but Santos were able to hold on to lift the title.

With one major trophy won and another very much in their sights ahead of the Brasileiro, new manager Muricy Ramalho is off to a fantastic start with Santos, who look like they're going to have a great 2011.


Brazilian State Championships: Campeonato Paulista, Gaucho, Mineiro All Up For Grabs

The start of the Brasileiro is a week away, meaning that this weekend sees the State leagues wrap up. Flamengo have captured the 2011 Campeonato Carioca without the need for a final by winning both Tacas, but Brazil's other three major state championships are still up for grabs. Santos FC and Corinthians contest the final of the Campeonato Paulista, Internacional and Gremio face off in the final of the Campeonato Gaucho, and Cruzeiro takes on Atletico Mineiro for the Campeonato Mineiro title.

Campeonato Paulista

Corinthians vs. Santos FC

Sunday, 3 pm ET

The first leg of this tie ended 0-0 last week, leaving both teams with everything to play for on Sunday. Santos have been dealt a blow with the injury to Paulo Henrique Ganso, but Alan Patrick looked like a great replacement mid-week in Copa Libertadores. Corinthians are a team in a bit of turmoil when it comes to player movement, but they're still a very talented side with a great chance to defeat Santos. Watch out for attacking midfielder Bruno Cesario, who has scored in buckets for Corinthians.

Campeonato Gaucho

Internacional vs. Gremio

Sunday, 3 pm ET

Both Internacional and Gremio won a Taca in the Gaucho state championship, creating the need for a final. Gremio won the first leg 3-2 and has to feel optimistic going into the second leg. Both teams were recently knocked out of Copa Libertadores in surprising fashion, so a state championship win would be a great morale boost for either team heading into the Brasileiro. Andres D'Alessandro pulls the strings for Inter, and he'll likely have a few battles with Fabio Rochemback, who bosses the midfield for Gremio.

Campeonato Mineiro

Cruzeiro vs. Atletico Mineiro

Sunday, 3 pm ET

Cruzeiro were running riot through the Mineiro state championship and the Copa Libertadores, but it's been a rough couple of weeks for A Raposa. First, they were unexpectedly bounced out of Copa by Once Caldas, then they lost the first leg of this tie 2-1 to their biggest rivas, Atletico Mineiro. If they don't get a win on Sunday, they might feel like they're going into free fall mode. They're heavy favorites, but after what happened to them against Once Caldas, it might not be a smart move to bet on Cruzeiro.

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