Football Season Guide

Athletico Paranaense

In


Madson (def) Grêmio, Robson Bambu (def) Santos, Khellven (def) youth system, Marquinho (mid) Fluminense, Leo Cittadini (mid) Santos, João Pedro (mid) Botafogo – return from loan, Tomás Andrade (mid) Atlético Mineiro, Erick (mid) Operário Ferroviário, Marco Ruben (att) Rosario Central, ARG – on loan, Poveda (att) Alverca, POR – on loan, Jaderson (mid/att) youth system

Out


Raphael Veiga (r)(mid) Palmeiras – return from loan, Pablo (k)(att) São Paulo, Guilherme (sp)(mid) Corinthians – return from loan, Marcinho (sp)(att) São Bernardo – return from loan

Last season saw the team from Paraná getting back at a respectful position in the table, having been 7th in Brasileirão, all this in a fantastic 2017 that had Furacão clinching the Sulamericana title. Just like in previous seasons, they have saved the A-team for the big competitions, in the first half of 2019, playing with the U-23 in the regionals. Even the head coach Tiago Nunes is only taking care of continental games before the start of Brasileirão. Star striker Pablo and attacking midfielder Raphael Veiga are gone, while Lucho Gonzales is not getting any younger. Argentineans Tomas Andrade and Marco Ruben arrived to replace Veiga and Pablo; Cittadini and Bambu can be good options on the long term. The fact that most of last season's team was kept is a big favourable point. The likes of Renan Lodi (LB) and Bruno Guimarães (CM) are big talents highly sought in Europe; Cirino, Rony and Nikão are a promise of constant threat in attack. It has been made clear that there are expectations for the club to reach the next level and get closer to the top teams in the country. One wonders if that won’t be hurting a squad that may not have yet the goods to deliver and meet the chairman’s ambition?

Target


Breaking through into the top four would be the ultimate goal, but improving last season’s 7th position will be considered a success as it is. The club is also expected to reach knock-out stages of Libertadores.

Atletico Mineiro

In


Igor Rabello (def) Botafogo; Réver (def) Flamengo; Guga (def) Ava;, Jair (mid) Sport Recife; Vinícius (mid) Bahia; Geuvânio (att) Flamengo; Papagaio (att) Palmeiras – on loan; Maicon Bolt (att) Antalyaspor, TUR

Out


Emerson (r)(def) Betis, SPA; Gabriel França (sp)(def) Botafogo – on loan; Yago Severin (sp)(mid) Sport – on loan; Matheus Galdezani (sp)(mid) Internacional, on loan from Coritiba; Tomas Andrade (sp)(mid) Athl. Paranaense; Edinho (sp)(att) Fortaleza – on loan; Denilson (sp)(att) Al-Faisaly, SAU

After having been on the top places of the table last year, Galo parked on the 6th position thanks to a stable second part of league campaign. In 2019, and after some very strong first weeks, Galo ended up losing three games in Libertadores which led to Levir Culpi being sacked. The club is currently searching for a replacement, and Galo will play Mineirão finals with arch-rivals managed by an interim. Having a new manager just some days before the start of the league season can’t possibly be a good thing. However, the squad seems significantly stronger, with only one important departure and some good signings. Promising full-back Emerson went to Spain; Guga arrived from Avaí to replace him. Rever and Igor Rabello arrived to strengthen an already very competent defensive line. Revelation in Sport, Jair has joined in to increase the options in midfield, while the flamboyant left-footed winger Geuvânio will challenge Luan and Chara for a place in the attack. The fact that Juan Cazares has finally been consistent in his performances in 2019 is encouraging. The biggest source of worries is the striker position, as the team continues very dependant on the 39-years old Ricardo Oliveira. The 19-years old Alerrandro is an obvious talent, but will he be ready to lead the attack during the multiple times Ricardo Oliveira will need to rest?

Target


Galo will definitely want to push for a better place than last season. A top-4 place is very affordable. A race for the title will so much depend on how quickly the new coach will start delivering.

Avai FC

In


Vladimir (gk) Santos – on loan; Lucas Frigeri (gk) São Caetano – on loan; Glédson (gk) América RN; João Vítor (def)( Fluminense – on loan; Alex Silva (def) Atl. Mineiro – on loan; Ricardo Thalheimer (def) São Luiz; Julinho (def) Consadolle Sapporo, JAP; Jonny Mosquera (mid) America de Cali; João Paulo (mid) Tombense – on loan; Gegê (mid) Adana Demirspor, TUR; Douglas (mid) Grêmio; Dudu (mid) Inter de Lages – return from loan; Lucas Falcão (mid) Inter de Lages – return from loan; Feliciano Brizuela (att) 3 de Febrero, PRY – on loan

Out


Aranha (r)(gk) Released; Kozlinski (sp)(gk) Atl. Goianense; Rubinho (sp)(gk) released; Guga (r)(def) Atlético Mineiro; Airton (r)(def) Ponte Preta – on loan; Alemão (r)(def) Al-Hazm, SAU; Capa (r)(def) Vitória – on loan; João Paulo (sp)(def) CRB; Tiago Cametá (sp)(def) Vila Nova; Judson (k)(mid) San Jose Earthquakers, USA; Renato (k)(mid) Chapecoense; Martinuccio (sp)(mid) CD Mostoles, SPA; Menezes (sp)(def/mid) Cruzeiro RS; Lucas Chapecó (sp)(mid) Tombense; Marquinhos (r)(mid) retired; Rômulo (k)(att) Al-Dhafra, UAE; Rodrigão (r)(att) Coritiba; Maurinho (sp)(att) Ferroviária; Guillermo Beltran (sp)(att) Deportivo Santaní, PRY; Rafinha (sp)(att) Cafetaleros, MEX

The team from Santa Catarina is back at the top flight two years after. They are back thanks to a steady season in 2018. Some less enthusiastic moments, like the four defeats in six games in September or the slow final five rounds, almost gave away what was an otherwise very tidy run. There was a big reshape of the squad, with many important players from last season going elsewhere: the entire back-four plus the keeper(s), but most noticeable the key midfielders Renato and Judson as well as the attackers Rodrigão and Rômulo. There was obviously a good amount of players arriving, but very few should make an immediate impact. The pedigree from Italian football on Jonny Mosquera and the unquestionable talent of the aged playmaker Douglas are the ones that will definitely add something to the squad. The key players for the upcoming season may be the ones that got this team promoted, though. The attacking foursome has been quite impressive during the first months of 2019: João Paulo, Pedro Castro, Daniel Amorim and particularly Getúlio are names to keep an eye on. Nonetheless, the team seems very vulnerable if a couple of those key players miss out. The fact that almost half the squad is on loan doesn’t help either.

Target


Avoid relegation only. Avaí won’t be aiming for anything higher than those places just above the red line.

Botafogo FR

In


Diego Cavalieri (gk) Crystal Palace, ENG; Gabriel França (def) Atl. Mineiro – on loan; Alex Santana (mid) Paraná; Alan Santos (mid) Tigres, MEX – on loan; Cícero (mid) Grêmio; Gustavo Ferrareis (mid) Internacional - on loan; Diego Souza (att) São Paulo

Out


Saulo (sp)(gk) Vila Nova – on loan; Jefferson (sp)(gk) retired; Yuri (sp)(def) Figueirense – on loan; Luís Ricardo (sp)(def) Ponte Preta; Igor Rabello (k)(def) Atl. Mineiro; Moisés (r)(def) Bahia; Dudu Cearense (sp)(mid) retired; Marcelo (sp)(mid) Desp. Aves, POR; Renatinho (sp)(mid) Goiás; Marcos Vinícius (sp)(mid) Chapecoense – on loan; Rodrigo Lindoso (k)(mid) Internacional; Matheus Fernandes (r)(mid) Palmeiras; Brenner (r)(att) Goiás; Ezequiel (sp)(att) Sport Recife – on loan; Aguirre (sp)(att) LDU Quito, ECU

Botafogo had their worst season performance since they got back to the top flight division in 2016. Something that was certainly not strange to the fact that both goalkeepers Gatito and Jefferson spent most of the season out on injury, only returning for the final rounds. Three highly important players, Igor Rabello, Matheus Fernandes and Rodrigo Lindoso left to join some traditional rivals. The replacement of the three has been questionable, at the very least. The reinforcement of the attack was more promising with the international Diego Souza arriving from São Paulo. While already 33, he is one of the highest hopes of the fans for the season. Diego Souza will be having the hot company of Erik, arguably the club’s player in better shape in 2019, so far. At the back, it will be vital that experienced Joel Carli recovers quickly from injury. Aside from the fact that the exceptionally important goalkeeper Gatito is free from injuries in 2019 and is expected to hold many points for Fogão with his saves, the squad seems weakened when compared to last year, especially in depth.

Target


Botafogo is not expected to improve from last season’s mid-table position. In fact, it won’t be a surprise to watch Fogão involved in the relegation race at some point in the season.

Ceara

In


Richard (gk) Paraná; Cristovam (def) Suwon Bluewings, KOR; Charles Reiter (def) Paraná; Thiago Carleto (def) Al Ittihad, SAU; Felipe Baxola (mid) Sanfreece Hiroshima, JAP; Auremir (mid) Erzurum, TUR; Fernando Sobral (mid) Sampaio Correa: Chico Sol Kim (mid) Pohang Steelers, KOR; William Oliveira (mid) Sampaio Correa; Roger (att) Corinthians: Matheus Matias (att) Corinthians – on loan; Vitor Feijão (att) Paraná; João Paulo (att) Criciuma

Out


Everson (k)(gk) Santos; Felipe Jonathan (r)(def) Santos; Arnaldo (sp)(def) Ponte Preta; Javier Reina (sp)(mid) Once Caldas; Pio (sp)(mid) Red Bull BR; Jackson Caucaia (sp)(mid) Criciuma; Richardson (k)(mid) Kashiwa Reysol, JAP; Jown Cardona (sp)(mid) Deportivo Pasto, COL; Leandro Canhoto (sp)(mid/att) Aimoré; Calyson (r)(att) São Caetano; Éder Luís (sp)(att) São Bento; Felipe Azevedo (r)(att) America Mineiro); Arthur Cabral (k)(att) Palmeiras; Robinho (sp)(att) Columbus Crew, USA

Ceará produced nothing short of a miracle last season: after an awful start (12 first rounds without victories), and several weeks on the bottom of the table, Ceará managed to have a fantastic last third and escaped relegation on the last rounds. The absolute three biggest references of the last season are gone: goalkeeper Everson left to join Santos, highly important midfielder Richardson moved to Japan and the star of the team Arthur saw his excellent season earn him a move to champions Palmeiras. Richard arrived to replace Everson after a good season at Paraná. Felipe Baxola traveled back from Japan. Roger arrived from Corinthians to re-launch his career and lead Ceara’s attack. Matheus Matias is at Ceara to have more minutes in top flight and show all his potential. Ceará will have to mostly rely on the backbone coming from last season. Samuel Xavier in defense and the four ‘inhos’ in midfield will be paramount on Ceará’s season. Coach Liscá was last season’s major reason for success. Keeping him on the club was a major boost. One of the biggest challenges for Cearenses will be on the medical department. Last season was stained by multiple injuries on key players. Tiago Alves, Quixadá and Pedro Ken have already spent more time on treatment than on the pitch this year.

Target


Ceará fans won’t be demanding much from the club. Avoiding relegation and hence assuring a third consecutive season on Série A will be an unmatched milestone on the club’s modern days.

Chapecoense

In


Elias (gk) Vitória – returned from loan; João Ricardo (gk) America Mineiro; Gum (def) Fluminense; Joilson (def) Oeste; Marcos Vinícius (mid) Botafogo – on loan; Renato (mid) Avaí; Augusto César (mid) Querataro, MEX; Gustavo Campanharo (mid) Ludogorets, BUL; Lourency (att) Brasil de Pelotas – return from loan; Rildo (att) Vasco da Gama; Everaldo (att) Queretaro, MEX

Out


Jandrei (k)(gk)(Genoa, ITA), Marcos Vinícius (sp)(def)(Criciuma), Fabrício Bruno (r)(def) Cruzeiro – return from loan; Rafael Thyere (r)(def) Gremio – return from loan; Apodi (r)(def)(CSA), Neném (sp)(mid) retired; Hector Canteros (r)(mid) Ankaraguçu, TUR; Agustin Doffo (r)(mid/att) O’Higgins, CHI; Barreto (sp)(mid) Red Bull BR; Vinícius Santos Silva (sp)(mid/att) Criciuma; Osman (sp)(mid/att)(Red Bull BR; Wellington Paulista (k)(att) Fortaleza; Capixaba (sp)(att) Vila Nova; Leandro Pereira (r)(att) Matsumoto Yamaga, JAP

After a lackluster performance for most of the season, Chapecoense lifted themselves to a safe place in the final rounds of the season, when Claudinei Oliveira (the third coach of the campaign) arrived to save Chape from relegation in the very last round with a memorable win over São Paulo. Chape lost almost their entire backline, as key goalkeeper Jandrei, iconic full-back Apodi and centre-halves Thyere and Fabrício are gone. Midfielders Doffo, Osman and Canteros, but most importantly the strikers Leandro Pereira and Wellington Paulista will be missed. João Ricardo, from relegated America, and Gum, from Fluminense, are excellent signings for the back, but is it enough? Companharo arrives from Bulgary and seems already a hit as playmaker. In the attack the hopes lie on Everaldo (coming from Mexico) and the talented, but highly injury-prone, Rildo. While short in numbers and deserving some doubts, the new signings will always have to depend on the good form of the core players from last season. The likes of midfielder Márcio Araújo, Elicarlos and Amaral will provide quality in midfield for the team to build on. There have been already 22 different players injured this year. Some of them with moderate to high severity. And there was already agitation on the dugout, with Claudinei Oliveira leaving the club in March. Ney Franco arrived to replace him.

Target


It isn’t expected any special achievement from the southern side. Escaping relegation should again be the fate of this tragedy-prone club.

CR Flamengo

In


Rodrigo Caio (def) São Paulo; De Arrascaeta (mid) Cruzeiro; Gabigol (att) Santos; Bruno Henrique (att) Santos

Out


Júlio César (sp)(gk) retired; Réver (r)(def) Atlético Mineiro; Jean Lucas (sp)(mid) Santos – on loan; Éderson (sp)(mid) released; Rômulo (sp)(mid) Grêmio; Lucas Paquetá (k)(mid) AC Milan, ITA; Henrique Dourado (r)(att) Henan Jianye, CHI; Marlos Moreno (sp)(att) Santos Laguna, MEX

Despite having finished second, last season was a disappointment. No titles whatsoever after one of the biggest investments ever made in the country. 2019 has started a little bit more promising, with attendance on Carioca finals, but there were still more bumps on the way. The transfer marker approach has been much more discrete with only four new names joining in. Arrascaeta was the most expensive player ever bought by a Brazilian club. But that was just a small portion of the big sum involved in the move out of rising star Lucas Paquetá. Ironically, De Arrascaeta was the only one of the four new signings who hasn’t had an immediate impact. He is still more of a sub while Caio is already a solid piece in defence and the former Santos attacking duo, Bruno Henrique and Gabigol, have been scoring for fun already. Solving the problem that affected goalkeeper Diego Alves last season was a major part of any success Flamengo may achieve this year. If Everton keeps out from injuries and a place for De Arrascaeta is found on the side, Flamengo has it all to reach success. Some doubts were raised on whether Abel Braga still has it to command such an ambitious and modern project. The squad lacked a proper winning attitude in some moments last season. The quality of the full-backs may not match the rest of the lineup.

Target


The fans won’t demand anything less than the title this year.

CR Vasco da Gama

In


Raul Caceres (def) Cerro Porteño, PAR; Cláudio Winck (def) Sport Recife; Danilo Barcelos (def/mid) Ponte Preta – on loan from Atl. Mineiro; Fellipe Bastos (mid) Sport Recife; Lucas Mineiro (mid) Chapecoense – on loan; Yan Sasse (mid) Coritiba – on loan; Guilherme Costa (mid) Vitória – return from loan; Ribamar (att) Ohod, SAU: Rossi (att) Internacional – on loan from Shenzhen, CHI

Out


Martin Silva (r)(gk) Libertad, PAR; Rafael Galhardo (r)(def) Grêmio; Fabrício (sp)(def/mid) Vitória; Leandro Desabato (sp)(mid) Cerezo Osaka, JAP; Giovanni Augusto (sp)(mid) Corinthians – return from loan: Bruno Cosendey (sp)(mid) Criciúma – on loan; Andres Rios (sp)(att) Racing Club, ARG; Kelvin (r)(att) Porto, POR – return from loan; Rildo (att) Chapecoense

In 2018, Vasco just survived from relegation in the very last round, after a very shaky performance throughout the year. Vasco seemed more composed in 2019, but they always do it in Campeonato Carioca. Having reached the finals was not enough for gaffer Valentim to be safe. The squad doesn’t seem that much stronger than last season’s. An absolute star in 2018, Maxi Lopez may not be in the amazing form he showed last season. Martin Silva is no longer on goal, but Fernando Miguel seemed to be taking his place late on the season anyway. Alberto Valentim liked to have a pragmatic approach, often adapting to the opponent’s characteristics and the difficulty of the game. While a good approach for collecting points throughout the season, this also promotes frequent irregular sequence on the long run. It has to be seen what his successor's approach will be, though. Pikachu is the most solid talent; Marrony provides flair using his pace on the wings. Bruno César’s long distance shots are always a threat. Maxi Lopez and Ribamar always have a goal in them. The defensive system led by Castan is usually reliable. Lucas Santos is the youngster to pay attention on. Vasco has been known from doing horrible transitions from State Championships to Brasileirão, where they suddenly assume a small team’s role, preventing them to claim more respectable positions on the table. The very poor financial status doesn’t help much, either.

Target


Aiming for anything higher than avoiding relegation will be too optimistic. Hopefully, the club will be doing it earlier than last season’s, though.

Cruzeiro EC

In


Dodô (def) Santos – on loan from Sampdoria, ITA; Luis Orejuela (def) Ajax, NED – on loan; Fabrício Bruno (ded) Chapecoense – return from loan; Jadson (mid) Fluminense; Rodriguinho (mid) Pyramids, EGY; Marquinhos Gabriel (mid) Al-Nasr, UAE, Pedro Rocha (att), Spartak Moscow, RUS – on loan; Vinícius Popó (att) youth system

Out


Lucas França (sp)(gk) Nacional, POR – on loan; Patrick Brey (sp)(def) Coritiba – on loan; Marcelo Hermes (sp)(def) Goiás – on loan; Manoel (sp)(def) Corinthians – on loan; Ezequiel (sp)(def) Fluminense; Bruno Silva (sp)(mid) Fluminense; F. Mancuello (sp)(mid) Toluca, MEX; De Arrascaeta (k)(mid) Flamengo; Rafael Sóbis (sp)(att) Internacional; Rafael Marques (sp)(att) São Caetano; Hernan Barcos (r)(att) Atletico Nacional, COL; Laércio (sp)(att) Ipatinga – on loan

2018 brought a mix of feelings: on one hand they grabbed the biggest prize award, the Brazilian Cup; however, they finished 7th in the league in a season with a huge investment made. 2019 started well with good performances in both Libertadores and Mineirão. The biggest part of preparing the squad for 2019 was to drop some of the players in excess the squad had while keeping the biggest assets still around. There was however a major blow in the departing of their best attacking player De Arrascaeta for the rivals Flamengo. Pedro Rocha has just arrived on loan from Russia; should he pick where he left one year ago at Grêmio, he can be a good replacement for Arrascaeta. Signing Rodriguinho was a major step for Cruzeiro that now possesses a great playmaker, something they clearly missed last season. Despite having let go of a few units and reducing the squad significantly, Cruzeiro still is one of the sides with the biggest depth in them, which makes Raposa ready again to face the always demanding season in Brazil. The fact that Fred seems definitely out of injury trouble is a big boost. The advanced age on almost all first team players may be a problem down the road.

Target


While not the absolute favourites, Cruzeiro will be one of the teams expected to be involved in the title race until very late.

CSA

In


Jordi (gk) Vasco – on loan; Fabrício (gk) Boa Esporte; João Carlos (gk) CRB; Pablo Armero (def) America de Cali, COL; Pedro Rosa (def) Al-Orobah, SAU; Ronaldo Alves (def) Sport Recife; Carlinhos (def) Paysandu; Apodi (def) Ohod, SAU; Luciano Castan (def) Al-Khor, QAT; Gerson (def) Lechia Gdansk, POL; Naldo (mid) Al-Fahya, SAU; Mauro Silva (mid) Bangu; Madson (mid) Fortaleza – on loan; Lucca Motta (mid) Botafogo; Amaral (mid) Boa Esporte; Cristian Maidana (mid) Deportivo Capiatá, PRY; Jhonnatan (mid) Náutico – on loan; Bruno Ramires (mid) Cruzeiro; Matheus Savio (mid) Flamengo – on loan; Robinho (att) Fluminense – on loan; Wytallo (att) Ponte Preta; Andres Manga Escobar (att) Tolima, COL; Cassiano (att) Heilongjiang Lava Spring, CHI; Lohan (att) Friburguense – on loan; Hiago (att) Kalmar, SWE – on loan; Patrick Fabiano (att) Al-Salmiya, KUW – on loan

Out


Felipe Garcia (sp)(gk) Tombense; Lucas Frigeri (r)(gk) Avaí; Mota (sp)(gk) Paysandu; Dalton (sp)(gk) Boa Esporte; Roger (sp)(def) Botafogo SP; Matheus Lopes (sp)(def) Paraná; Rodrigo Lobão (sp)(def) Bangu; Daniel Costa (r)(mid) Criciúma; Yuri (r)(mid) Bahia; Eduardo Echeverría (r)(mid) Remo; Juan (sp)(mid) Tombense; Pio (r)(mid) Red Bull BR; Boquita (sp)(mid) Brasil de Pelotas;

This will be the first season in the top flight for Alagoanos in the modern day era of Brasileirão. CSA had a great 2018 league season, but it was all decided only in the last round when they grabbed an impressive away 4-0 win as a show of pure desire to be in Série A in 2019. But never mind what happened last season, as this 2019 version is a completely different one for CSA. Only 10 players out of the 35 forming the current squad came from last season. The likes of Dawhan and Didira will keep the spirit from the historic promotion. Club has mixed up some experienced familiar faces of Série A like full-back Apodi and Armero, midfielders Naldo and Amaral and creative Madson with some others with yet something to prove at this level, like Ronaldo Alves and Bruno Ramires. Attacking midfielder Matheus Savio seems on the right context to make his definite affirmation. He will be orchestrating CSA’s attacks. Gerson in defence and Patrick Fabiano in attack have had most of their careers out of the country, but have been already impressive in the course of 2019. While tidily organized, this squad seems not to have that big amount of sparkling talent that often makes the difference down the road. The inexperience of the club at the top flight and the unfamiliarity among all players are also issued to be addressed carefully.

Target


CSA is expected to struggle. Avoiding relegation by one point would be already a big achievement.

EC Bahia

In


Ernando (def) Sport; Moisés (def) Botafogo; Xandão (def) CSA; Guilherme (mid) Athl. Paranaense – on loan from Corinthians; Douglas (mid) Corinthians – on loan; Shaylon (mid) São Paulo – on loan; Fernandão (att) Fenerbache, TUR; Rogério (att) Sport Recife; Artur (att) Palmeiras – on loan; Arthur Caike (att) Al-Shabab, SAU – on loan

Out


Tiago Pagnussat (r)(def) Lanus, ARG – on loan; Leo (r)(def) São Paulo; Douglas Grolli (r)(def) Marítimo, POR; Bruno (r)(def) Internacional; Agustin Allione (sp)(mid) Rosario Central, ARG; Vinicius (r)(mid) Atl. Mineiro; Regis (r)(mid) Corinthians; Edson (sp)(mid) Ponte Preta; Zé Rafael (r)(mid) Palmeiras; Edigar Junio (r)(att) Yokohama Marinos, JAP – on loan

The final 11th place of last season hid what was a performance that at one point seemed to be leading the Baianos into a race for a Libertadores spot. On top of a solid domestic run, Bahia had a good display in Copa Sulamericana as well. Having been knocked-out from both Nordestão and Sulamericana quite early on the year led to Enderson Moreira being sacked. Former Palmeiras and Grêmio coach Roger Machado arrived to pick up the pieces. Bahia is expected to play a possession, attractive style as Roger Machado is usually non-negotiable about his short-passing approach. However, the team has been struggling precisely on their build-up phase. One wonders if the squad is suited for the style. There was quite a massive exit of important players. The entire back-four has left, as well as Vinicius, Régis, Edigar Junio and, most notably, the exciting attacking midfielder Zé Rafael, who joined the champions Palmeiras. Nevertheless, there is still enough talent on the side. The board brought some interesting players, namely the promising kids Shaylon and Artur, both on loan from bigger teams. Full-back Moisés and midfielder Douglas have had a big impact already, as well. The spotlight will however be elsewhere. The 18-years old highly promising midfielder Ramires appeared out of nothing in the middle of last season and is already one of the most interesting talents on the country.

Target


Bahia will aim for a top-10 place, as the fans will feel that only running away from relegation will be a step down after the solid 2018 season.

Fluminense FC

In


Agenor (gk) Guarani; Ezequiel (def) Cruzeiro; Matheus Ferraz (def) Guarani; Leo Santos (def) Corinthians – on loan; Nino (def) Criciúma – on loan; Mascarenhas (def) Atlético Goianense – return from loan; Paulo Henrique Ganso (mid) Sevilla, SPA; Caio Henrique (mid) Paraná – on loan from At. Madríd, SPA; Ewandro Costa (att) Austria Wien, AUT – on loan from Udinese, ITA; Leo Artur (att) Ferrovária – on loan

Out


Nathan Ribeiro (sp)(def) Fortaleza – on loan; Roger Ibanez (r)(def) Atalanta, ITA; Ygor Nogueira (sp)(def) Figueirense – on loan; Renato Chaves (r)(def) Al-Wehda, SAU; Gum (k)(def) Chapecoense; Luan Peres (sp)(def) Club Brugges, BEL; Leo (r)(def) São Paulo; Ayton Lucas (r)(def) Spartak Moscow, RUS; Junior Sornoza (k)(mid) Corinthians; Jadson (r)(mid) Cruzeiro; Fernando Neto (sp)(mid) Paraná; Richard (r)(mid) Corinthians; Marcos Júnior (sp)(att) Yokohama Marinos, JAP; Júnior Dutra (sp)(att) Al-Nasr, UAE; Kayke (sp)(att) Goiás; Bryan Cabezas (sp)(att) Emelec, ECU

Ever since the title in 2012, Flu has been highly disappointing, and last season was yet another bottom half position from Tricolores. Deep financial troubles and a severe injury in their only real talent brought Fluminense into being involved in the relegation race until late in the season. The financial crisis still affects the club, which was perceptible in the way the team approached the transfer market. Some important players have left, such as Gum, Ayrton, Leo, Richard, Jadson or even Junior Sornoza who was the team's biggest refference after Pedro’s injury. Leo Santos is a good add for the defence, but there haven’t been many other exciting new signings. The team will be highly dependent on two uncertain things to avoid another negative season: a quick and safe recovery of key striker Pedro and the emergence of some new talents. Fluminense will be heavily relying on the talent of their biggest signing for 2019, PH Ganso. The former wonderkid has been a disappointment almost everywhere he has been, but he may have the ideal conditions to shine again in a team where he will be the undisputed maestro. In a very demanding season like the one approaching, there will be many times where Ganso and Pedro won’t be available. The side won’t look menacing to any team in Série A without those two.

Target


While the name and the history of the club makes it sound cruel, the truth is that Flu is expected to be hovering the red zone, at best, this season. Finishing on the top half of the table would be considered a high success.

Fortaleza EC

In


Felipe Alves (gk) Athletico Paranaense; Felipe Araruna (def/mid) São Paulo – on loan; Nathan O. Ribeiro (def) Fluminense – on loan; Juan Quintero (def) Deportivo Cali, COL; Patrick (def) Ferroviária – on loan; Carlinhos (def) América Mineiro; Diego Ferreira (def) Athl. Paranaense - on loan from Tombense; Edinho (mid/att) Atl. Mineiro – on loan; Gabriel Dias (mid) Internacional – on loan; Paulo Roberto (mid) Corinthians – on loan; Santiago Romero (mid) Nacional, URU; Wellington Paulista (att) Chapecoense; Junior Santos (att) Ponte Preta; Matheus Alessandro (att) Fluminense – on loan;

Out


Gabriel Felix (sp)(gk) Vasco – return from loan; Diego Jussani (k)(def) América Mineiro; Ligger (r)(def) Red Bull BR; Leonan (sp)(def) Botafogo SP; Adalberto (sp)(def) ABC – on loan; Ivan (sp)(def) ABC – on loan; Fabinho (sp)(def) Nova Hamburgo; Pablo (sp)(mid) São Bento; Igor Henrique (sp)(mid) Ponte Preta; Jean Patrick (sp)(mid) Gremio Novorizontino; Nenê Bonilha (r)(mid) Vera Cruz, MEX; João Henrique (sp)(mid) Cuiabá; Anderson Uchoa (sp)(mid) Ferroviária; Gustavo (k)(att) Corinthians – return from loan; Wilsson (sp)(att) Mirassol; Wesley Pibinha (sp)(att) Atibaia; Alípio (sp)(att) Figueirense;

Fortaleza is back to prime Brazilian football 14 years after their latest appearance. All thanks to an amazing 2018 display that saw Tricolores fly over every opponent in Série B. And it doesn’t look like their losing any gas in 2019, having had quite some impact in all competitions involved so far. State Championship final to be played and currently on semi-finals of Nordestão (big regional cup) are an exciting start of the year. ‘Tricolor de Aço’ lost some vital assets, like ‘Gustagol’, who was arguably the best player of the entire second division, scoring 30 goals in 2018, 14 of them in Série B. Jussani and Ligger may be missed in defence. However, not only the core of the squad was kept (most notably goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe), some interesting new signings were also made. Junior Santos has already made an impact with 10 goals scored on his first three months. Edinho, Paulo Roberto, Araruna and Gabriel Dias are all set up to impress their parent clubs. The club is capable of getting frequent crowds of over 50k at the majestic ‘Castelão’ which often creates an environment hard to deal for the opponents. The severe injury on the important all rounded attacker Ederson is a major blow. There is a clear lack of a trustworthy playmaker in the squad. Nenê from São Paulo may join in.

Target


While this season should be all about avoiding relegation, Fortaleza is the likeliest of the four new promoted teams to over achieve.

Goias EC

In


Sidão (gk) São Paulo, Tadeu (gk) Ferroviária – on loan; Daniel Guedes (def) Santos – on loan; Yago F. Silva (def) Botafogo – on loan from Corinthians; Yago Rocha (def) Goiânia; Rafael Vaz (def) Flamengo; Nilson Loyola (def) Melgar, PER; Marcelo Hermes (def) Cruzeiro; Geovane (mid) Vila Nova; Renatinho (mid) Botafogo – on loan from Mirassol; Marlone (mid) Sport Recife – on loan from Corinthians; Giovanni Augusto (mid) Vasco – on loan from Corinthians; Kayke (att) Fluminense; Junior Brandão (att) Ludogorets, BUL – on loan; Marcinho Junior (att) Athl. Paranaense – on loan from S. Bernardo; Leandro Barcia (att) Nacional, URU – on loan; Brenner (att) Botafogo – on loan from Internacional; Giovany (att) Athl. Paranaense – on loan;

Out


Paulo Henrique (sp)(gk) Cuiabá – on loan; Tiago Cardoso (sp)(gk) Mirassol; Alex Silva (r)(def) Avaí; Ernandes (r)(def) released; Edcarlos (r)(def) Vitória; Breno (sp)(def) Figueirense – on loan; Elyeser (sp)(mid) Coritiba – on loan; Giovani (k)(mid) Coritiba; Renato Cajá (r)(mid) released; Felipe Garcia (sp)(mid/att) Vitória; Maranhão (r)(att) Fluminense – return from loan; Lucão (k)(att) Kuwait SC, KUW; Carlos Eduardo (k)(mid/att) Pyramids, EGY; Junior Viçosa (r)(att) Américo Mineiro; Tiago Luís (sp)(att) S. Bento; Felipe Gedoz (r)(att) Athl. Paranaense – return from loan; Jacó (sp)(att) Juazeirense

After three seasons in Série B, the biggest club from the Centro-Oeste region of the country is back in the top flight. It wasn’t exactly a clean run last season, with qualification achieved only in the last round. The most interesting players of 2018 are gone. Top goalscorer Lucão, the exciting winger Carlos Eduardo and the reliable midfielder Giovani went elsewhere as well as most of the defensive line. The plan for building this squad was to bring some out-casted players from bigger clubs. São Paulo’s second option Sidão will be Goiás safety in goal; promising Yago and experienced Rafael Vaz will cover in defence. Brenner and Kaike will hope to find the goals in them after some disappointing seasons. Perhaps the biggest hopes (but also the biggest question mark) rely on the attacking midfielder Marlone. The no. 10 has the skills and vision to bring Goiás into success all by himself, but for some reason he has failed to deliver for several seasons after the promising spell at Vasco. Having most players on loan from other clubs in the same division will not only cause lots of ineligibilities over the season, it also may not help in building a true team spirit. It is also little reassuring to rely on so many players coming from disappointing seasons.

Target


The club and fans will certainly want to restore their status of solid top flight team. But first they will need to avoid relegation and create momentum in the next seasons. This squad doesn’t seem prepared for anything else, at this moment.

Gremio FBPA

In


Júlio César (gk) Fluminense; Rafael Galhardo (def) Vasco; Rômulo (mid) Flamengo; Walter Montoya (mid) Cruz Azul, MEX – on loan; Diego Tardelli (att) Shandong Luneng, CHI; Felipe Vizeu (att) Udinese, ITA – on loan

Out


Marcelo Grohe (r)(gk) Al Ittihad, SAU; Madson (sp)(def) Athlético Paranaense; Bressan (sp)(def) FC Dallas, USA; Douglas (sp)(mid) Avaí; Ramiro (r)(mid) Corinthians; Cícero (r)(mid) Botafogo; Jael (r)(att) FC Tokyo, JAP

After the major continental success in 2017, Grêmio seemed to want to specialize in Libertadores, Renato Portaluppi using an entire reserve team in many of domestic league matches. Still, Grêmio was a very competitive side in Série A and fought for the top places. The several early upsets in Libertadores may lead Grêmio to focus on the domestic league only. The team certainly has what it takes to join the race, specially after strikers Filipe Vizeu and Diego Tardelli arrivals to strengthen what was arguably last season’s weakest spot. With the best centre-halves partnership of the country, plenty of quality options for the middle and the two new strikers, the biggest issue will be related with Everton. It will be very hard to keep him in the next transfer window, but if Tricolores manage somehow to convince him to stay, Grêmio will definitely be a force. Grêmio will want to keep bringing new talent from the youth system. The likes of Jean Pyerre and Matheus Henrique are two of the most exciting young players in the league, already. Thaciano, Pepê, Thonny Anderson and Vico will all want to make a statement. Luan is having an ever worst spell in 2019 than last season; to save him from absolute decline will be a vital task for Renato. Grohe left the club and his reserve of last season is the new no. 1: does Paulo Victor have what it takes?

Target


If the club makes Série A as their priority for the season, Tricolores Gaúcho should be a contender for the title.

Santos FC

In


Éverson (gk) Ceará, Felipe Aguilar (def) Atletico Nacional, COL, Felipe Jonathan (def) Ceará, Jorge (def) FC Porto/Monaco, Orinho (def) Ponte Preta – return from loan, Christian Cueva (mid) FK Krasnodar, RUS – on loan, Jean Lucas (mid) Flamengo – on loan, Jobson (mid) Red Bull BR; Yeferson Soteldo (att) Univ. Chile, CHL

Out


Vladimir (sp)(gk) Avaí – on loan, Dodô (r)(def) Cruzeiro – on loan from Sampdoria, Robson Bambu (r)(def) Athl. Paranaense, Daniel Guedes (sp)(def) Goiás – on loan, Renato (sp)(mid) retired, Leo Cittadini (sp)(mid) Athl. Paranaense; Gabriel Calabres (sp)(mid) released; Vitor Bueno (sp)(mid) Dynamo Kiev – on loan, Gabigol (k)(att) Flamengo – on loan from Inter Milan, ITA; Bruno Henrique (r)(att) Flamengo

After last season rollercoster ride, Peixe will want a steadier run and a better place on the table. Despite a couple of surprisingly heavy defeats, the first months of 2019 have been slightly encouraging, as the team seems to have material enough for major improvement. Bringing the highly reputed Jorge Sampaoli to lead the team, this year, was a great move, and the Argentinean seems to have already installed a great dynamic of high pressing football and fast tempo attack. Last season’s biggest attacking references Gabigol and Bruno Henrique have joined rivals Flamengo; however, the wonderkid Rodrygo seems ready to have his definite affirmation, and his lightweight and pacey profile seems ideal for Sampaoli’s free-flowing attacking model. Cuevas joined in to provide some much needed creativity on the playmaking role. The very reliable Vanderlei in goal and the strong midfield formed by Pituca, Alison and Sanchez will provide some stability and identity on the transition from last season. Coach Sampaoli has repeatedly mentioned that the team is lacking a proper centre-forward. The attacking trio averages a height of 1.67m. The squad still seems vulnerable in terms of second choices, and they do have a few players highly prone to injuries.

Target


With the competent Sampaoli at the helm and most of last season’s backbone kept untouched, Santos has everything to make a challenge on the top-6 or even top-4 positions. Asking for the title seems too farfetched, though.

Sao Paulo FC

In


Tiago Volpi (gk) Querétaro, MEX – on loan, Leo (def) Bahia, Igor Vinicius (def) Ponte Preta, Lucas Kal (def) Vasco – return from loan, Hernanes (mid) Hebei China Fortune, CHI, Willian Farias (mid) Vitória, Tchê Tchê (mid) Dynamo Kyiv, UCR; Vitor Bueno (mid) Santos – on loan; Jonathan Gomez (mid) Al-Fayha, SAU – return from loan, Pablo (att) Athletico Paranaense, Biro-Biro (att) Shanghai, Shenxin, CHI, Alexandre Pato (att) Tianjin Tianhai, CHI

Out


Sidão (sp)(gk)(Goiás), Rodrigo Caio (sp)(def)(Flamengo), Diego Souza (k)(att)(Botafogo)

After an impressive start of the season, last year, São Paulo dropped their levels in the final stages and ended out of the top four, after several weeks on top of the table. The short and aged squad was perhaps the strongest reason for the team’s late decline. The new season seems more promising, though. Despite a precocious knock-out from Libertadores and some shaky start at Paulistão, Tricolores have reached the State championship finals and showed already some signs of a potential force for Brasileirão. The arrival of new coach Cuca, who assumed the role only in April after recovering from a health problem is a major achievement. Cuca’s tactical wisdom, man management ability and enthusiastic style may be just what Tricolores needed. Also, the squad went for a significant deepening and rejuvenation. Youngsters Liziero, Luan, Helinho and Antony are assuming more important roles on the team. Alexandre Pato and Pablo in attack and Hernanes and Tchê Tchê in midfield are exciting new signings. All positions now seem to have good cover, this year. Everton Cardoso is still the star of the team, but his injuries are a constant problem. The club doesn’t win a single title since winning Sulamericana in 2012. (They are currently on Paulistão finals, though.)

Target


With a significant investment on the squad, Cuca in the dugout and some exciting youngsters popping in, the club seems to be ready to mount a challenge for the title, this year.

SC Corinthians

In


Michel Macedo (def) Las Palmas, SPA; Manoel (def) Cruzeiro; Ramiro (mid) Gremio; Junior Sornoza (mid) Fluminense; Junior Urso (mid) Guangzhou, CHI; Regis (mid) Bahia; Vagner Love (att) Besiktas, TUR; Mauro Boselli (att) Club Leon, MEX; Gustavo (att) Fortaleza – return from loan

Out


Leo Santos (r)(def) Fluminense – on loan; Vilson (sp)(def) retired; Guilherme Mantuan (sp)(def/mid) Ponte Preta – on loan; Douglas (sp)(mid) Bahia – on loan; Paulo Roberto (sp)(mid) Fortaleza; Danilo (sp)(mid/att) retired; Emerson Sheik (sp)(att) retired; Roger (r)(att) Ceará; Jonathan (sp)(att) Hannover, GER – return from loan; Matheus Matias (sp)(mid/att) Ceará – on loan

Timão had their second worst season ever, in 2018, as they came close from major humiliation and avoided relegation only in the final rounds of Brasileirão. A disastrous series of decisions turned the 2017 champions into one of the weakest sides of the league. In order to turn things around completely, the club has put up a plan to get back at success in 2019. The very first step was to bring back coach Fabio Carrille, who was a major part on the club’s success in 2017, proving that there was life after Tite. Off loading the “symbols” of 2018’s failure while bringing some important new names despite the financial difficulties was the other part of the plan. Strikers Roger and Jonathan failed to impress and left; Manoel, Ramiro, Júnior Urso (all free) and Sornoza will improve the team’s quality. Gustavo’s return from loan may have topped all those other moves, as the striker has already proved this year that he can continue his incredible 2018 season at Fortaleza. The likes of Cássio, Fágner, Jadson and Pedrinho are expected to form the backbone of the team, but will they be ready to quickly shift back to a winning mentality after the devastating effects from last season?

Target


While possible, aiming for the title may be too much of a demand, after the devastating 2018 season.

SC Internacional

In


Bruno (def) Bahia; Rodrigo Lindoso (mid) Botafogo; Matheus Galdezani (mid) Atl. Mineiro; Paolo Guerrero (att) ‘end of international ban’; Santiago Trellez (att) São Paulo – on loan; Neilton (att) Vitória; Rafael Sóbis (att) Cruzeiro; Guilherme Parede (att) Coritiba – on loan.

Out


Fabiano (r)(def) Palmeiras – return from loan; Thales (sp)(def) Vitória – on loan; Gabriel Dias (sp)(mid) Fortaleza; Charles (sp)(mid) Sport Recife; Leandro Damião (r)(att) Kawasaki Frontale, JAP; Rossi (sp)(att) Vasco da Gama; Juan Alano (sp)(mid) Coritiba - on loan;

Internacional had an impressive return to the top flight in 2018, having finished top-3 while keeping a fight for the title until later on the season. The lack of quality on the second options led to a drop of form once the injuries started to bother some key players. Colorado has done a great job on the transfer market, and should be considerably stronger for 2019. They have kept almost all first team players, while bringing some quality back up players. An important aspect, since they will play in Libertadores this season. Odair Hellmann likes to set up a 4-3-3 with emphasis on the solid and dynamic midfield. Dourado, Edenilson and Patrick formed the crucial core of last season and this time they will be well covered by new signings Lindoso and Galdezani as well as the recovered Rithely. Greatest news for the season is the availability of Paolo Guerrero. The veteran striker signed last season but saw his heavy international ban being re-applied. He has only debuted for Internacional this April, and already with a goal. Rafael Sóbis was also brought to face the departure of Leandro Damião in attack. The whole right channel seems the team’s softest spot, with Bruno still having a lot to prove at top flight level and D’Alessandro clearly far away from his best fitness days.

Target


The improvement on the squad, now with more solutions for each role, should mean they will be able to mount a more serious challenge on the title, this season.

SE Palmeiras

In


Zé Rafael (mid) Bahia; Raphael Veiga (mid) Ath. Paranaense – return from loan; Matheus Fernandes (mid) Botafogo; Ricardo Goulart (mid/att) Guangzhou Evergrande, CHI – on loan; Felipe Pires (mid/att) Hoffenheim, GER – on loan; Carlos Eduardo (mid/att) Pyramids, EGY; Arthur Cabral (att) Ceará

Out


Nico Freire (sp)(def) LDU Quito, ECU; Papagaio (sp)(att) Atl. Mineiro – on loan

Palmeiras achieved major success last season, but only thanks to the extraordinary work made by Felipão, who picked Verdão 8 points behind the top of the table. An amazing run of 22 undefeated games saw Palmeiras grab the title with considerable margin while reaching semi-finals on Cup and Libertadores. The impressive financial capacity of the club made it possible for the squad not to lose a single player while adding some exciting new names to an already strong squad. Of those new players, Ricardo Goulart is the one expected to have a quicker and more significant impact. Having more than two highly competent players for each position (squad has 31 “first team” players) the biggest weapon of the team is their ability to rest players for fun. The big number of players can also bring some problems: some high pedigree players may feel they should be playing more (Lucas Lima, Hyoran and Moisés, for example); togetherness and routine-plays may be weakened with so much rotation going on. Scolari has been accused of setting up the team to play in a very conservative style, which can bring problems against tactically astute teams. The quality of the strikers may not match that of the rest of the team.

Target


Palmeiras are the favourites to win the league, even if they will have history against them as very rarely a team has made it twice in a row.