Brasileiro Serie A - One of the craziest title race stories ever

Published on 5 December 2023 at 13:00

Botafogo haven't been crowned Campeonato Serie A champions since 1995, struggling to compete against the financial behemoths such as serial winners Palmerias and Flamengo in recent years. This season they have been engrossed in an unprecedent title race in which they looked certain to end their 28 year dormancy, until an unparalleled turn of events extraordinarily de-railed their campaign.


Botafogo boasted a 14 point advantage at the summit of the table in early August, in which they had recorded 15 wins in 19 games and kept 13 clean sheets. 

The Brazilian minnows had crafted a physically astute and powerful counter-attacking style where their aerial prowess and defensive solidity made them a difficult team to break down. They had been intelligent with recruitment; scouting across Europe where they have acquired a plethora of top talents such as former Nice midfielder Danilo, Lazio defender Bastos and FC Porto talisman Tiquinho Soares. 

During the summer, they signed outcast Wolves duo Diego Costa and Fernando Marcal on free transfers and also have former Manchester United full-back Rafael.

The turning point for the Pantera was the departure of influential manager Luis Castro, who was poached by Saudi Arabian giants Al Nassr during July. Botafogo owner John Textor opted to recruit recently sacked Wolves manager Bruno Lage, however the 47 year old only lasted four months at the Estadio Nilton Santos stadium averaging 1.6 points per game.

The Rio De Janeiro outfit have subsequently gone on an agonising run of two wins in their last 19 games to throw away their surprising lead at the top of the championship, during this time their title rivals have only strengthened their squads and form.

Reigning champions Palmeiras have gone on a run of eight wins in their last 10 games under Abel Ferreira, meanwhile Atletico Mineirão have experienced veteran Luiz Felipe Scolari at the helm and Flamengo have signed former Brazil manager Tite.


Going into the final judgement day in Serie A : Palmeiras, Atletico Mineirão and Flamengo can all still claim the title while only seven points separate first from seventh.

Botafogo have five consecutive draws in their last five games and sit in fifth on 64 points, just five points off the top spot.

Unfortunatley, they have been culpable for their own downfall on November 2 they were 3-0 up at half-time against 10 time champions Palmeiras and yet capitulated in the final moments of the game, conceding in the 90th and 99th minute to lose 4-3.

Against Gremio seven days later, they lead 3-1 in the 50th minute but scummed to a 19 minute Luis Suarez hat-trick to lose the game 4-3 yet again. 

One of the key reasons for this monumental collapse is the overloaded schedule in Brazil with teams having to play up to 70 games in a calendar year travelling long distances and facing each other every three days.

In addition, Botafogo arguably had a very straightforward start to the season with easier opponents whereas in the business end of the season all the big six teams were soley focusing on the league and had bolstered their squads after juggling different competitions at the start of the campaign.

It meant the underdogs were always overwhelmed with the pressure of maintaining their sizeable lead and this psychological hardship of being closed by the chasing pack has appeared to distract Botafogo and affect their season.


After the capitulation against Palmeiras Botafogo owner John Textor who also owns Crystal Palace and Lyon publicly condemned the Brazilian Federation accusing them of corruption.

He stated; "Please find me Ednaldo, you need to resign tomorrow morning"

"This championship is a joke. Nobody deserves this, Palmeiras don't want to win this way, we don't want to lose this way"

All of this off field controversy and on field drama has created one of the most entertaining title races in Brazilian history with it all leading up to the final day on Thursday 7th November.

Botafogo face Internacional while, probable winners Palmeiras face an away trip to Cruzeiro. 

It's represents possibly one of the greatest choke stories in football history, for one of Brazil's most famous clubs notorious for producing some of the countries greatest ever players such as Garrincha, Jairzinho and Didi.

Brace yourself for an action-packed ending with Luis Suarez playing his final game at Gremio, Vitor Roque waving goodbye to Atletico Paranaese and the possibility of one of three clubs lifting the title. 

Written by - Lewis Eadie

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