The 2022 Paulista Championship started last Sunday (23) with Palmeiras’ 2-0 victory over Novorizontino, in Novo Horizonte, in an early match for the 5th round, as Verdão is in the FIFA Club World Cup in beginning of February. And this Tuesday (25), the competition will feature the games of the 1st round, in its ‘official’ debut.
With 16 participants divided into four groups, Paulistão will continue with the same dispute formula since 2014, with the first two of each group advancing to the quarterfinals. After that, the winners play in the knockout system until the final, which will be played on April 3rd.
As the Estado de São Paulo starts before the group stage disputes of the Copa Libertadores (April 6), the Brasileirão (April 10) and the 3rd stage of the Copa do Brasil, where the main clubs enter (April 20), we should have this year the clubs’ maximum strength in a good part of the competition, especially without its final stretch.
Palmeiras, which started the championship with a win and still have three games to go before the trip to the FIFA Club World Cup, in the United Arab Emirates (plays on February 8th and 12th), should put their starting team on the field to win rhythm. On the way back, there will only be the final of the Recopa Sul-Americana against Athletico-PR (on 2/23 and 3/3) between the Paulistão dispute.
For Corinthians and Bragantino, until the beginning of the Brasileirão, Paulistão will be the only championship in dispute. Santos and São Paulo will have unique games in the first two stages of the Copa do Brasil. But they also won’t interfere with the teams’ plans at the State.
In this scenario, in which the teams should play with maximum force and without disputing other important championships at the same time, Palmeiras is the favorite. Current two-time champion of Libertadores, 3rd in the last Brasileirão and runner-up in the State, Abel Ferreira’s team kept practically its entire squad and even reinforced itself with good pieces, such as defender Murilo, midfielders Jaílson and Atuesta, striker Rafael Navarro and goalkeeper Marcelo Lomba.
Team that comes with a great chemistry in these last two seasons and with a pattern well defined by coach Abel Ferreira, Palmeiras starts 2022 with a squad well above the rivals. Corinthians, with the arrival of Paulinho, comes with a strong team, full of former national team players, such as Cássio, Fágner, Gil, Fábio Santos, Renato Augusto, Willian, Giuliano and Jô, but all of them are advanced in age. In addition, there is a coach who has not yet managed to please and make the team perform as expected by the fans. But for the quality of the cast, it appears as the second main candidate for the title.
Santos and São Paulo, who had bad campaigns in the last Brasileirão, started the year behind their rivals. Peixe, which kept coach Fábio Carille, started the year in a slightly more delicate situation, as it was not able to strengthen itself so much (Ricardo Goulart was the only big name) and lost some pieces such as Pará, Jean Mota, Raniel, Wagner Leonardo, Jandrei, Diego Tardelli and runs the risk of being without Marinho.
São Paulo, owned by Rogério Ceni, brought in rounded players, such as Nikão, Rafinha, Alisson, Jandrei and Patrick. On the other hand, he lost Orejuela, Bruno Alves, Liziero, Benítez, among those who played the most, in addition to Pablo, who should be traded. Rogério Ceni will have the job of practically putting together a new team and trying to get it back after the bad second half of 2021.
It is worth remembering that Bragantino, finalist of the 2021 Copa Sudamericana and 6th place in the last Brasileirão, runs out of this dispute.
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