Why the lack of surprise in the Campeonato Carioca continues to surprise me, I don’t know. In the last 40 years, only four times has the vice-campeão (runner-up) not been one of
Rio’s big 4 (Vasco, Botafogo, Fluminese, Flamengo). Only three times since the era of full-professionalism began in 1933 have one of the Big 4 failed to win the tournament. This year, only Vasco da Gama managed some drama by losing three games. But today they beat Duque de Caxias 4-3 to set up what should be an angry semi-final against Flamengo. Botafogo and Fluminese will fight for the other spot in the Taça Rio final. Should Botafogo win the Taça Rio, they will be overall champions because they won the Taça Guanabara (first round title). If they lose in the semi-final or final of the Taça Rio, they will play two legs against the Taça Rio winner.
The semi-final games should be played in the Maracanã, now that the State Football Federation has sat down with the city government and the clubs to figure out how, exactly, those turnstiles operate. Oddly enough, when the Maracanã’s capacity was 179,000, it functioned much more smoothly than at its current capacity of 86,900.
In related news, the Maracanã construction project for the 2014 World Cup officially began last month! A team of geologists dug some holes on either side of the stadium to test the sub-soil, thus satisfying FIFA’s demand that construction begin in March. I’m going to find those holes! Stay tuned.