Cruz-ing through Brazil: A Rags to Riches Story Jul 12, 2019 18:00:34 GMT
Post by Nick on Jul 12, 2019 18:00:34 GMT
The name's Cruz. Santa Cruz. I can't remember the last time I managed in Brazil, let alone down in the third division. So often my 'go to' South American nation, more recently I've been found in Peru with Alianza Lima and Colombia with Envigado. Back 'home' for this save though, albeit a few levels below where I'm used to.
Santa Cruz are one of many clubs located in the North East of Brazil. More specifically, the state of Pernambuco and the capital city, Recife.
As recently as 2016 the club was playing in the Brasileirao Serie A - the top league in Brazil - but it's been a rancid couple of years and back-to-back relegation means it's a Serie C start for me. Of course, this is Brazil, so we have a few other competitions to play in, including the State Championship, so I'll run through them quickly and also outline the board's expectations in each of them.
The crème de la crème of our season. This is the competition that will decide whether we go up or down and, ultimately, this is the competition that will cost me my job if we don't perform. Serie A and Serie B follow the familiar round robin format with 20 teams. Serie C is less familiar. Two groups of 10 where we play each other twice. The bottom two from each group are relegated, while the top four qualify for the second stage quarter final. If you win your quarter final, you're promoted. You then play a semi final and a final to determine the champion.
Last season the club managed to get into the quarter final second stage, but no further. Curiously, this year, the board want us to "avoid a relegation battle".
Pernambuco State Championship
If the Serie C is the main course, the State Championship is the entrée. There are ten teams in our state and we only play each other once. The top eight qualify for the quarter final, while the bottom team is relegated. This is where Brazilian football gets a bit confusing because not all the state championships have the same format, so I'm not sure where that bottom team is relegated to, or who replaces them and why.
We've got a fair amount of pedegree in this competition though, winning it five times in six from 2011 to 2016. Looking around, we have Serie A side, Sport Recife, to play so they will be obvious favourites from the off.
The board want us to reach the third place playoff, which means top eight and winning our quarter final. Doable.
Copa do Nordeste
A domestic cup, but not THE domestic cup. This one is just for the North East based clubs. Two groups of eight, but it's one of those weird ones where you play everyone in the other group (so eight matches). We then have a one-legged quarter and semi, but a two-legged final. We've only won this once, in 2016, but there are some decent teams in here. Bahia, Sport Recife and Vitoria are the bigger players.
The board only ask that we "don't be outclassed", whatever that means.
Copa do Brasil
The national cup. The proper one. The one with all the teams in Brazil.
The first and second round are only one leg. From the third round onward it's two legs. They love games in Brazil.
Prize money is decent and the winner qualifies for the Copa Libertadores. The board want us to reach the second round.
That'll do for now. I've played just over half the season, so will probably wait until the end before updating further.