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Corinthians have gone from also-rans to running away with the title



In June 2016, Corinthians’ two-time Serie A winning manager Adenor Bacchi departed the club after multiple spells to preside over the national team.

And in response to that exit, the club joined the annual managerial merry-go-round of the national league by appointing Oswaldo Oliveira and later Cristovao Borges with little success.

After six months of waiting patiently for results to go their way, the club promoted Fabio Carille as their first team manager. Being a defender during his playing days, Carille gave the team a playing style that well reflected his identity and position on the pitch.

In the Sao Paulo state championship at the start of the year, Corinthians emerged unlikely winners by edging out more talented and expensive squads of Palmeiras and Santos.

Throughout the league, Corinthians conceded a miserly 11 goals over 18 matches, the least of all. Despite clinching the 2017 Campeonato Paulista, Timao failed to impress football pundits and bookmakers alike.

Yes, they are a big name in Brazilian football but there were too many problems inside the club, paying for the new stadium being one of them.

Considering their 7th place finish in the Serie A last year and lack of talented attacking players on the field – apart from Jadson and Jo – Corinthians were not deemed as favourites for the Brasileiro Serie A.

As we arrive in the final third of the league marathon, Corinthians have gone from also-rans to running away with the title. The squad has proved its critics wrong in emphatic fashion but having said that, this is no flash in the pan form.

The club has been tested on several occasions this season with the team coming out on top almost every time but the derby against defending champions Palmeiras was largely viewed as a litmus test.

The Big Greens were trailing Corinthians by five points and a victory would have cut the difference to just two, making the title race tighter in the penultimate stages.

However, at the Arena Corinthians, the home side ran out 3-2 winners with Angel Romero being the star of the match while the unsung hero was defender Fabian Balbuena who did well to keep the opposition at bay.

Balbuena, along with Pablo, has formed a rock solid partnership at the back that has helped Cassio keep 17 clean sheets in the league. The sturdy defense has leaked a mere 23 goals in 33 games in the league.

Those numbers do not mean Timao are simply parking the bus to win points though. Through the fluid 4-2-3-1 system, the team now has the joint third best number of goals scored in the league. Of the 44 goals scored, Jo has netted 16 and been involved in three more.

He is currently the joint top scorer of the league along with Fluminese’s Henrique Dourado and the side has become a pleasure to watch as they attempt intricate through balls and attack from the flanks.

Despite their solid defensive record, Corinthians do boast the third best possession in the league at slightly above 53%. Further, their aim of playing tiki-taka with short passes has made them the team with the best pass success rate in the league at close to 84%.

With an eight-point lead at the top of the table and five matches to go, Corinthians can be champions in their next fixture against Fluminese if other results go their way.

While their impending triumph may not be a shock, Carille has quite surprisingly built a well-oiled machine which has bagged the title in emphatic fashion.