Corinthians disappoint after good start to 2013

Thu Nov 7, 2013 10:35am EST
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By Andrew Downie

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The loss of key players, injuries, fan violence - whatever the reason for their decline, Corinthians have come down to earth with a bump since winning the Copa Libertadores and the Club World Cup for the first time.

The Sao Paulo side sit 12th in Serie A and appear destined for a mid-table finish, missing out on a Libertadores spot for next year.

That would be a major disappointment for a team who won the Sao Paulo state championship in May, the South American Supercup in July and were touted as one of the favorites for the Serie A title.

"We haven't been able to get going and show what we're capable of," goalkeeper Cassio said on television recently. "There are times like now when the ball just doesn't cross the line, before it would be in the back of the net. It's not been a great spell."

Corinthians pride themselves on being one of Brazil's two best-supported clubs, alongside Flamengo of Rio de Janeiro, but although they have five league titles and three Brazilian Cups they were not well known outside Brazil until last year's Libertadores and Club World Cup wins.

Those victories, followed by a South American Supercup triumph in July, appeared to set the stage for further glories but the decline in the second half of 2013 has been swift.

They have lost important players to transfers and injury, while other teams have raised their game against the world champions. They have also been forced to play several home games outside Sao Paulo as a punishment for hooliganism and uncertainty has clouded the future of manager Tite.

Corinthians have always been a team built on guts and teamwork rather than flair or individual brilliance and the goals for and against columns this year illustrate their strengths and weaknesses.   Continued...