Rivals Botafogo gift Vasco chance to return top of the pile

Diego Souza is wary of Atlético-PR threat

WITH just ten games remaining in the Campeonato Brasileiro, Vasco are hopeful of regaining first place from Corinthians – thanks to neighbouring rivals Botafogo.

Despite being overtaken at the top of the table last weekend following their surprise 3-0 defeat at the hands of Internacional, Vasco have been gifted an immediate chance to regain top spot after Botafogo defeated leader’s Corinthians on Wednesday.

Vasco are serious contenders to win their first league title in eleven years but face fierce competition for the 2011 Brasileirão crown, with just three points separating the top five sides.

On Thursday night, Vasco travel to Atlético Paranaense, a side fiercely fighting against relegation.

Diego Souza, one of the catalysts behind Vasco’s successful campaign this year, expects the Cruzmaltino to come out fighting against the Brasileirão strugglers:

“The team knows how it must play away from home. It will be a war! We are all aware that the game against Internacional was not a true reference. We must keep the momentum, our consistency has always been very good – we have to find points both home and away.”

The former Atlético-MG and Palmeiras man believes that Atlético-PR will provide a far sterner test than Vasco’s last outing at the Arena da Baixada, which ended in a 2-2 draw, in the Copa do Brasil:

“I expect it to be much more difficult. That was the Copa do Brasil, now the squad is being pushed (for results) and they are under pressure.”

Vasco’s current circumstances seem light years away from events just two years ago, when the club were fighting to secure promotion from the Brazilian second division (Série B) to the Campeonato Brasileiro.

2011 has proved to be a far less turbulent year. Vasco are already assured of a place in next year’s Copa Libertadores after winning the Copa do Brasil earlier this year, and used their cup success as a platform to launch their title aspirations – bucking a trend so often seen in Brazilian football, where clubs who win mid-season titles tend to falter in the gruelling domestic championship.

If Vasco were to be successful in their attempt to win this year’s championship, they will become only the second club in Brazilian football to win the domestic league and cup double, replicating Cruzeiro’s success in 2003. But as so often witnessed in the Campeonato Brasileiro, expect the unexpected.

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