The Brazilian state championships are a source of unique excitement. While more coveted prizes are on offer to the country's elite in the Brasileiro, the Copa Libertadores and potentially the FIFA Club World Cup, the long-standing estaduais give clubs the chance to rule the regional roost, fans the chance to claim the local bragging rights and neutrals the opportunity to cheer on Davids against Goliaths.
This year, a giant emerged triumphant in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais and Pernambucano, but an underdog did provoke a huge upset in Parana when a majority of the state championships reached their conclusions at the weekend. FIFA.com takes a look at an intriguing opening to the Brazilian season.
Era Pele feat
For the majority of the campaign, the Paulistao title fight was considered a head-to-head battle between Santos and Sao Paulo, who both advanced to the semi-finals with just one defeat to their name. But unfancied Sao Caetano dumped the latter out at the last four stage and then threatened to continue their giant killing in the final, before a second leg fightback by Santos denied them.
Trailing to a lone goal from Somalia, who finished as the tournament's 13-goal top scorer, O Peixe eked out the necessary 2-0 victory, a Moraes header nine minutes from time securing an addition to the Vila Belmiro trophy cabinet. Moreover, it was the first time Santos had successfully defended the state championship title since Era Pele, an achievement that owed much to the contributions of the infallible Ze Roberto and left-wingback Kleber.
Gremio were also left celebrating a second consecutive state crown, although they made lighter work of an underdog to claim the honours in Rio Grande do Sul, Juventude falling victim to a 4-1 scoreline after their first encounter had ended 3-3. The success of O Tricolor Gaucho, though, was undoubtedly facilitated by the failure of FIFA Club World Cup champions Internacional to reach the last six.
Derby deciders gloss triumphs
For Flamengo and Atletico-MG, their conquests came with one distinct bonus - overcoming a fierce rival in the final. The 1981 world club champions triumphed over Botafogo, although it took a penalty shootout, the first in the long existence of the Campeonato Carioca's deciding match, to end the dream of O Fogão.
Minus the presence of their talismanic goal-getter Obina and Juninho Paulista, who had his contract rescinded by the club on the eve of the final, Flamengo goalkeeper Bruno cemented his reputation as one of Brazil's finest goalkeepers. After the two sides had shared eight goals over 180 minutes, he repelled Botafogo's first two spot-kicks to thrust the Rubro-Negro to a 4-2 shootout victory; one which served to satisfy the country's most immense following.
Atletico-MG effectively secured Campeonato Mineiro gold during the first bisection of their tussle with arch-rivals Cruzeiro, a 4-0 win leaving them on the cusp of a 39th state crown. The Wellington-inspired Raposa did give it their all in the second leg, and although a 2-0 success was insufficient to prevent O Galo commemorating their first regional title since 2000, it did serve to equal the derby stats in Era Mineirao. Indeed, the two sides have now won 71 of 211 games apiece in the heralded stadium and, moreover, have netted 231 goals each in these contests.
Paranavai fly the underdogs' flag
While the 'big four' estaduais crowned a heavyweight champion, Paranavai provided a major upset in the Campeonato Paranaense. O Vermelinho managed just one win from six outings in their four-team second round pool, but they edged Rio Branco-PR for a place in the concluding phase, where they upset traditional power Coritiba for a place in the final.
Parana, in the last 16 of the Copa Libertadores, were the overwhelming favourites going into the contest, but they failed to breach Paranavai keeper Vanderlei over two legs and Tales' solitary goal proved enough to bank the minnows their first state title.
Elsewhere, Sport cruised to their second successive Campeonato
Pernambucano prize, although, after 16 victories and one draw, they
were denied an unbeaten record at the last by arch-rivals Santa
Cruz, whose 1-0 win provided minor consolation for a disappointing
2007 Brazilian state champions;
Campeonato Alagoano - Coruripe
Campeonato Baiano - Vitoria
Campeonato Capixaba - Linhares
Campeonato Carioca - Flamengo
Campeonato Catarinense - Chapecoense
Campeonato Cearense - Fortaleza
Campeonato Goiano - Atletico-GO
Campeonato Gaucho - Gremio
Campeonato Metropolitano - Brasiliense
Campeonato Mineiro - Atletico-MG
Campeonato Paraense - Remo
Campeonato Paranaense - Paranavai
Campeonato Paulista - Santos
Campeonato Pernambucano - Sport
Campeonato Potiguar - ABC
Campeonato Sergipano - America-SE