There is a simply philosophy in Brazilian football: outscore the opposition. Cruzeiro certainly did in the domestic championship's maiden season under a straight league format in 2003, rippling the back of opponents' nets 102 times in 46 games en route to the trophy, and Santos netted 103 goals to succeed them on top of the podium.
Even in December 2005, Corinthians' conquest of the Brasileiro was indebted to their attacking talents, led by current Manchester United star Carlos Tevez. That was when Sao Paulo began to explore a different avenue of achieving success.
Last season, the Tricolor Paulista ran way with the crown thanks largely to their ability to stop their opponents from scoring, becoming the first title-winning side under the revamped system to finish the campaign with less goals conceded than matches played (32 in 38 games).
Never has their defensive impregnability been more in evidence than this term, however. Nine points clear atop of the standings, Sao Paulo have leaked just seven goals in 25 outings; an astounding statistic in the free-scoring world of the Brasileiro, highlighted by the fact that runners-up Cruzeiro have conceded 42 goals in as many contests.
Rogerio eyes another record
The man who opposing teams are struggling to find a way past is Rogerio Ceni, ironically a player more renowned for his goalscoring abilities. But if anyone wasstill ignorant to the world's most prolific keeper's ability with his hands going into 2007, then they are now fully aware that there is much more to his game than set piece wizardry.
Brave, a sharp decision-maker and superb shot-stopper, the 34-year-old has been virtually unbeatable since Sao Paulo kicked off the defence of their crown with a 2-0 win over Goias in May. And after keeping another shutout to facilitate his side's away win over high-flying Vasco on Saturday, Rogerio Ceni completed 898 minutes without conceding a goal in the Brasileiro, a sequence that has also helped Sao Paulo extend their undefeated record to 13 games.
On a personal level, it took the loyal custodian to within 234 minutes of adding another record to his proud collection, which also includes being the world's 76-goal highest scoring goalkeeper in history and Sao Paulo's all-time leading appearant. The landmark in sight belongs to Jairo, who went 1,132 minutes without being beaten for Corinthians in the 1978 Brasileiro.
In a testament to Rogerio Ceni's popularity, the owner of the milestone is hoping to see his accomplishment surpassed. "I'm a fan of Rogerio," said Jairo to Globo's official website. "He's the best goalkeeper currently in Brazilian football and it would be great if he could reach this mark. Records were made to be broken."
Rogerio's charge towards Jairo's statistic has been undoubtedly aided by his team-mates. Defenders Breno, Mirando and Andre Dias are in rich veins of form, while wing-backs Souza and Jorge Wagner have also made valuable contributions. Collectively, they will be striving to keep third-placed Santos keep Santos at bay in their clássico at the Morumbi on Sunday. Victory would move Vanderlei Luxemburgo's team to within nine points of the pace, while defeat would effectively extinguish their title aspirations.
A potential return to Brazil squad, whom he represented at the 2006 FIFA World Cup™, is also a subject of hot debate. Sao Paulo coach Muricy Ramalho believes his trusted No1 warrants his place in the Seleção, but Dunga is concerned about selecting a player who has hinted that he will be watching South Africa 2010 in the comfort of retirement. "Rogerio is a great goalkeeper and nobody is out of the reckoning, but I'm preparing a squad for 2010," he explained.
Another clean sheet against Santos would add fuel to the clamour for his international recall.