Although Brazilian football teams are on vacation, the sport is still played in the country. Today, the São Paulo Youth Cup kicks off the football calendar in 2017. It is the most traditional Under-20 tournament in Brazil, responsible for presenting Neymar and Gabriel Jesus to the world.
The 48th edition of the São Paulo Youth Cup will include 120 teams from across Brazil, a record. For the second straight year, the São Paulo Football Federation has invited a foreign club: the Black Pearls Academy, from Haiti.
In the first stage, they play in groups of four teams, and 60 teams advance to the knockout stage. The final takes place on January 25, the foundation date of the city of São Paulo.
The tournament starts today with two games: Ferroviária vs. Vila Nova (6:45 pm Brazilian time), and Palmeiras vs. Paranoá (9 pm Brazilian time).
Chasing its first title
Brazil’s reigning national champion, Palmeiras, has never won the São Paulo Youth Cup. Worse: it is the only one of the four big São Paulo clubs never to have hoisted the trophy. Palmeiras went to the final match twice, losing both times. Meanwhile, arch-rivals Corinthians have won a record of nine cups.
To end the negative streak, Palmeiras relies upon a renovated squad. The biggest promise of the team is midfielder Alan Guimarães, 16, who has already been selected to all categories of Brazil’s national team’s youth squads.f
Corinthians, on the other hand, doesn’t bring many changes from 2016. The most popular club in São Paulo has gone to the final over the last three years, winning in 2015.
From Neymar to Gabriel Jesus
Many Brazilian football stars have launched their careers at the São Paulo Youth Cup. Neymar, who now shines at Barcelona FC, played the tournament in 2009 for Santos. At only 15, Neymar scored one goal in his first official competition for Santos. Seven years later, he has become the most talented Brazilian player of his generation.
Last year, Gabriel Jesus shone in the youth tournament. Over the following year, he established himself as a starter for Palmeiras. Last year, he won the national title with Palmeiras and was the team’s top scorer. Currently on vacation, Gabriel Jesus will join Manchester City in February. Talk about a meteoric rise...
Other notable names who launched their careers playing the São Paulo Youth Cup include Kaká, the former Milan and Real Madrid player, Oscar, formerly at Chelsea, and Fred, who played in the 2010 and 2014 World Cup for Brazil.
Who will be the next star in the making?