Atlético Mineiro, led by the incombustible forward Hulk and with good contributions from the Argentine Nacho Fernández and the Chilean Eduardo Vargas, was proclaimed champion of the 2021 Brazilian League this Thursday, after coming back from 2-0 against and winning 3- 2 to Bahia, at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador.
The Belo Horizonte team conquers, under the command of coach Alexi Stival ‘Cuca’, with whom he already won a Libertadores in 2013, the second Brazilian Championship in its history two days in advance and breaks a 50-year drought.
Hulk, from a penalty, and Keno, twice, traced back in five minutes of the second half the two goals that had been scored almost consecutively shortly before by the Steel Tricolor, which was complicated by its permanence in the First Division.
The Albinegro team took advantage of their first “championship ball” with a relentless reaction that left the goals of Luiz Otávio and Gilberto to nothing in the 61st and 65th minutes, respectively.
The Hulk started the comeback road in 72 and Keno finished it in 73 and 77. Five glorious minutes to seal the title.
The roosters did not win a league since 1971. At that time in Brazil the military dictatorship reigned (1964-1985) and Edson Arantes do Nascimento ‘Pelé’ still played for Santos.
Mineiro has secured the regularity tournament with 81 points and a balance of 25 wins, 6 draws and 5 losses in the 36 games it has played to date.
Nobody can reach him in the two remaining days. Neither Flamengo, champion in 2019 and 2020, and who is second, with 70 points and one game less; nor Palmeiras, brand new two-time Libertadores champion and third with 62 points; far from Corinthians, fourth with 56.
After an irregular start, the Albinegro team assumed the lead on the fifteenth day and did not release it until they were proclaimed champion.
The team, which last year already pointed ways with the Argentine Jorge Sampaoli on the bench, has managed to combine a solid defense – it is the least beaten, with just 27 goals – and a deadly attack (60) only surpassed, so far, by Flamengo (68).
In defense, wingers Mariano and Guilherme Arana, old acquaintances of Spanish Sevilla, have been fundamental, as well as centrals Nathan Silva and Paraguayan Júnior Alonso.
In attack, Givanildo Vieira de Sousa, better known as the Hulk, has excelled above all.
On his return to Brazilian football after passing through China (Shanghai SIPG), Russia (Zenit) and Portugal (Porto), the prodigious forward has burst the nets at 35 and is on his way to becoming the top scorer in the championship. He has been 18 and still has two games left to continue adding.
Since August, he was accompanied on the job by the Spanish-Brazilian Diego Costa -now sanctioned-, who, after more than half a year without a club after terminating his contract with Atlético de Madrid in December 2020, was integrated to perfection and curdled at the wonderfully with the Hulk.
The Chilean Eduardo Vargas and the Brazilian Keno have also contributed their grain of sand, as well as the Colombian Dylan Borrero and the Venezuelan Jefferson Savarino.
In the creation area, the Argentines Nacho Fernández, former River Plate player, and Matías Zaracho have stood out.
Atlético Mineiro, who was defeated in the Libertadores semi-finals against Palmeiras, ultimately champion, can still add one more title this season, as this month he will play the final of the Brazil Cup against Athletico Paranaense.