In most countries, local competitions barely have a ripple on the country’s football scene. However, it’s different in Brazil. Brazil’s state competitions put global behemoths in direct competition with small-time local clubs and it’s more than just about bragging rights. That’s because the Copa Brasil – the main domestic cup – only consists of the top two sides from each of these competitions. What that means is that some of Brazil’s biggest teams in Serie A could miss out at the expense of a small Serie D. Across the country, there are 27 separate state leagues but which of these are the most successful and strongest in the country? Here’s our pick of the top 10 state football leagues in Brazil.
The Santa Catarina is a region full of prolific teams although their success levels have fluctuated throughout different decades. The most established teams – Avai and Figeuirense – have traditionally dominated the competition winning 18 titles apiece during their time in Serie A. However, the region has seen more and more teams rise in profile. The likes of Chapecoense, Criciuma and Joinville are all strong sides that can pose a threat to the title making this competition always one to keep an eye on.
There are fewer regions that have a faster rising profile in Brazilian football than the Goias region. The purpose built metropolis of Goiania has seen football sides sprout and grow quickly in the past few decades. It’s now why sides such as Goias and Atletico Goaianense rise to become major sides in the national scene. With other sides such as Vila Nova FC also establishing a presence in Serie B, expect this championship to gain even more fame over the coming years.
One of the core football cities on the east coast, the Campeonato Baiano has thrived in and around Salvador. With the club sporting big sides such as Ceara and Vitoria, it isn’t hard to see why this competition has traditionally been an exciting watch. Yet, changes in the scene has seen sides from across Bahia state slowly enjoy more success. The likes of Aloginhas and Bahia de Feira have started to defeat the big Salvador sides in recent years showing that this state’s scene could about to be transformed in the not too distant future.
Based around the Pernambuco region and in particularly the city of Recife, the Campeonato Pernambucano is always an exciting championship to watch. There’s always no guarantee who could win the championship as the likes of Sport, Nautico and Santa Cruz all have won titles in the past few decades. It guarantees that all matches are competitive affairs with exciting talents trying to breakthrough into international success.
The Ceara region is experiencing a huge boom in football quality and it’s reflected in the quality found in the Campeonato Cearense each year. The region’s two main sides – Ceara and Fortaleza – are bonafide powerhouses in Serie A and generally lockout the final each year – sharing over 40 titles a piece in tournament history. It adds yet another spicy chapter in the rivalry between the two sides and sets the benchmark for others to aim for throughout the region.
It is always hard to tell just which side might get the edge in the Campeonato Paranaense. This lively tournament is always good fun to watch especially with some top sides such as Coritiba and Atletico Paranaense in the mix. You will also see smaller sides spring some occasional upsets as the likes of Cascavel and Londrina have proven in recent years. It all adds up to a lively atmosphere with no result ever guaranteed to be the same.
The name might be misleading, but the Campeonato Gaucho always sees top talents lining to grab bragging rights for their side. This comes as the likes of Gremio, and Internacional always look to get a one-up in their infamous rivalry. Yet the two Porto Alegre giants are not the only sides to watch here. There are some teams such as Juventude and Novo Hamburgo that have the drive to cause upsets which means that the battles between David and Goliath are always fascinating across the Rio de Grande Sul’s top competition.
You always know that the competition will be tough in the Campeonato Mineiro when the region hosts three of Brazil’s most famous sides. When the likes of Cruzeiro, Atletico Mineiro and America Mineiro are all in action, you know sparks are set to fly. It is why Belo Horizonte is one of Brazil’s top footballing cities and that the Campeonato Mineiro is always mixing exciting young talents with some of the biggest names of yesteryear.
Do not let the name fool you, the Campeonato Carioca is one of the biggest competitions in Brazilian football. Covering the who Rio De Janeiro area, you will see some of Brazil most famous sides such as Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco Da Gama all searching for local bragging rights. They must negotiate a host of small clubs eager to claim major scalps and grab their moment in the spotlight. It is why this is always a much watch even if not every match has the same edge as a Fla-Flu derby
Out of all the state leagues, the Campeonato Paulista is by far the toughest test for clubs to overcome. The Sao-Paulo based competition sees the big four powerhouses of Santos, Sao Paulo, Corinthians and Palmeiras all going against each other in battles for regional supremacy. If that’s not all, the rise of sides such as Red Bull Bragantino and Portuguesa show that victory is never a certainty for any side. It’s why this league always has big-names talents emerging from it year after year and that Brazil’s oldest sporting competition is still one of the best anywhere in the world.