Never thought I'd rue the day that I took my degree in linguistics. Today it's a degree in applied mathematics that would be useful. For starters, in order to win the Brasileirão, Rio's Vasco has to win its game against Rio's Flamengo, but it also has to hope that São Paulo's Palmeiras beats São Paulo's Corinthians in their game. If Flamengo ties the game with Vasco it might get a spot in the Libertadores, a multi-national South American Soccer competition. But if Flamengo wins over Vasco, and Fluminense loses its game against Botafogo, Flamengo gets a guaranteed spot in the Libertadores. And if Flamengo loses, it might still secure a Libertadores spot but only if two of the following teams lose their games: Coritiba, Internacional and Figueirense.
Are you with me?
In order to secure its spot in the Libertadores, Botafogo doesn't just have to win over Fluminense but Coritiba, Figueirense, Internacional and São Paulo all have to lose their games. Fluminense needs a tie to reach the Libertadores, but will also get there if Flamengo loses to Vasco.
There are seven more games today with similar if-only-this-then-that outcomes, but I'm done in. I spoke to a number of Brazilians before the games who, although admitting to the exceptional complexity of the final round, were mildly surprised at my inability to "get it." Maybe you have to have been born here, maybe it has to be in your blood. But whatever my confusion, I'll be watching at 5:00 along with the whole country. By 7:00 it will be history.
* * * * * * * *
I know you're all on the edge of your seats, so here's the skinny: Corinthians won the Brasileirão for the fifth time, and also won a spot in the 2012 Libertadores. Well, I'm pretty sure they did. Vasco, Fluminense and Flamengo all tied their respective games, and I think they have all been classified for the 2012 Libertadores. But whether Botafogo and Palmeiras got into the Sul-Americana, I'm not sure. Maybe. As for Santos, Figueirense, São Paulo ... and, um, Internacional ... wait, wait ... I think Coritiba ... hold on, I have the classification chart right in front of me ...