Image: Corinthians' Archive
"THE MOST BRAZILIAN CLUB" - If today Corinthians can say that it is seven times Brazilian champion, greatest winner of the 1990s and the greatest national champion of the 2000s, it was all due to one of the most glorious seasons in the history of Timão, which celebrates 30 years in 2020. The team that played in the 1990 season had a difficult start but exceeded their own expectations and was close to win two titles, taking one of them - the first Brazilian Championship in club’s history.
At the time, the last title that Corinthians had won was the 1988 Paulista Championship. The team that kicked off the first game of the year, against Noroeste, January 1990, was already quite different from the one that became champion against Guarani: Ronaldo Giovanelli, Marcelo Djian, Marcio Bittencourt and Viola were the only ones left.
PAULISTÃO: almost reached the final
The debut on that season was not the best: defeat 1-0 in Bauru. But Timão didn’t know that this would be the only defeat until the end of that tournament. In the first phase of that State Championship, the team achieved 11 wins and 11 draws in the following games, with 21 goals scored and only seven conceded, leading Group 1 with 33 points, two more than the second placed.
Then, in the second phase, new groups were formed and Timão, who was part of the Black Group, went on without losing. However, in twelve games there were five wins and seven draws. With this campaign, Corinthians was placed second in his group - with 17 points, one less than Bragantino, who went to the final against the leader of the Red Group, Novorizontino.
“BRASILEIRÃO” - Tough start
With the end of the State Championship, Corinthians debuted in the Brasileirão three days later, on August 19. Away from home, Timão faced Grêmio with Zé Maria on the bench, and was defeated. In a bad phase after finishing “Paulistão”, the first victory in the tournament would come only in the fourth round, in a derby against Palmeiras, winning 2-1 with goals scored by Neto and Wilson Mano.
With Nelsinho Baptista as Corinthians coach, the derby victory gave life to Timão: a series of eight games without defeats - six wins and two draws (against São Paulo and Bragantino). This start, however, was followed by an uncomfortable sequence with no goals scored: four draws and one defeat.
THE DINEI FACTOR
The lack of goals kept Timão out of the fight for a place in the second phase of the National Championship. To solve the problem after the fifth game without swinging the net - the tie with Vasco by 0-0 - Nelsinho decided to look for the U20 team. He promoted a training game with the youth team and saw a striker stand out with goals: Dinei. And decided to call him to training session in the first team aiming at the classic match that was to come, against Santos - next round of the “Brasileirão”.
Dinei, son of a former Corinthians player and at the youth teams of the club since he was 11 years old, on his first game scored the goal of the 1-0 victory and put an end to Timão's series without goals.
AFTER DIFFICULTIES, NETO LEADS FOR THE TITLE
Once again, a classic match brought a new life for Timão: after another bad result against Goiás, two victories against Atlético-MG and Internacional guaranteed Corinthians the playoffs phase. The Atlético-MG would be the opponent in the quarterfinals, with a team growing at the competition.
In the beginning of the playoffs, one name would shine on the competition: Neto. The midfielder started to pull the team with his usual technique and, with two goals, commanded the victory by 2 to 1 in the first game in Pacaembu. On the return, it was enough to hold the 0-0 draw at Mineirão and advance to the semifinal.
Corinthians had gained such strength and regularity! Semifinals - Bahia. Again at Pacaembu, Timão won 2-1, this time with an own goal and another from Neto, always him. And in the return match, at the Fonte Nova stadium, a new 0-0 draw qualified the Alvinegros for the final.
ONE VERSATILE PLAYER AND THE “TALISMAN” GUARANTEE FIRST BRAZILIAN TITLEAt the final, Coringão would have a classic game against a state rival: São Paulo. Both games were at the Morumbi stadium. In the first match, as a visitor, Nelsinho Baptista took a team to the field with Ronaldo; Giba, Marcelo Djian, Guinei and Jacenir; Marcio Bittencourt, Wilson Mano, Tupãzinho and Neto; Fabinho and Mauro - Marcos Roberto would still enter in the second half. A team already quite different from the one that had started the season.
Getting better every game, Timão soon showed for what he came for: at minute 4, following a Neto cross, the versatile Wilson Mano completes for the goal with his knee. Wilson Mano, who played at the time as a midfielder, also played in the club as a defender and left back, was responsible for giving the team the advantage in the first game, which took place on December 13 of that year.
In the second match, played December 16, Nelsinho repeated the starting lineup that led to the first game. And on the pitch, a game as difficult as the previous one. In the first half, no goals draw on the scoreboard. At the beginning of the second half, it would be up to Tupãzinho, Fiel's first “Talisman”, to fight for an almost lost ball inside the area, push into the nets and expand the Corinthians advantage.
With 2-0 on the aggregate score, Nelsinho put Ezequiel in place of Neto, and Paulo Sérgio in place of Mauro. Timão continued to control the game in defense, he did not concede goals and, with the final whistle given by Edmundo Lima Filho, Corinthians raised the Brazilian Championship trophy for the first time in 1990.
31 wins, 30 draws and just 8 defeats, Corinthians of Ronaldo, Neto, Wilson Mano, Tupãzinho, Basílio, Zé Maria and Nelsinho Baptista would live an historical season. And it would be a starting point for the other six Brazilian titles, in 1998, 1999, 2005, 2011, 2015 and 2017.