The Big Four of Rio de Janeiro

These four teams in Rio de Janeiro have a great history, in both the Brasileirao and the Campeonato Carioca.
The Big Four of Rio de Janeiro

Last update: 26 June, 2020

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most soccer-loving cities in the world and home to several important teams. But none are quite like the “big four of Rio de Janeiro". Read on to find out who they are and just why they"re so important.

The Campeonato Carioca

The Campeonato Carioca, better known as the Rio de Janeiro State Championship, is the soccer league of the state of Rio de Janeiro and the most competitive in all of Brazil.

The league was created in 1906 and currently features 16 teams. The Campeonato Carioca is also famous for featuring the so-called big four: Flamengo, Fluminense, Vasco da Gama, and Botafogo.

Between them, these four teams have won 111 of the 122 titles contested so far, as well as the vast majority of other competitions. Furthermore, these teams have always had the top scorers (including the legendary Zico and Romário) and attract millions of people to their matches every weekend.

The big four of Rio de Janeiro

These teams are easily the most important soccer teams in Rio de Janeiro, and although we could possibly add a fifth (América Football Club), there"s a big difference in terms of the number of titles won. So, let"s take a look at the history of each one:

1. Flamengo

Their official name is Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, although everyone knows them as ‘Flamengo" or simply ‘Fla". The club was founded in 1895, and the team plays in black and red horizontal stripes. They play their home games at the legendary Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro.

Flamengo has won the treble on five occasions and is one of only three teams to feature in every season of the Brazilian Serie A Championship (Brasileirao).

A Flamengo player.

Furthermore, along with Botafogo, they have the record for the longest unbeaten run (52 games, in 1979). Their record scorer is Zico, with 476 goals in 18 seasons.

Flamengo has won the Rio de Janeiro championship 35 times, winning its first in 1914, and finished runner up on 31 occasions. At the international level, they have won an Intercontinental Cup (1981) and two Libertadores (1981 and 2019). They also reached the final of the Club World Cup in 2019, the Copa Sudamericana in 2017, and two Supercopa Americana finals in 1993 and 1995.

2. Fluminense: the big four of Rio de Janeiro

The Fluminense Football Club began in 1902 and has a British name because its founder, Oscar Cox, was Brazilian, with English origins. From the beginning, the club was located in an aristocratic neighborhood called Las Laranjeiras (‘The Orange Trees’) and its first members were the sons of the Rio elite.

Like their classic rival, ‘the Flu" plays their home matches at the Maracanã Stadium. Their shirt is maroon, green and white with vertical stripes, hence their nickname the “tricolor". Their top scorer is Brazilian Waldo Machado, who scored 314 goals in 403 games between 1954 and 1961.

Fluminense (see the image at the top) has won 31 Rio de Janeiro championships and finished runners-up 22 times. In fact, they were the first team to win the championship in 1906. They"ve also won Brazil"s Serie A four times, although so far, they have no international trophies. They have, however, reached the final of the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamericana.

3. Vasco da Gama

Club de Regatas Vasco da Gama is named after the Portuguese sailor who discovered Brazil and was founded in 1898 by a group of rowers. Their shirt is black with a white diagonal stripe and a red cross.

A player for Vasco da Gama, one of the big four of Rio de Janeiro.

Since 1927, they have played their home matches at the Sao Januario Stadium. They also play in one of the most competitive matches in the world, the Clássico dos Milhoes, against Flamengo.

Vasco da Gama have 24 Rio de Janeiro championships and 26 runners-up titles to their name. They"ve also won one Copa Libertadores de América (1998) and five Brazilian Serie A titles.

4. The big four of Rio de Janeiro: Botafogo

This last team on the list also has rowing in its origins. In fact, it was founded in 1894 as a rowing club and merged with soccer in 1942. The ‘Fogao" play in black and white shirts with vertical stripes and their crest is black with a white star in the center.

Two players for Botafogo, one of the big four of Rio de Janeiro.

The derby between Botafogo and Fluminense is considered the oldest derby in Brazilian soccer. Botafogo has won 21 Rio de Janeiro championships, 20 runners-up titles, two Serie A trophies, and one Conmebol Cup.

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