When you think of the parade of the major Rio samba schools you have to remember that they are supported with all the passion and fervour of a football team. Cariocas, as the residents are known, are very loyal to their favourite schools, but equally appreciate when any other of the top 12 "premiership" schools put on a good performance. One of the oldest and most traditional schools, Mangueira, was founded back in 1928 and by default is often everyone's second famous school. Certainly of the first night of the parades in Rio, you could feel the 70,000 plus crowd willing them on as they told the story of Brazilian popular celebration. They started brilliantly, but then did not quite deliver in the following hour. That was the story for the other five schools parading Sunday night in to Monday. So all were good, but nobody left the Avenida to the cries of "champion". So with half the schools gone, those parading Monday into Tuesday know it is all to play for, a bit like the the English Premiership. This carnival title will go down to the wire. Stay tuned, Las Iguanas will be back on the Avenida tonight fuelled by a couple of caipirinhas and a few ice cold beers.


The race went down to the line and proved that last is not always least, as the very last school to parade in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Unidos da Tijuca, emerged as the official winner of the Rio samba school parades. And it was close, with Tijuca scoring 299.4 against Salgueiro with 299.3 in second. Salgueiro had been chosen top school, by Rio's Main newspaper, O Globo. Portela with 299.0 was third, and Ilha do Governador with 298.4 in fourth. Tijuca, which most recently won the carnival crown in 2010 and 2012 (and before that all the way back in 1936!) had chosen a theme based around the life and time of Formula One great Ayrton Senna as its theme. The choice marked the 20th anniversary of the driver's tragic death. It was a fitting tribute to Senna, who was often seen at the carnival parade when his schedule would allow. So another great -and very hot and sunny - carnival starts to wind to a close in Rio de Janeiro, but the top schools will all be back on the Avenida at the weekend to take a bow during the winners' parade. We will drink to that and see you at the games, either in Brazil or your nearest Las Iguanas!

Chris Pickard @criticaldivide