It’s a funny old game. After outplaying Grêmio’s full strength team during the week, Flamengo were beaten by Grêmio’s reserve team last night.
Flamengo blew the chance to extend their lead at the top of the Serie A last night after losing to Grêmio’s reserve side. The two teams had met in the same stadium just three days earlier in the Brazilian Cup quarter final first leg. Unlike Grêmio though, Flamengo chose to play a near full strength team, and they were beaten.
I don’t like how Grêmio’s coach prioritises the cup competitions and occassionally fields complete reserve teams in the league. He did that last weekend against relegation threatened Chapecoense and Grêmio only managed a draw. And with last night’s game against Flamengo sandwiched inbetween the Brazilian Cup quarter final and a trip to La Plata to play Estudiantes in the Copa Libertadores on Tuesday, he fielded a reserve team again. Even their goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe was rested!
I don’t think you can attribute Grêmio’s win last night to the coaches squad rotation. People will say that Flamengo’s first team was too tired and that was the reason for their loss, but I don’t think that is the case either. Flamengo simply had an off day and Grêmio adapted their tactics to ruffle up and unsettle their opponents. You might say that Flamengo are better against good footballing team (like Grêmio’s first XI) and not as good against hard, working, in-your-face, but technically inferior opposition (Grêmio’s second XI).
What this means though is that São Paulo have a chance to move top of the log this evening when they play Vasco, at home. On paper that looks like an easily winnable game. Although São Paulo, you could also argue play better against better opposition, albeit for different reasons than Flamengo.
São Paulo had been on a miserable run of form for the last two years before Diego Aguirre took over earlier this year. He got rid of the dead wood, started playing players in their correct position and has organised his team into a slick counter attacking force. Diego Souza, initially kept on the bench by Aguirre, has been a revelation up front, evergreen Nenê pulls the strings behind him, while the signings of Everton and Joao Rojas have added pace and dynamism to the wings. Will they be able to break down Vasco at home? We shall find out between 8pm and 10pm UK time this evening. Stay tuned.
Elsewhere yesterday, Botafogo and Santos played out a 0-0 draw in Rio, although that match was overshadowed by some ridiculous refereeing: Botafogo score a good goal, but it is incorrectly ruled out for offside (since the offside player doesn’t interfere with play). The ref gives the goal. Then overturns the goal for offside. Then gives goal. Then overturns that and gives offside. Farce. Corinthians and Atletico Paranaense also played out a boring 0-0 draw. After notching six goals in the three games, Angel Romero surprisingly didn’t score for Corinthians.
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