It has been a long time since a team has dominated the league in the same way that Flamengo have done this year; they finished 16 points ahead of their nearest rival and played some fantastic football along the way.
At a glitzy ceremony organised by the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) on Monday night, Flamengo’s players dominated the team of the year selection. An incredible NINE of their players were named in the team of the year. Athletico Paranaense made up the numbers and two of their players were named in the best XI. Bruno Henrique, won player of the year and Michael, of Goias, won revelation of 2019.
Official team of the year: Santos (Athletico-PR), Rafinha (Flamengo), Rodrigo Caio (Flamengo), Pablo Mari (Flamengo), Felipe Luis (Flamengo), Gerson (Flamengo), Bruno Guimaraes (Athletico-PR), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo), Arrascaeta (Flamengo), Bruno Henrique (Flamengo), Gabigol (Flamengo).
See below for Brazilfooty’s team of the year:
GK – Santos (Athletico-PR); 29 years; 28 games 0 goals
The obvious choice would be to plump for Diego Alves of Flamengo. But frankly, he hasn’t had much to do. Santos, meanwhile, has been solid for Athletico for several seasons and his good form this season has earned him a Seleção call up.
RB – Yago Pikachu (Vasco); 27 years; 36 games 5 goals
Controversial to leave out Flamengo’s Rafinha. Yes, Rafinha is a quality player and has been very good for Flamengo this year. But he has only played 20 league games. Yago Pikachu has been more influential for his team with 36 games and 5 goals.
CB – Rodrigo Caio (Flamengo); 26 years; 29 games 2 goals
Flamengo’s Rolls Royce centre back Rodrigo Caio has marshalled the defence extremely well alongside Pablo Mari (who deserves a shout out too) this year.
CB – Gustavo Henrique (Santos); 26 years; 32 games 3 goals
Santos’ excellent defence has conceded 33 goals in 38 games. Gustavo Henrique is their leader and gets the nod ahead of Lucas Verissimo.
LB – Reinaldo (São Paulo); 39 years; 35 games 5 goals
São Paulo have really struggled for consistency this year, but Reinaldo has been one of the few bright spots. He is a very good left back and a leader in the São Paulo team. He takes set pieces, has a very good shot and is a fantasy football manager’s dream too. No other left back played more games in the league than he did.
CM – Willian Arão (Flamengo); 27 years; 35 games 2 goals
I thought it was very harsh on Willian Arão that he was the only starting outfield player for Flamengo not to be in the team of the year. He doesn’t just get picked in the Brazilfooty team as a sympathy vote. I think he is a better player than Gerson; Gerson is a better passer of the ball but Willian Arão is Flamengo’s rock. Only one defensive midfielder has played more league games than him this year.
CM – Carlos Sánchez (Santos); 35 years; 34 games 12 goals
Bruno Guimarães has packed his bags and is heading to Atletico Madrid. He is an excellent player, but he didn’t play that many league games due to injuries and being rested; he was better in the Cup matches for Athletico Paranaese this year.
Carlos Sánchez has had more of an impact for Santos, scoring 12 goals and providing energy and drive from midfield. Even Carlos Sánchez spent a little bit of time out of Santos’ team due to disagreements with the coach. But in those matches he normally ended up being needed. When peace was made between Carlos Sánchez and Jorge Sampaoli, the former proved to be a vital part in the team’s rise to second place.
AM – Arrascaeta (Flamengo); 25 years; 23 games 14 goals
Arrascaeta has been excellent for Flamengo since his move from Cruzeiro earlier this year. I plump for him, instead of Flamengo’s captain Éverton Ribeiro, which is hard on Éverton Ribeiro who has been excellent too. Éverton Ribeiro has played more games (35 versus Arrascaeta’s 23) but he has scored far fewer goals (2 versus Arrascaeta’s 14) and for that reason I go for the latter. Also, Arrascaeta also scored an overhead bycle kick from the edge of the box – let’s see you do that, Éverton Ribeiro.
AM – Everton (Grêmio); 23 years; 29 games 11 goals
Everton’s good form is another reason that Éverton Ribeiro misses out. Most European readers have heard of Everton most probably due to his good performances for Brazil during the Copa America, and the links with Arsenal over the summer. I haven’t always been that impressed with his all-round game, but he has been very good this year. He looks more confident, is showing leadership and looks like he belongs at the top. Grêmio tend to prioritise cup matches and rest their best players in many league games. Everton is no exception, but has still managed an impressive 11 goals.
AM – Bruno Henrique (Flamengo); 29 years; 33 games 21 goals
He formed a sensational attack with Gabigol. Occassionally he would play in the centre, but most of the time you could find him terrorising defences with his blistering pace on Flamengo’s left wing. His goal return was incredible for a winger-come-striker. His all round play was fantastic and it was fitting that his pass unlocked River Plate’s defence in the Copa Libertadores final. Late bloomer and earned a call up to the national team this year. Rumour has it that Chinese clubs are interested in his services for 2020 – losing him would be a big shame for Flamengo, and the league.
CF – Gabriel Barbosa (Flamengo); 23 years; 29 games 25 goals
Gabriel Barbosa’s nickname is Gabigol for obvious reasons. He didn’t have a good spell in Europe earlier in his career, but the potential has always been there and he broke many scoring records as a youth. He regained his form and confidence with Santos last year and this year he has moved to another level. He has got very good movement, a lethal left foot and has the ability to score all sorts of goals. Excellent this year, highlighted by his amazing goal record; his double act with Bruno Henrique was a joy to watch.
Best player: Bruno Henrique
Revelation: Michael (Goiás); 23 years; 35 games 9 goals
There were a few strong candidates including Reinier (Flamengo) and Antony (São Paulo), but I go for Michael due to his excellent form with Goiás. The 23 year old has been fundamental to their impressive season (most people tipped them to go down but they finished 10th). No other attacking midfielder has played more games for their club this season.
So, that’s it. The final thoughts are that the average age of this team is well under 30, which is great. Most of the players are in their prime or have the best ahead of them. Sometimes, the Brazilian league can be seen as a pre-retirement option for stars that have had a top career abroad; some players still do this, and there is nothing wrong with that, but it is great to see that the best players in the league are those at the peak of their game, or with the best still to come. The only player over 30 in the team above is Carlos Sanchez – fair play to him.
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