Corinthians revolution hits the rocks

Bond villain and Corinthians manager Tiago Nunes wonders where it all went wrong (pic: Luis Moura)

Corinthians’ Libertadores campaign is over before it even started.

Corinthians ended a difficult week by drawing 0-0 with São Paulo in the State Championship. Local bragging rights are massively important so managing a draw in this match, away from home, was a positive for Tiago Nunes. But the early Copa Libertadores exit was a massive blow for the manager and for the club.

Corinthians’ Libertadores conquerors were Guarani, from Paraguay. Corinthians did beat them 2-1 in their qualifying round second leg on Wednesday last week, but they exit the competition on away goals having lost the first leg in Paraguay 1-0 a week before. The defeat is a massive financial blow to the club (the club’s 2020 budget factored in reaching the quarter finals) and it also represent a failure to turn a new page after a disappointing few years. Corinthians had waited to get their new manager Tiago Nunes and there were big hopes going into the new season. Such an early Libertadores exit is a massive blow to those plans.

It is not all bad news for Corinthians. Their performance in the second leg was good: they created the bulk of the chances and played good football even after they were reduced to 10 men in the 28th minute, after Pedrinho (perhaps a tad unluckily) was shown a red card for a high foot. Luan has shown some flashes of his talent, and scored his side’s first goal against Guarani, while fellow new signing Victor Cantillo looks the part. More generally, the team has started to show (albeit inconsistently) that they are embracing the ideas of Tiago Nunes – i.e. to play with intensity and a quick transition between defence and attack.

But there is still some work to be done. The team needs more pace in attack. There have been some flashes from Luan, but I’m still not convinced that we are going to see the same player that won South American footballer of the year three seasons ago. Boselli and Vagner Love have done well so far this season, but I think that a younger, quicker, striker would be better suited to the way that Thiago Nunes wants to play. Youngster Davó, signed from a Brazilian side called Guarani (not the Paraguayan one that knocked them out of the cup), could fit that bill one day, but isn’t ready yet.

Tiago Nunes also needs to get his first choice wingers, Pedrinho and Yony González, integrated into the team. The former has only just returned from Brazil u23 duty (and lasted 28 minutes of their Libertadores tie), while the latter has just been signed from Benfica (where he curiously did not play any games). Ramiro had been playing well but suffered an injury and hasn’t featured for a few weeks, while Everaldo, Janderson and Madson have failed to convince. The constant chopping and changing on both flanks has not helped with the continuity of Corinthians’ play.

As for the match against São Paulo, it would be wrong to read into it too much from a Corinthians point of view, so soon after the Libertadores elimination; the players must have been emotionally and physically drained. In those circumstances, Corinthians turned in a decent performance.

The match finished 0-0, and as is often the case with São Paulo, the opposition didn’t see much of the ball, but had the best chances; two of those fell to Boselli, both in first half injury time. As for São Paulo, they play possession football, but they aren’t clinical enough when they get chances and although they keep possession, which looks nice on the eye at times, they do way too many backward passes and their play is nowhere near objective enough. I’m not expecting big things from them this season.

Elsewhere, Flamengo are into the final of the Guanabara Cup after beating Fluminense 3×2 in a midweek match last week. They will play Boavista in the final. Yesterday, they won their first silverware of the season after beating Athletico Paranaense 3-0 in the Supercup final in Brasília. The team really is looking good and the players are playing with so much confidence. Not only have they kept their best players, but they have added quality all over the pitch including Michael, Pedro, Pedro Rocha, Thaigo Maia, Gustavo Henrique and Leo Pereira. Watch out for Flamengo this season: they could be even better than last year!

Last but not least, check out Nene’s recent goal for Fluminense v Botafogo, on Brazilfooty’s new Youtube channel:

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