Flamengo: recent retrospect a concern for World Cup decisions?
Flamengo’s most decisive moment in the 2022 season has arrived. In the coming weeks, Rubro-Negro will fight for the Copa do Brasil and Copa Libertadores titles against Corinthians and Athletico-PR, respectively.
What happens in these three games can — and should — greatly influence what will be the next year for the cariocas, so there’s little care for Dorival Jr. and his commanders.
Before the first decision, against Corinthians, in the first leg of the Copa do Brasil, on the 12th, at the Neo Química Arena, in São Paulo, a doubt hangs in the air in Gávea: how will Flamengo perform?
After a very good year, Mengão arrives on the eve of the duel coming from performances well below and that leave the fans a little worried.
Next, we are going to analyze numbers, statistics and much more to understand if Flamengo is really a favorite in the two decisions or if Corinthians and Atleticans can dream of playing on equal terms against one of the strongest squads in Brazilian football in many years.
Flamengo’s sequence in the year
Flamengo experienced a fantastic month of August. In nine matches, he won eight and drew only one (against Palmeiras, away from home, for the Brasileirão). In very solid performances, he recovered well in the Brazilian Championship, eliminated Corinthians in the quarterfinals of the Libertadores and dispatched São Paulo in the semifinals of the Copa do Brasil.
And then came the month of September, which brought Mengão a lot of difficulties and the fans’ dissatisfaction. There were six matches and only two wins, two draws and two defeats. Playing very low, Flamengo saw the situation in the Brasileirão get complicated and rivals Corinthians and Athletico-PR felt that the favoritism of the cariocas in the finals was weakened.
To give you an idea, the performance for the year, which is 69.1%, dropped to an incredible 44.4% in September. The defense, which is leaked in 60% of matches in 2022, has only been overcome once in the wake of six clashes in the month.
On the other hand, the attack was still quite effective. In the season, there are 126 goals in 67 games (average of 1.88 per game). In the bad month, there were eight goals scored in six games (average of 1.33 per game).
In the three games it played in October, Flamengo even resumed its good phase, with two wins and a draw, but that was not enough to make the situation of the cariocas calm for the year.
To go directly to the 2023 Libertadores to the group stage, Flamengo needs to be champion of the Copa do Brasil or be champion of Libertadores or finish in the G-4 of the Brasileirão – and none of that is guaranteed.
In case the Rubro-Negro is unable to lift either of the two cups that it disputes in the month, it will have the final stretch of the Brazilian Championship to at least “save” the year, however, not having prioritized it for a long time can charge a very high price.
And this also comes up against the psychological factor. Flamengo will define the Copa do Brasil on the 12th and 19th, before playing the Libertadores final on the 29th. This means that losing the cup to Corinthians puts enormous pressure on the squad to defeat Athletico-PR, a dangerous opponent in a unique game.
What to expect from the Copa do Brasil and Libertadores finals?
It’s difficult to project, but one thing is certain: Corinthians has everything to be a much tougher opponent than it was in the Libertadores quarterfinals.
At that time, the team was not playing so well and was experiencing a drama with many of its key players injured, returning from injury or the case of Maycon, who was injured precisely during the game against Flamengo.
Now, Vítor Pereira has a complete squad at his disposal and a team that is much more competitive, months after being dominated by the club from Rio de Janeiro in the South American tournament.
Therefore, it is good for Flamengo to turn on the warning signal, especially in the Neo Química Arena, where, in Libertadores, Corinthians even threatened Mengão despite the limitations.
Even so, the Rubro-Negro is quite the favorite in bookmakers, even to win the first game away from home. With a cast that also had no problems, Dorival Jr. don’t have much headache to assemble your team for the final.
We can expect a very similar game in Itaquera, with Corinthians trying to attack Flamengo instead of just defending. If the match ends in a draw or with a victory for Alvinegro, the tendency of the return game is for the Paulistas to start betting on playing on the counterattack.
A single game, played on a neutral field (the stage is the Estadio Monumental de Guayaquil, in Ecuador), against an opponent led by Felipão, a coach who specializes in knockout matches. The context shows how the Libertadores final is treacherous for Flamengo.
Against Palmeiras, in the semifinal of the competition, Athletico-PR showed how it is an opponent that doesn’t care about the pressure that a team with a more defensive style suffers in front of very aggressive squads.
Away from home, Hurricane held Verdão, took advantage of the counterattacks very well and created several chances against the likely Brazilian champion of 2022.
The point is that Athletico-PR doesn’t reach the final in a very good moment either. The team has been fluctuating too much in the Brasileirão and showing many weaknesses that an extremely competent team like Flamengo will not hesitate to explore.
As we said, the Copa do Brasil can change a lot what to expect from the Libertadores decision, but at the moment Flamengo is the super favorite.
In bookmakers, while the odds in favor of the cariocas are around 1.20 to be champion, those of Athletico-PR reach around 4.00.