Sampaoli put Dinizismo on the ropes, but didn’t knock him out

It is a craze for analysts to place the protagonism of games in the hands of technicians. Most of the time, it’s forced, it’s not justified. Fla-Flu, however, was the confrontation marked by the performance of its technicians, Jorge Sampaoli and Fernando Diniz.

Right away, it was surprising to see the courage of the Argentinian coach: he decided to mark insane pressure on the tricolor exit. Even kinda harsh with fouls to stop play. But a strategy that fits well to nullify Diniz’s Fluminense symbol, the touch of the ball, the play built from behind.

The strategy was only possible for an electric Flamengo like not seen in the last few games. It was as if the team that won Bahia was a somewhat broken, tired being, and suddenly gained an injection of adrenaline in the vein.

For 30 to 35min, Flamengo did not let Fluminense play. In addition to the suffocating marking, there was an excess of midfielders, Pulgar, Thiago Maia, Everton, Arrascaeta and Gerson, who prevented dominating the most important sector of the field. To the point that Diniz, at a certain point, gathered his team on the side of the field as if it were a technical basketball time to reorganize.

The goal did not come out – Gabigol and Arrascaeta were close to it after a pass from Pulgar – and Fluminense had some relief at the end of the first. His first shot on goal, from the most offensive team in Brazil, was almost at 30min in individual play by Marcelo.

Going back to the second half, there was a red-black team still suffocating in its marking in front. Without Marcelo, without Aleksander, André did his best to get the ball out and build the tricolor game. On the other hand, Pulgar lived a great night, dressed in a suit, as the ancients used to say.

Arrascaeta’s three-fingered thrust found Gabigol in a rush to be knocked down by Felipe Mello, in the Felipe Mello style, with truculence, without speed. Referee Anderson Daronco needed VAR to send him off. The judge also failed to give yellow cards to Flamengo players, who ended up with 22 fouls, in a clear tactic to stop counterattacks.

With 11×10, Flamengo almost scored with Arrascaeta and Ayrton Lucas, in headers. But the truth is that Fluminense was safer with one less due to the retreat set up by Diniz. Contrary to what he did in the Carioca final, he recomposed the defense with Manoel. And he put his team to play with a line of six in defense.

Yes, Diniz’s team knows how to defend. But it is also necessary to recognize that, in a game with the most inventive Brazilian coach, the most courageous was Sampaoli. Because even with 11×11, he sent his defenders to play practically in the offensive middle.

Flamengo lacked a player like Pedro to have presence and effectiveness in the conclusions. With Fluminense posted, speed moves were useless, a finisher would be needed. It was not Vidal’s time, perhaps Sampaoli’s only mistake.

Diniz complained about the excess of fouls by his rival (he’s right), about a supposed impartiality of the refereeing (he appealed to the cliché), but he explained the red-black dominance only by the soul question. It wasn’t just that. The truth is that the courageous Argentine put him under pressure, just as he has done with other coaches. It was left to Fluminense to defend well. Let’s remember that Diniz was also tight in the 1st State final, and then ran over his rival.

A classic that made Flamengo dream again, and Fluminense to reflect and makes us anxious for the next confrontation of these two minds, their players, their fans.

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