The coach’s main characteristic is knowing how to adapt to the squad
Announced last Thursday afternoon (20), coach Dorival Junior arrives at São Paulo for his second spell in a situation very similar to that found in 2017: replacing Rogério Ceni and with the mission of ridding Tricolor of any threat of relegation in the Brasileirão.
The similarities, however, stop there. Dorival’s main feature in his work is adapting to the characteristics of the squad, and this always results in teams that play in very different ways from each other. O THROW! brings, below, a brief retrospective of the last works of the coach and, based on them, how São Paulo should play from now on.
OFFENSIVE AND ORGANIZED ATTACK
Since the beginning of his career, in the early 2000s, offensiveness has been the main characteristic of Dorival’s teams. Your team controls possession of the ball and proposes the game, no matter how it attacks. Two recent works serve as an example in this regard: Santos from 2015/2016 and Flamengo from 2022.
In the first case, Santos was Paulista champion (2016), and vice-champion of the Copa do Brasil (2015) and of the Brazilian Cup (2016) practicing a positional attack, where the players are distributed in predetermined spaces of the field. Who is close to the ball, gives option of pass; those who are not, wait for the ball to approach to play.
His team built with a ‘way out of three’: Thiago Maia (1st defensive midfielder) slipped between the defenders and freed the full-backs Zeca and Victor Ferraz to play in the middle, as point guards. Those responsible for opening the field were the wingers (Gabigol, Copete, Vitor Bueno, Marquinhos Gabriel and etc).
At Flamengo, other ideas were applied. At the beginning, the coach tried to reproduce what worked at Santos, but the Red-Black squad had different characteristics, with players who like to approach the ball, without a fixed position. In the end, Dorival ended up adapting to win the Copa do Brasil and Libertadores.
The first solution found was to design a diamond in the midfield, with João Gomes, Thiago Maia, Everton Ribeiro and Arrascaeta, and an attack duo with Pedro and Gabigol. The offensive quartet had complete freedom to change positions, as the players like. This form of attack is known as a ‘functional attack’ or ‘mobility game’.
In construction, Thiago Maia made the same exit in 3 of Santos. But this time, the full-backs were free to overtake. That’s how Rodinei, for example, had his redemption at the Rio de Janeiro club.
This ‘freedom’ for the players matched a principle that has always guided Dorival’s work: the coach is responsible for taking the team to the offensive middle. The decisions, especially in the ‘final third’ of the field, that is, close to the attack area, are always up to the players.
THE PROBABLE SÃO PAULO DE DORIVAL
It is still not possible to know if the technician will make a positional or functional attack. But we can predict, based on the characteristics of the players, a three-way match made with Nestor, Pablo Maia or Luan. Gabriel Neves can also recover lost space in this role.
On the wings, only Rafinha has the ability to play in the middle. The other position players usually attack through the corridor. Thus, Dorival will hardly use the full-backs as point guards.
The biggest difficulty must be further ahead. With the full-backs playing on the flanks, the attackers must occupy more of the center of the pitch. Wellington Rato, Pedrinho, David and Michel Araújo, who work on the wing, will have to adapt. Or Dorival can put together a team that bets more on triangulations along the edges.
Repertoire the technician has. It remains to be seen which ideas Dorival Júnior will use from next Saturday (22nd), when he makes his debut in charge of Tricolor against América-MG.
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