The team entered the field at Maracanã just 48 hours after beating Goiás with a goal at the last minute. His eventual “reinforcements”, Isla and Everton Ribeiro, were worn out by matches in the qualifiers and another long trip back to Brazil.
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Pedro in action: exhausted, striker only endured playing 45 minutes – Photo: André Durão
Of the starting team that Domènec Torrent chose, five players played for 90 minutes on Tuesday: Hugo Souza, Willian Arão, Thiago Maia and Pedro for Flamengo, and Isla for Chile.
Set aside the supernatural Thiago Maia and Isla, able to keep pace and perform at a good level. What remains is a tired team, worn out by games and more games, with no time to train and with several changes in the starting team.
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No speed to overcome Bragantino’s defense
This whole context needs to be taken into account. Flamengo had many difficulties against Bragantino because of all these factors, but also because the team that remained to take to the field had characteristics that did not exploit the weakness of the opponent.
Dome opted for an attack with Everton Ribeiro on the right, Pedro centered and Lincoln open on the left. None of the three excels exactly for speed. And it was precisely a sharp, deep player that the team needed to beat Bragantino’s high and narrow line.
Bragantino’s defense scores high and gives space on the sides: Flamengo did not have a player to explore the flanks – Photo: Felipe Schmidt
The team even arrived from the sides, but without many ideas to conclude the plays. In the middle, there was difficulty in setting up – Diego unfolded, but was unable to give the necessary rhythm. Renê and Lincoln took time to understand each other on the left, while Everton and Isla had few opportunities to connect in the best way.
More direct game is enough to tie
Dome seemed to understand the situation for the second half. Forced to remove the exhausted Pedro, he used Vitinho on the left and centralized Lincoln. The game started to focus on shirt 11, but the striker, still lacking confidence, managed to win in just one play.
Any Dome plan for the final stage, however, was conditioned by a goal conceded in 20 seconds. Bragantino did everything that Flamengo needed to do: it attacked with speed, both in the execution of the play, and exploring the characteristics of its players. And the red-black team, once again, made life even more difficult by going behind on the scoreboard.
Lincoln celebrates goal for Flamengo – Photo: André Durão
Flamengo only seemed to show signs of reaction with the arrival of Bruno Henrique – another conditioning a few minutes due to the marathon. Dome set up a line of four attackers, with BH on the left, Everton on the right, and Lincoln and Vitinho on the inside.
With more support from Isla, the team started to play more directly, eliminated the need for greater articulation in the middle and bet on the pure filling of spaces in the attack. It worked on Lincoln’s goal, with more people in the area, but it stopped there.
Without imagination in an empty midfield, the strategy of overcoming the high line of defense of Bragantino with long shots did not work in the final minutes and hampered the reaction of Flamengo.
Flamengo in the final stretch of the match: line of four attackers, with Diego alone in the middle and open sides – Photo: Felipe Schmidt
On paper, drawing at home with a team in the relegation zone is bad. The context mitigates the stumbling block. It is also necessary to remember that Flamengo could not count on important names that are injured, such as Arrascaeta and Gabigol.
There was a stir on social networks because Flamengo failed to become a leader. Two issues need to be taken into account: even in case of victory, the leadership would not be complete, because Atlético-MG has one game less; what matters is to be first in the last round.
Flamengo follows its marathon against Corinthians on Sunday. The most critical part of the game sequence has passed, and the trend is that it will be possible to recover some players and have a more competitive team. Dome is pushing the red-and-black squad to the limit and will need, more than ever, to think game by game to maintain the peak.