Atlético-MG lost its 100% of advantage playing at home in the Brazilian Championship when they tied, yesterday (14), in 1 to 1 with Fluminense, for the 16th round. Although the result was not what the players, coach Jorge Sampaoli and the fan expected, the first draw in the competition was enough to keep Galo at the top of the national tournament table.
However, if there were a few rounds the team had “good fat” points and a considerable distance from the most direct opponents in the fight for first place, today the reality is different.
By adding just one point in Mineirão before the Flu, the Rooster allowed the approach of those who were already on the tail. Internacional, who beat Sport 5-3, equaled the number of points (31), but have one more game. Flamengo, which is in third place, has 30 points, followed by São Paulo, which closes the G-4, with 26. However, Rubro-Negro, today, faces vice-lantern Red Bull Bragantino, in Maracanã.
Jorge Sampaoli said after the game that his team had two different times against Tricolor of Rio de Janeiro. In the first stage, within the Argentine coach’s own view, Atlético-MG was passive. However, in the second half the team had an “incredible” performance in the understanding of the commander.
“We have to know how to deal with the dominance that we generate when we put ourselves in the rival field. It happened in the second half, which I emphasize a lot, because for me it was incredible. We have to follow this path”, he said.
Even with such a considerable improvement pointed out by Sampaoli, it did not match the performance of the initial stage, which even provided an opening for the opponents to reveal latent problems of the Belo Horizonte team.
With positioning behind the ball line and strong compaction in defense when Galo had possession, Fluminense stopped one of the strongest attacks in the Brasileirão for 45 minutes. Odair Hellmann managed to nullify the main weapons of Atlético-MG, which, as Sampaoli himself acknowledged, had difficulty overcoming the “Tricolor bolt”.
“First half favorable to a team that came to play the game that we thought, which was to counterattack, steal fast and get out fast. We were unable to connect the attack (…) In the second half, dominance was evident, against a team that had 11 players almost in their area. It was very difficult to generate chances, but the team searched everywhere. From the right, from the center, from the left “, analyzed the coach alvinegro.
This problem had already been detected against Fortaleza, in the athletic defeat at Arena Castelão, in the 14th round.
And even with the dominance, reflected in the numbers (more than 60% of possession of the ball) against Fluminense, Atlético managed to reach the second goal. A lot, too, for the outstanding performance of goalkeeper Muriel, who made at least three crucial saves that prevented the possible victory of the home team.
Accustomed to stacking submissions in the 16th round, Atlético-MG kicked the opponent goal only 13 times, eight of which were in the Rio goal, and only one ball entered.
Asked in a press conference whether the Rooster needed reinforcements for the offensive part, Sampaoli, surprisingly, preferred to value the athletes who are part of his squad.
“You can win, lose, but the intention of the second half that makes me happy. The result seems fair, due to the situation of the team and the situation of the rival. Today, it is up to me to leave working with these players, but if there is one that can help, much better “, commented.
Galo is close to receiving Argentine midfielder Matías Zaracho, who will come from Racing-ARG. Upon confirming the negotiation, the transaction will be the most expensive in the club’s history.
Sampaoli is also close to having the returns of Paraguayan defender Junior Alonso, Ecuadorian midfielder Alan Franco and striker Savarino for the game against Bahia, next Monday (19th), in Salvador. The three were at the service of their selections in games valid for the South American Qualifiers for the World Cup of Qatar in 2022.