Teamwork makes the dream work

Flamengo vs. Corinthians is South America’s finest

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Because the Brazilian league attracts to a detailed, latest rounds seem to have been overshadowed by the build-up to the ultimate of the home cup going down over the following two Wednesdays between the 2 hottest golf equipment of an enormous nation.

Brazilian soccer loves large cup video games. The league is all very effectively — it retains all of the groups in exercise all through the season — however there’s at all times the prospect of 1 workforce working away with the title as appears to be the case this yr with Palmeiras. The Brazil Cup, or Copa do Brasil, in the meantime, is an all-or-nothing, winner-take-all contest over the course of two residence and away legs.

The cup match-up this yr is particularly titanic as a result of it pits Flamengo of Rio, the best-supported workforce within the nation, towards Corinthians of Sao Paulo, the best-supported workforce from the largest metropolis. By a quirk of destiny, these two groups have by no means earlier than met in a ultimate of this magnitude.

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In January 1991, they confronted one another within the Tremendous-Copa, a curtain-raiser to the season that includes the champions of the league and the cup. However that, compared to these two video games, was a glorified pleasant. That is the true deal.

Flamengo, in fact, have one other ultimate later this month — the one-off decider of South America’s Copa Libertadores, when, on Oct. 29 in Guayaquil, Ecuador, they tackle one other Brazilian opponent in Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Athletico Paranaense. The stakes are greater in that sport, too — it opens the door to the Membership World Cup, and the prospect to have a crack on the European champions.

However the Libertadores ultimate has an air of David and Goliath about it. Athletico, from the smaller, provincial metropolis of Curitiba, are a massively spectacular, ahead pondering membership. However they can’t hope to have the identical weight, the identical depth of custom and illustration as Flamengo — or of Corinthians.

Flamengo towards Corinthians, then, is the conflict of the titans, of golf equipment with fan bases better than the whole populations of most different South American nations. And, as the large video games method, they’re wanting much more fascinating.

There may be little doubt that Flamengo are the favourites. There have been occasional hiccups alongside the way in which, however for some three and a half years now they’ve been sweeping away most of their opponents. This coming Libertadores ultimate will probably be their third in 4 years. They have been champions of Brazil in 2019 and ’20. However the hole between Flamengo and Corinthians would appear to be shrinking — and far of that has to do with a participant who got here by the ranks with one membership and now stars for the opposite.

Renato Augusto is among the nice triumphs and main tragedies of the Brazilian sport in latest instances. In a footballing tradition that has vexingly didn’t give you a Kevin De Bruyne, he’s the perfect that Brazil has produced. An attacking midfielder with power on the ball, uncommon approach and intelligence, imaginative and prescient for the defence-splitting move, Renato seems to have all the pieces — besides a physique ready to deal with the calls for of elite stage soccer.

The 34-year-old has been dogged by accidents. With out them he would have spent for much longer in Europe than the 4 seasons he performed for Bayer Leverkusen. With out them, he wouldn’t have performed in China for 5 years — and Brazil might effectively have been in a position to go additional within the 2018 World Cup had he been absolutely match.

A product of Flamengo — he grew up within the shadow of the Maracana stadium — he’s now in his second spell with Corinthians. He must be nursed by the rigours of the season. However Renato is now in kind, which in flip helps convey out the perfect in striker Yuri Alberto.

Again in early August, Flamengo and Corinthians met within the quarter finals of the Libertadores. Flamengo received residence and away, 2-0 in Sao Paulo and 1-0 in Rio — they usually have been clearly superior, particularly after that they had taken the lead. However each instances, Corinthians pushed exhausting for some time, most likely shading each first halves. Renato hardly featured, coming off the bench within the second sport.

This time, he’s key to the hopes of Corinthians, particularly in entrance of their very own followers in Wednesday night time’s first leg. There are gaps within the Flamengo defence. In contrast with the 2019 workforce, the place Spanish centre-back Pablo Mari proved an environment friendly organiser of the excessive line, they don’t seem to be as strong.

Can Renato discover the house to probe for gaps? Or will the fearsome Flamengo ahead line hearth as soon as once more? Striker Pedro is unquestionably World Cup certain, and Gabriel Barbosa has tailored his sport accordingly, much less the penalty space “Gabi-goal,” extra the cellular second striker dropping deep. And Everton Ribeiro and the Uruguayan Giorgian De Arrascaeta immediate cleverly from midfield.

Corinthians, in the meantime, are banking on the Renato Augusto-Yuri Alberto mixture, and likewise on the restoration of veteran goalkeeper Cassio, who has picked up a foot harm.

Now 35, and on the membership for over a decade, the large Cassio was Brazil’s third alternative keeper within the final World Cup. He’s a Corinthians hero above all else for his match successful show towards Chelsea within the ultimate of the 2012 Membership World Cup. He might should give you one thing comparable if his workforce are to win this title. Cassio’s time is the large event — they usually do not come a lot greater than Corinthians towards Flamengo with a title at stake.

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