When a Brazilian plays the Brazilian way, football takes on a higher dimension. The English invented it, Argentina is the capital of passion and Brazil the place where it has always been best played. His artistic sense of the game was perhaps circumstantially surpassed by the fabulous Barcelona of Xavi, Iniesta and Messi, although it did not last for more than a decade.
Some happy formations of the always dapper and committed Dutch style must be counted through time; in the ’40s, according to chronicles of the time and stories of our elders, the golden decade of Argentine soccer amazed the continent; and in the 1950s, the splendor of Hungary’s magical Magyars dazzled the world. They are the most remembered aesthetic manifestations for excellence and good football taste. However, no one ever dethroned the creators of the nice game.
The lesson that Flamengo gave against Vélez in the Cup
When a club hires a Brazilian footballer, they ask him for goals, performance, knowledge with the ball, results, but, above all, they expect a show from him. The fantastic performance of flamingo versus Velez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires he unearthed the memory of jogo bonito, buried by decades of pragmatism and greater physical pre-eminence. This FLA on Wednesday amazed everyone, surely even Vélez’s own fans. The 4 to 0 is a white lie, the team from Rio played to double that score. Only twice had there been such a lofty result for the visitor in a Libertadores semifinal: in 1963, Botafogo 0 – Santos 4, and in 2003, América de Cali 0 – Boca 4, but not in the first leg. And surely not with this level of superiority and preciousness.
The Vélez playing field, almost always exemplary and pride of the institution, looked horrible, unpresentable. Press data assure that the grass was ruined on purpose so that the ball would not slide well and thus reduce the greater technical capacity of the Brazilians, to the point that coach Dorival Junior expressed a strong complaint about it: “It is painted and dry,” he said. Surely it was the idea of the Velez coaching staff, headed by the Uruguayan Alexander Medina. In that mean pasture, Flamengo offered the greatest dance that this chronicler remembers from a Brazilian team to another Argentine in 63 editions of the Cup, at least as a visitor. “Unforgettable Flamengo exhibition in Vélez. For history,” our colleague Juan Pablo Varsky wrote on Twitter. “What creativity this team has, how beautiful soccer well played is…!” Diego Latorre commented during the ESPN broadcast. The newspaper Olé surrendered to the masterful performance and headlined on its cover: “Flamengo is impossible”. La Nación did not hide anything: “Not even the grass tactic worked,” he stressed on his much-visited Internet page. And then, in another headline: “Flamengo overwhelmed Vélez with individual hierarchy and technical and collective wealth”. For its part, another giant, Clarín, pondered: “Flamengo put together its festival” and “It becomes a giant with its football and frightening numbers in the Libertadores”.
All Argentine journalism prostrated itself before the rubronegra exhibition and takes it for granted that it will be in the final. Vélez has no way to reverse four goals against such machinery. He also emphasized the tremendous difference in hierarchy between one campus and another. Thanks to the very complicated Argentine economy, this is a Vélez country house, with many boys from inferiors who are just starting out and who have done a lot reaching such a high level. But, beyond the abysmal distances of budgets, there is a question of how one team feels football and another. Vélez is a scratching squad, who leaves his soul in each ball, runs and sometimes complicates with the constant pressure and offensive opportunism of Lucas Jansón. But for something march 27th. among 28 teams in the Argentine tournament.
Flamengo revived for us in Liniers that Brazilian jewel called jogo bonito, the game of class and touch that the country of carnival upheld for decades and then slowly faded away. The defenders who come out playing from the bottom with category, the full-backs projecting with skill and success down their flanks, the midfielders playing and giving fluidity and charm to the game and the forwards unbalancing. All varnished with that offensive spirit that always characterized that football and made it number one in the world. Certainly, how nice it is to see him play like this…! It wasn’t just one, it was almost all of them, Rodinei (notable right-wing striker, with some similarities to Dani Alves), Filipe Luis, Everton Ribeiro, De Arrascaeta, Gabigol, Pedro, scorer of three high school goals… And that’s missing, due to long injuries, the notable Bruno Henrique and the defender and captain Rodrigo Caio. But each one who enters, like Everton Cebolinha or Diego, tunes in to the same wave and ensures that the harmony is not broken. David Luiz was a lion, however, he sells other merchandise: power, brand, leadership.
The four goals were superb, some of them anthology, like the second and the third. The 2-0 came after a succession of delicious passes, top notch, with precision and preciousness: Filipe Luis to Pedro, hit and hit Everton Ribeiro, the latter to Uruguayan De Arrascaeta (great midfielder), extended to the right for Gabigol, who , of air, without lowering it, put it in the middle of the area so that Everton Ribeiro played a cross to a point before the desperate goalkeeper Hoyos left. They circulated the ball from one end to the other with remarkable grace and perfection until it drifted into the net. They are completely unusual goals and performances. It is a production that shows how well the group gets along: they enjoy being on the pitch together and doing these wonders. No one wants to be above the other and in the association the complicity is noticeable, the friendship that must govern outside.
By the middle of the second half, the boys from Vélez did not know whether to go out or wait, they lost track of the mark, dizzy before so much disconcerting touch from one side to the other, touch with mobility and uncheck to offer passing options. There were four goals that quietly deserved to be seven or eight. If the journalist is asked who he would like to see champion, he would not feel any shame in answering “Flamengo”. It is the one that offers the best show to the public. And the Cup would crown a brilliant champion. It is also true that this disparity in skills between Flamengo and Vélez is a portrait of the time, when Brazilian football was a few steps above the rest. But we leave that discussion for later. This is the time to celebrate a football that seemed buried forever.
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