Flamengo returned to place too much trust in the reserves, ended up stumbling in Maracanã and failed to take the chance to get close to Palmeiras, which would set fire to the Brasileirão. The difference remains without seven points and the next five rounds are much more favorable to the São Paulo team.
Palmeiras added only 3 of the last 12 points, but now they have games against Juventude and Santos, at home, Atlético-MG and Botafogo, away, and again at Allianz against Coritiba. Flamengo’s sequence is clearly tougher: Goiás (f), Fla-Flu, Fortaleza (f), Bragantino (c) and Cuiabá (f). It’s hard to imagine the difference between them falling in September.
The fact is that the championship has long been controlled by Abel Ferreira’s team, who correctly sent reserves to the field yesterday, in Bragança, with an eye on a grim duel against Athletico in Libertadores. It would be difficult even for Flamengo, who let too many points slip away in the days of Paulo Sousa. If there was any hope, however, it was through an adaptation to the plan that was laid out a few weeks ago.
With classifications practically assured in the Libertadores and the Copa do Brasil, the natural thing would be for Fla to turn all the artillery towards the Brazilian, in search of an unprecedented triple crown in our football. Marcos Braz himself had indicated that this would happen, after the rout over Vélez. But Dorival Júnior had other plans, or rather, he followed the previous one.
He returned to put the reserve team on the field, as he had already done against Palmeiras, at Allianz, two weeks ago. The exceptions were the presence of Gabigol and the titular defense from the beginning – the defense, remembering, is suspended in Libertadores. With a partial defeat, Pedro and Éverton Ribeiro took to the field. But, even playing with one more man for most of the second half, Flamengo couldn’t turn the game around against Ceará.
It was a confusing refereeing, which unnerved the players of both teams. Jô, who had scored Ceará’s goal, was sent off for complaining about a clear unmarked foul. Gabigol was also expelled, also in an exaggerated way, for disciplinary reasons.
Since the arrival of Dorival Jr, Flamengo had 100% success at Maracanã in games for the Brasileirão – there were six victories, with 20 goals scored and 1 conceded. Adding all competitions, there were 9 victories in 10 matches, with only one setback, the one against Athletico for the Copa do Brasil. Ceará haven’t won a match since July 19, a month and a half ago. It was the beard of the round, it ended up becoming the underdog of the weekend.
Dorival’s team B had been doing the job in the Brazilian, they were five consecutive victories until the duel against Palmeiras arrived. There, Dorival chose to send the holders to the field only in the second half. It was clear that the luck of the match could have been different, in a direct confrontation against the leader. And this Sunday, at Maracanã, many expected Dorival to review his decision to play the Brasileirão with team B, but that was not the case. Flamengo paid the price, and the Brazilian, which has always been in Palmeiras’ hands, is now even more so.