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A fight yet to be seen: Sampaoli starts ahead of Torrent as the best coach in Brazil

New Flamengo coach Domenèc Torrent had difficulties controlling Atlético Goianiense’s counter-attacks, which resulted in a convincing 3-0 win for the home team. Meanwhile, after conceding two goals to Corinthians, Sampaoli’s Atlético Mineiro managed to get a win at home in an electric second half.

Last year’s league champion, Flamengo, is having a rough start in the Brasileirão. After falling to Jorge Sampaoli’s Atlético Mineiro at home in the first fixture, the team didn’t resist the other Atlético powerful attack. Maybe the reason for such a poor performance was the new tactics Torrent placed on the field, as Flamengo began the match on a 3-5-2, with center-back Rodrigo Caio playing on the right side of the defense since Rafinha couldn’t play the 90 minutes and was on the bench. With the new formation, midfielder Gerson played closer to the opponent’s area, alongside Everton Ribeiro, who was used to being more on the right, an area occupied yesterday by forward Vitinho.

One thing that drew the attention of supporters was the distance between the very successful one-two punch of Bruno Henrique and Gabigol. The two played far from each other, diminishing Flamengo’s chances of scoring goals. The whole team, in general, looked tired and still missing former Portuguese commander Jorge Jesus, who returned home to SL Benfica. It looks like Domènec Torrent has a lot of work to do with his new players.

Flamengo’s transition defense, or lack of it, made the champions pay when Atlético started running with the ball. Hyuri and Gustavo Ferrarez were the two main names for Goianiense, scoring the first and third goals, respectively. Attacking midfielder Jorginho played great as well, scoring a beautiful goal after getting past the defender and placing the ball in the keeper’s left corner. To be fair, Atlético went to their first game in five months with the best strategy possible. Defended well, only waiting for the right opportunity to attack Flamengo and swing Diego Alves’s net.

As for Dome, he needs to understand his players are used to playing to a very different 4-3-3 that was successful in the past. For him to implement new concepts, it’s gonna take a while because although they have great technique, for now, they don’t have the best understanding of Torrent’s tactics that resemble his former boss Guardiola. The success of 3-5-2 is in controlling the midfield with your two midfielders and being superior in numbers on the wings. Doing that, the defense won’t suffer as much as Flamengo’s defenders did against Atlético, and then it’s possible to suffocate the opponent in the offense side of things.

Their next game is Saturday against Coritiba, once again away from Maracanã. Let’s see which strategy Domenèc Torrent is going to use to ward off the bad form.

In Atlético Mineiro, the situation is the opposite. Two games, two wins in Brasileirão, and since Sampaoli signed in March, he hasn’t lost. With an aggressive style, the Argentinian changed the face of Atlético, executing exactly the way he understands soccer must be played. As usual, he asked for a lot of new signings and president Sette Câmara attended his wish, bringing in Junior Alonso, a defensive back from Boca Juniors, and Marrony, a young striker from Vasco da Gama, including others. The renewal of midfielder Nathan’s contract was also really important for what Sampaoli had in mind. The former Chelsea player was put closer to the net by his coach, a change that paid off, as he has already 10 goals in the season.

In the first league game against Flamengo, Jorge Sampaoli didn’t hesitate to attack the last year’s champion with all force, putting Keno and Marquinhos in the wings with Marrony in the center close to Nathan, who comes from behind. The result was a game full of chances for both teams and if the players were a little more accurate in their shot attempts, the match could’ve ended 4-3 to anyone. Unfortunately, the only scorer on this occasion was Flamengo’s left-back Filipe Luís, who sent the ball into his own goal on the day of his birthday.

Two days ago at Mineirão against Corinthians, Atlético Mineiro got surprised by the way the away team was playing. Known for the defense, Corinthians showed facets never seen before with new coach Tiago Nunes, and in 30 minutes, the match had a two goal advantage for them thanks to the duo Araos-Jô. Atlético tried to revert the damage in the first half, but the precision wasn’t quite there, something characteristic of Sampaoli’s squads.

The half-time speech must have been great because, in the final 45 minutes, the home team was everything the Argentinian coach asked for. In only 9 minutes, they scored three goals with Hyoran (2), who was on the bench, and Nathan (who else) giving the “Galo Doido” a win in Sampaoli style: intense and attacking all the time. It was interesting to see how the full-backs kept making runs by the middle of the field like they were midfielders, especially when even Junior Alonso adventured himself doing that.

Now, Atlético will face Ceará in the next league fixture on Sunday. Hopefully, Sampaoli won’t need to give another powerful speech at half time.

After two games, the Argentinian Sampaoli sees himself in a better position than the Spaniard Torrent. While one is in second place in the standings, the other is in last. Flamengo and Atlético Mineiro are two of the candidates for the title, so probably the situation will be different when the championship gets to the end, but one thing is certain: Brazilian soccer is lucky to have such coaches like them fighting for the grand prize.


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