Fluminense FC

2016  was an emotional year for the “Tricolor” fans. After a terrible startup at Campeonato Carioca, with only 2 victories, a draw and 3 defeats, coach Eduardo Batista was dismissed from office on February 25.

The experienced Levir Culpi replaced him, leading Fluminense to win the Primeira Liga 2016 in less than two months, a competition with clubs from Minas Gerais, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná and Rio de Janeiro. Success was not regular during last season, so in the 34th matchday of Brasileirão,  Levir Culpi was dismissed. Abel Braga came next to assume the destiny of one of the biggest Brazilian clubs and try to improve the 13th place in Brasileirão 2016, counting on a group of players from their junior teams and some young talents. 

The journey

This new model have been presenting really good results with 8 wins, 3 draws and 1 defeat, with 29 scored goals and 10 suffered.

Guanabara Cup – the first round of the Campeonato Carioca – brought the best results: 5 group wins, 14 goals scored and none conceded.

Abel Braga managed to create a tactical system that values the best in each player. With a first team squad composed by experienced and promising young players, Fluminense showed ability to play in fast transitions but also with a supported football. Wellington Silva, Marcos Júnior, Henrique Dourado, Léo, Lucas, Douglas, Richarlison, Scarpa and Sornoza were the featured players in this season’s beginning.

Fla – Flu

In Guanabara Cup final, Fluminense confronted the main rival, Flamengo. One of the biggest classic matches in the world.

An emotional match, with a frantic beginning, ending with a 3-3 draw. In the penalties, Fluminense took advantage and won their 10th Cup. Marcos Júnior was the hero, scoring the winning penalty, like he did for the Primeira Liga 2016.

With the absence of Scarpa and Douglas, Abel Baga trusted in Pierre and Richarlison, using a 1-4-3-3 that turned into a 1-4-1-4 when defending.

Image 1: Tactical system 1-4-1-4-1 in defensive organization 

When the team had time to organize, Flamengo didn´t had space to play. Flamengo only managed to unbalance offensively through individual initiatives by Diego or through a more direct style for Paolo Guerrero. Wellington Silva put Fluminense ahead in the fourth minute, but Flamengo soon equalized after a free kick. Richarlison was too slow recovering the defensive position and made the fault that lead to the goal. Even in numerical advantage, the “Tricolor” struggled to stop the aerial game of the “Mengão”.

Image 2:  Bad timing for Júlio César to attack the ball, in a zone controlled by Renato Chaves. Even in numerical advantage Fluminense suffered the equalizer in a free kick.

Richarlison continued to not following Pará, Flamengo´s right back. Pará made crosses with time and space to find Guerrero hidden in the back of Lucas. The Peruvian forward headed in the back side and Éverton shift the score in the second ball. Again with an aerial play, even in numerical advantage, 4×3, Fluminense couldn’t win the ball.

Image 3: Defensive passivity with the full back crossing to Guerrero. The play finished with the 2-1 by Éverton.

After the result twist, Fluminense had to impose itself and take advantage of Flamengo´s defensive weaknesses, through a more supported football and also with fast transitions whenever the opponent conceded spaces.

The speed in the attack started with the upfront movements of the full backs, Lucas and Léo. A more vertical style with the ability to unbalance Flamengo´s defense.

Image 4: Léo receiving the ball close to his box and conquering space easily, pushing his team upfront with Richarlison, Wellington Silva and Henrique Dourado searching for space to shoot. 

Image 5: Fluminense´s third goal comes from an upfront movement of Lucas 

Fluminense player Sornoza, always him, defines the game rhythm. The Ecuadorian midfielder took the spotlight in a very demanding match.  His game vision and passing quality to find his team mates, caught the attention of everyone.

Image 6: Sornoza saw Lucas, waited for the right timing, let the full back to win the defender’s back and opened in the right.

The main concern for Fluminense was to react quickly to the ball recovery and make a fast transition, taking advantage of Flamengo´s offensive involvement, the decompensations and free spaces. Wellington Silva and Richarlison were the more wanted to create this numerical advantage situations for their quickness and technical ability.

Image 7: After an opponent free kick, Wellington Silva lead the counter attack with only 7 seconds, resulting in the first goal of the match.

After an intense first half with 5 goals, Abel Braga bet on the defensive organization to win the final. The lines were back, he forced Wellington Silva and Richarlison to follow the opposing full backs and didn’t give space for Diego to organize. A tactical change that became even more visible after Berrío stepped in on the match at 65´. 

Image 8: Wellington Silva and Richarlison in a defensive organization moment, stepping back and worrying about supporting their full backs.

Abel Braga was able to organize a young, irreverent and vertical team, that has shown to be one of the best teams in this start of the season. The Fluminense talents live in a tactical anarchy – they do well in a context of greater freedom and take advantage to value themselves. A pleasant surprise that can give everyone a lot to talk about in Brasileirão 2017.

By Francisco Gomes da Silva