Flamengo opens this Thursday, November 23, the dispute with Atletico Junior, of Colombia, for a vacancy in the decision of the 2017 edition of the South American Cup. The kickoff of the match is scheduled for 21:45 (Brasília time) in Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro. The return match will be next Thursday, November 30, in Barranquilla.
The definition of who advances is made by the greater number of points conquered in the matches. If there is a tie, the goal balance is the first criterion for definition. If necessary, the goal as a visitor will be used as a tiebreaker. If even that is not enough, the decision will be made through penalties.
Flamengo’s recent performance
While playing in the South American Cup was not in the red-blacks plans at the start of the season, the competition became a lifeline so the club did not have a year considered a total failure.
Flamengo only started to dispute Sula after having been eliminated in the first phase of the Copa Libertadores of America. The decline in the tournament that was considered a priority by its board and fans caused great pressure to be placed on the players’ shoulders. It only increased with the loss of the title of the Brazilian Cup, in the decision by penalties, for Cruzeiro.
However, it was the weak results in the Brasileirão that led the crowd to protest even using violence. This happened twice last week. The first before a team training on Wednesday, November 15, the club’s 122 year anniversary day. The second one happened on the Island of the Urubu. Before the match against Corinthians on Sunday, November 19, the fans protested peacefully against an alleged lack of player disposition.
Taking advantage of a completely unmotivated rival after having secured the national title with three rounds of anticipation, Flamengo managed to put warm cloths in the crisis when thrashing by 3 to 0. However, it was clear that the protests had effect in the players. Defensive midfielder Rodolpho and striker Felipe Vizeu exchanged assaults during the match and were not expelled due to lack of courage.
The win took the club to sixth place in the Brasileirão with 53 points (14 wins, 11 draws and 11 losses). Enough to guarantee the right to participate in the next edition of the Copa Libertadores of America. However, a result far below what could be expected after heavy investments made in the football department.
Thus, only the South American conquest could avoid the explosion of the pressure cooker that turned Flamengo and even the interruption of the contract of the Colombian technician Reinado Rueda, although the commitment was signed until the end of next year.
Rueda also signaled that the pressure affected him and tried to take drastic measures in the game against Corinthians. One of them was the entry of the Colombian flyer Mancuello, which was not used for approximately two months. The athlete made the first goal of the match and, with that, most likely secured his place in the starting lineup for Thursday’s duel.
It was not the only measure that could receive the label of desperate. The Colombian coach also promoted the launch of 16-year-old Lincoln striker on the professional team. He played for 27 minutes on the final stage signaling that the coach is not satisfied with other cast options.
The South American has been an exception in the campaign of the club in the season 2017. The rubro-negro debuted already in the second phase and passed without any problem by Palestino, of Chile. He hit 5-2 away from home and 5 to 0 as a principal.
The next two victims were nationals. First, in the octaves, Chapecoense. With a 0-0 draw at Santa Catarina and a 4-0 win at Ilha do Urubu, Flamengo advanced to the quarter-finals. At home, he defeated Fluminense 1-0. However, it was in the return match that caused the biggest commotion of the year in his fans. After losing by 3 to 1, managed the tie by 3 to 3 that guaranteed the passage to the semifinals.
The current form of Junior
The Junior had similar trajectory to the one of Flamengo in the continental tournaments. He began the season in the Copa Libertadores of America, but to be in third place of his group was ‘downgraded’ to Sula.
In the second phase, it had a local classic. He managed to survive in the duel against Deportivo Cali in the penalty shootout after two equals by 1 to 1. The Paraguayans of Cerro Porteño were the rivals in the round of 16. In Asuncion, there was a goalless draw. In Colombia, victory for 3 to 1 of the Junior.
The situation was even more quiet in the quarterfinals. The Colombians beat Sport, in Recife, by 2 to 0. Then, they only managed the advantage when drawing without a goal the return match.
In the Colombian Championship, Junior is much better than Flamengo. In the Closing Tournament, finished in the lead. In the twelfth and final round of the qualifying round, he defeated Deportivo Pasto 1-0 at home. With that, he had 39 points (12 wins, three draws and five losses). Now begins the title challenge against America de Cali in the quarterfinals.
History of the bouts between Flamengo and Júnior
This will be the first match between teams.
Flamengo will have to overcome what has been their greatest difficulty in this Thursday’s duel against Junior. Rubro-negro often gets more possession than his rivals, but he can not turn opponents into goals and opportunities.
The scenario indicates an attack-to-defense confrontation most of the time. In Maracanã, the favoritism is for the Carioca team, which has a price of 1.55 in Betmotion. Draw presents prize of 3.45 and successful visitor multiplies the investment by 6.75.