Yesterday’s round of Brasileirão became more evidence of what was already becoming clear: we don’t know how to predict anything. In the seesaw that became favoritism, after two consecutive defeats, the reserve Palmeiras (almost supposedly in crisis) gave enormous work to the very strong Atlético-MG, tying a game that could have won but for a few things, including the lamentable aim by Victor Luís.
Further to the south of the country, Flamengo, also a reserve (enjoyed by the beautiful farewells to Maracanã and Rio de Janeiro), almost took an unbelievable turn from the very strong candidate for relegation Grêmio, with one less on the field. The thing was so terrifying that there were those who suggested that Renato Gaúcho was handing over the game.
What does this mean about the big duel of the year for the two teams? About who comes stronger, who has more chances to lift the cup on Saturday, who is the favourite? Nothing. Zero. Anything.
Interestingly, both teams land in Uruguay tormented by the press and the fans. After historic sequences of titles, both becoming national and continental champions, consolidating a hegemony in South American football, some still seem insatiable.
Flamengo has lost only four of the last 38 matches and has a squad capable of causing panic throughout South America. Palmeiras is the current champion of the Libertadores and Copa do Brasil, third in the Brasileirão. But it’s not enough for everyone. Thirsty fans and fans, who seem to have not lived through the many years of ingloriousness of their teams. As always, my mother was right: daughter, with good things you get used to it very quickly.
On the Final itself: I can’t name favorites in a single match between two strong teams that know each other so well. In addition to Almeida’s Imponderable (an early goal, a sending-off, injury, Arrascaeta whole or not, etc.), another very relevant factor will be on the field: the fear of losing.
You don’t dispute the biggest title on the continent the same way you dispute a midweek round of the national championship, especially when you’re practically no longer in the fray. Change the tactical schemes and changes, especially, the emotional one. Some find themselves, others get lost.
I think Abel Ferreira is better coach than Renato Gaúcho. Palmeiras, too, seems to take better care of their players’ physical condition. After two crazy seasons, with practically no vacation, he arrived in Montevideo in one piece. Remarkable feat. Flamengo and its coach had to deal with a medical department fuller than Casas Bahia’s door on Black Friday.
Can give anything. Same. So the overconfident fan and the terrified fan are both probably wrong.
The true truth is that not even the greatest trophies bring peace to professional football in Brazil. Who works around here, get used to it. Even because along with the hassle – and stratospheric salaries – comes the privilege of having passionate fans, responsible for the most beautiful parties that these eyes will see.
Good luck to those involved. Some more than others, of course. I’m not made of iron.