Cariocão 2023, Fluminense the Two-Time Champion

The State Championships, although much criticized, mainly for taking up a certain amount of time in the annual calendar of Brazilian Football, is what marks the beginning of our season, showing who are the potential forces for the year and who can surprise. For the big ones it is an important period to adjust the team, for the smaller ones it is one of the few chances to demonstrate their value to the big crowd.

Fluminense x Flamengo

On the one hand, Fluminense, the team of the moment, with the quick touch, the “functional” attack, the Brazilian coach with the greatest potential, Fernando Diniz and the Argentine top scorer who never tires of making the L, German Cano. On the other hand, Flamengo, current champion of the Copa do Brasil and Libertadores of America, which since 2019 has been claiming titles year after year, with its stars Everton Ribeiro, Gabigol, Pedro and company.

Fluminense’s Path to the Final

Flu had a great campaign in the famous Guanabara Cup, which in this edition was the group stage of Cariocão, with 8 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses in 11 games, the Laranjeiras team ranked first with 25 points, which accredited it to play the Cariocão semifinals against the club that had the 4th best campaign, Volta Redonda. In addition to, of course, raising the symbolic trophy of champion of the Guanabara Cup.

In the first game of the semifinals that took place at Raulino de Oliveira Stadium, home of Volta Redonda, Nense suffered in the 1st half, Volta’s team managed to nullify Fluminense’s chances and managed to open the scoreboard, in the 2nd half Volta at 6 minutes expanded the score, from then on Flu went all out but there was no way, the ball didn’t seem to want to go in, until at 33 minutes Nino dropped it with a header, the end of the game 2-1 for Volta Redonda.

The 2nd game of the semi was at Maracanã, where Flu is used to playing and has been working magic in 2023, this time it was no different, they did not let Volta Redonda play and won 7×0, with the right to 4 goals by Argentine top scorer Germán Cano , which qualified Tricolor to compete in the final.

Fluminense empolga, goleia o Volta Redonda por 7 a 0 e está na final do Cariocão — Fluminense Football Club
Celebration of one of Cano’s goals against Volta Redonda in the Cariocão semifinal. Photo: Mailson Santana/Fluminense FC

Flamengo’s Path to the Final

Flamengo started the year with a new coach, the Portuguese Vitor Pereira, who took a while to try to implement his style of play in the Rubro-Negro filled with stars. In the Guanabara Cup there were 7 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses, with 23 points Mengão qualified in 3rd place for the semifinals, it was a solid group stage but not what the fans expected, after all they were simultaneously eliminated in the semifinals of the World Cup Clubes and lost the titles of the Supercopa do Brasil, and Recopa Sulamericana.

Even so, Flamengo continued its work and faced Vasco da Gama in the Cariocão semifinal, the first classic was played at Maracanã, it was a great game, with goals from Arrascaeta, Pedro and Fabrício Bruno, the Gávea team won 3×2 against its archrival.

In the second game it was no different, also in Maracanã, but with the command of Gigante da Colina, Mengão took the lead with Pedro right at the beginning, Capasso tied for Vasco and the game from then on became a tension only, until at 39 of the second half, Pedro scored from the penalty spot and Ayrton Lucas increased it in stoppage time, 1×3 and Flamengo qualified for the final.

Pedro faz dois, Flamengo bate o Vasco e vai à final contra o Flu

Final, First Game

The atmosphere for the Cariocão final was one of the best, everyone expected great games, after all Flu was coming off a historic defeat against Volta Redonda and Flamengo was coming off two great victories over Vasco.

The 1st game starts with Fluminense trying to impose their cadence and exchanging passes between Flamengo’s lines, who soon realize the insinuation and cut it in the bud, Flamengo was already demonstrating at the beginning of the match what it had not yet demonstrated in the season, a good collective job in defense, there was a great synergy between Flamengo’s lines, which hindered Flu a lot.

So much so that just after 5 minutes of the 1st half, in a counterattack, Ewerton Cebolinha carried the ball through the middle make beautiful cut and finished close to goalkeeper Fábio’s post. But still the game was back and forth, at 10 minutes after Gerson’s ugly mistake, Arias came out in the face of the goalkeeper Santos and wasted the chance to open the scoring.

After a technical stoppage at 21 of the 1st half, Flamengo enters the game with more energy and has two good chances to open the scoring, in the same play Pedro tries to shoot, the ball hits Nino, the round returns to the 9 who kicks again to good save by Fabio. the first half ended after a beautiful save from Alexsander, who, at the right time, made a beautiful tackle to avoid Matheus França’s finish.

During the break Fernado Diniz ends up deciding to take Keno out and put in Gabriel Pirani, the substitution works, but not in the way that the young coach wanted, with the departure of Keno the Laranjeiras team lost breadth and depth, with only the Colombian sprinter from then on Arias, who couldn’t handle it alone.

At 5 minutes of the 2nd half, after an aerial ball dispute, the round left for Matheus França, the boy from Gávea makes a good pass to Pedro who, with a heel touch, finds Ewerton in the middle, Cebolinha breaks away from the defender and rolls the ball on the left for Ayrton Lucas to finish firmly, 1×0 Mengo.

After Flamengo’s goal, Nense, in the 9th minute, tried to respond with a free kick by Ganso, who was looking for the angle, but the ball was weak and Santos grabbed. Flu tries to dictate the pace of the game and starts to rely more on the ball and play in the Rubro-negro field, but did not have any clear chance to tie the match.

After stealing the ball in the midfield, Ayrton Lucas makes a beautiful move, leaving at least 3 Fluminense defenders behind, reaches the bottom line and makes a beautiful cross for Pedro to finish and increase the score, Flamengo 2×0.

Still around 20 minutes into the second half, Samuel Xavier makes a strong tackle on Ayrton Lucas and is sent off, Flu has no more strength to react, Flamengo almost scores another goal with David Luiz but Fábio makes a beautiful save, game over in Maracanã, 2×0 for Mengão.

Final, Second Game

The week that preceded the last game of the final was a lot of work and concentration for both teams, but both would start the journey towards eternal glory in the Libertadores in the middle of the week. Flu traveled to Peru and with maximum strength defeated Sporting Cristal by 3×1, Flamengo traveled to the altitude of 2800 meters from Quito to face the newcomer Aucas, with a reserve team Mengão felt the game and lost by 2×1.

The press criticized Vitor Pereira a lot for having spared his players against Aucas and for having prioritized Cariocão, it turns out that the difference in the results in the middle of the week, made Flu arrive super motivated for the decision, which seems not to have happened with the Flamengo.

Rolls the ball in the Carioca decision, Fluminense manages to impose its rhythm right at the beginning, exchanging quick passes and making the ball rotate around the entire field, in order to find the way to the goal, Cano receives the ball in the middle and releases a strong kick that stops in the Santos’ hands, Flu continues not letting Fla play, and after Marcelo’s beautiful plot, the winger serves alexsander who finishes low on Santos’ post.

Nense heats up in the game, the defensive midfield duo André and Alexsander give the team great support and ball output, Ganso in front of them receives the balls and with just one or two touches breaks Flamengo’s lines, which unlike the 1st game did not mange to defend the surrounding Fluzão, who plays with his wingers Keno and Arias approaching the middle and attack, Keno more on the left sector of the field and Arias floating throughout the offensive sector.

Until the technical timeout that occurred at 20 minutes of the 1st half, Flu still had two more good arrivals, until then only Flu was playing, Flamengo tried to defend itself as it could and tried to set up counterattacks that had no effect. in the 26th minute, Marcelo receives the ball on the right side of the area, spins back leaving Cebolinha sold, cuts Gerson and from outside the area hits a beautiful indefensible slap for goalkeeper Santos, Marcelo’s 1st goal after returning to Laranjeiras, 1×0 Flu who finds the way to the goal.

Flamengo was not doing well in the game, when Marcelo scored the goal, it seems that Rubro-negro collapsed, while Flu continued with its engaging game, exchanging quick passes and trying to find spaces for approximation and also infiltration, that was how in the 31 minutes after a beautiful escape from Keno on the left, the winger brings the ball inside, finds Ganso in the middle who makes a beautiful pass to Cano who was infiltrating the area, the Argentine receives and hits with class, 2×0 Fluminense.

At 39 minutes of the first half, Flamengo manages to finish for the first time in the game with David Luiz’s header going out, soon after hitting and rebounding in the area, Pedro tries a half bicycle that goes over Fábio’s goal. The 1st half seemed to be coming to an end, until on the 44th minute, after a beautiful exchange of passes between Keno and Alexsander on the left, Keno activated Ganso, who once again saw Alexsander’s projection in the area, who received the ball and kicked from the beak to a beautiful defense by goalkeeper Santos. End of first half.

In a desperate measure to see if the team could adjust, Vitor Pereira decided to remove Gabigol and place Everton Ribeiro and remove defender Léo Pereira and place Matheus França, thus undoing the line of 5 defenders that Flamengo had, the fact is that even so it did not work, Fluminense had an inspired night, putting into practice everything that their commander teaches them, coupled with the philosophy of courage, courage to do and give the best on the field, to try the dribble, try the pass, finish on goal.

Flamengo still tries to react, after a good corner kick by Cebolinha, Thiago Maia goes up well and heads down into the corner of the experienced Fábio, who makes a beautiful save and does not let the ball in. Flu continued to impose its game, and when Flamengo managed to break through the lines, Flu tried to make a foul to kill the game, an example of this was the card taken by Marcelo in the 6th minute of the 2nd half.

A foul for Fluminense, Marcelo takes towards Felipe Melo, who cannot head the ball as the ball runs through the hand of defender Fabrício Bruno, penalty for Fluminense, Cano takes the ball with affection and puts it on the whitewash mark, takes distance, leaves to the ball and kicks it at Santos, but a scorer who is a scorer needs luck, the ball comes back to his feet and from a tackle he makes the 3rd for Flu, 3×0 Nense. With that goal, the scorer who never tires of making the L, reaches the mark of 18 goals in 14 games in the season, top scorer in Brazilian football in 2023.

Matheus França gave good dynamics to Flamengo’s right wing, the boy was trying to pull something out of his hat, but it looked like Flamengo had already delivered the points, until Matheus França is launched, gives Felipe Melo a beautiful flick over his head inside the area and kicks for a beautiful defense by veteran Fábio.

After a few moments in the game, at 19 minutes, Fluminense manages to find good passes in the middle, until Cano opens a beautiful ball for Guga on the right, the right back continues with the ball and releases a cross bomb, Santos makes a great defense but the ball is left at Alexsandro’s feet, the boy from Xerém mercilessly drops a left-footed bomb that inflates the nets. 4×0 Fluminense.

Flamengo was still trying to do something in the game but Fluminense wouldn’t let him, Matheus França tried to push the team but his moves had no effect, Ayrton Lucas at 50 of the second half still scores the score, the match ends and Marcanã goes crazy, Fluminense two-time champion in Rio, which had not happened since 1983-1984, who won the third championship in 1985, who knows if Fluzão will not be able to achieve this feat in 2024.

A deserved champion from Fluminense, that demonstrated in the competition a different kind of football, happy and at the same time committed, but above all courageous, to innovate, to find a pass, to make a new dribble to finish and to play his game.

Title celebration. Photo: Mailson Santana/Fluminense FC


Written by João Felipe Miller

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