Fla-Flu. If you haven’t seen one, you have not yet experienced football.
There was a lot of expectation built up for this Fla-Flu. While Botafogo and Vasco played the first derby of the year, Flamengo and Fluminense was the more expected game of the beginning of the year. Fluminense, for the miracle they performed last year escaping relegation, and Flamengo, last year’s National Champion, promised a great spectacle. And they didn’t disappoint.
The first 10 minutes of the game where even, with a slight dominance by us. But the Fluminense is really young, really fast and our defense, while experienced, is old and slow. Alan moved faster than our defender to score Flu 1×0 Fla.
The goal destroyed our team. Fluminense played easily, sliding between our defenders like they weren’t there. And when they were, the Fluminense kids would dive, and that’s how they got the ref to give them a penalty shot. Conca didn’t wasted it – Flu 2×0 Fla.
Flamengo went on, trying to attack, but with Petkovic in a bad day, and a midfield weak in defensive power, didn’t scare much the Fluminense goalie, and left Bruno absolutely open, fending for himself. It was a bad strategy, but it wielded results, with Juan getting tackled in the Fluminense box. A penalty that Adriano did not waste either, Flu 2×1 Fla. We were back in the game.
But only for a minute. Fluminense went to the attack once more and, with the help of Lady Luck, scored a third goal, burying the hope of any kind of reaction in the first half. Both teams went to half-time, but only one thought the game was over.
Come second half and Andrade make two substitutions that woulkd change the story of the game. He takes out Petkovic (tired and out of shape) and put in Vinicius Pacheco. And he took out Fernando (a decent midfielder, just a shitty defensive midfielder) and put in the unstoppable Williams. Flamengo woke up. At the 5th minute, Vinicius sent a warning shot that hit the post so hard that its seemed to scratch the paint out of it. Then, at the 6th, Williams crossed a ball into the box, where it bounced around for a while, until Vágner Love shoved it mercilessly into the Fluminense net. Flu 3×2 Fla. They should have noticed what was happening.
So, at the 8th minute, Vinicius crossed another ball into the Flu box. This one pass through everybody, until Kleberson the Pentacampeão* kicked it with such strength that you barely saw the ball moving until it was inside the net. Flu 3×3 Fla.
That could have been it. It would give enough ammunition for Flamenguistas to make fun of tricolores the next day. But this is Flamengo, and with Flamengo, there is always more and is never easy. Alvaro, our fullback, got a second yellow card, and got sent off when the tide was in our favor. That emboldened Fluminense, and they came, disorganized and wild, to the attack, while Flamengo held their own. Playing possum and waiting for the chance to kill them.
Until, in a lighting fast counterattack started by Vagner Love (who was, at this point playing everywhere in the field, from fullback to center-forward), the ball landed in front of Adriano, who had only the work of tapping it in. Flu 3×4 Fla. The horror in the Fluminense’s fans faces was not visible, as they slowly started to trail off the stadium.
But, in this brutal class-war that is FlaxFlu, we must hurt them as much as possible. Fluminense’s defense was badly positioned all the way in the midfield; Adriano was not offsides, but for a hair; and Vinicius Pacheco had the ability to realize that and pass a sweet, sweet ball to Adriano, leaving him all the Fluminense’s field with nobody but the goalie. Unforgiven, he score, as Maracanã was finally cleansed of the stench of “the elite”. and us, Black, Brown and Red, celebrated our home once more for ourselves.
Because against them, victory always taste sweeter.
*Pentacampeão= Five times champion. Kleberson’s nickname is an allusion to him being in the Brazil squad in 2002 that won the fifth World Cup for Brazil.