Aventuras Américas | Part 40 | Flamengo #1: New Manager Bounce

We’re now onto club 11 on this journey, so a few bookmarks for previous teams might be helpful. Feel free to begin the Aventuras Américas journey at the job hunt stage, club 1 Puerto Montt, club 2 Universidad Católica, club 3 New York Red Bulls, club 4 River Plate Montevideo, club 5 América de Cali, club 6 Alianza Lima, club 7 Puebla FC, club 8 Palmeiras, club 9 FC Edmonton, club 10 Newell’s Old Boys and club 11 Flamengo.

Nearly two decades ago, a 37-year-old hombre left the streets of Medellín behind with the ambitious goal of becoming a real-life Football Manager. Now, in the summer of 2040, Robinho Lazaró had more than achieved that goal, adding the Argentinian title to those won in Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, México, Peru, the United States of America and Uruguay.

His next challenge was to add the Copa Libertadores to the Copa Sudamericana title he won at Alianza Lima in 2031. But, with a fairly heavy heart, he came to the assessment that Godoy Cruz was not the place to achieve that challenge. So when the mighty Flamengo came calling, he jumped at the opportunity, especially as it would appease his Rio-dwelling father who was a massive Flamengo fan.

Who are Flamengo?

Clube de Regatas do Flamengo is a Rio de Janeiro cluib that has 12 Série A titles and two Copa Libertadores wins to its name. However, it hasn’t been Brazilian champion since 2026 (14 years) and not won Libertadores since 2019. It’s widely considered the most valuable and most popular club in Brazil with 40.2 million supporters around the world.

The club started out in 1895 as a rowing club, which played its first official football match in 1912. The football side of Flamengo started when a group of 10 dissatisfied Fluminense players started a new club following a despite with their board.

The club’s legends include the likes of one of Brazil’s all-time greatest players Zico – who holds the outrageous club record of 81 goals in a season in 1979 – and Romário, who they signed from Barcelona when he was the current World Player of the Year. They’ve also employed the likes of Ronaldinho and Adriano, two of Lazaró’s favourite Brazilians Gabriel Barbosa – who’s the all-time top scorer with 281 league goals – and Vágner Love, and record league appearances holder Talles Magno (679). While recent real-life youth products include Vinicius Junior, Lucas Paqueta and Lazaró’s former player Lázaro.

Flamengo has major rivalries with local sides Fluminense, Vasco da Gama, Botafogo and a competitive rivalry with Lazaró’s former club Palmeiras. They also have rivalries with Corinthians, Santos and Atlético Mineiro. They play at the impressive 78,838-capacity Maracaná and have exceptional youth recruitment, excellent academy coaching, superb training facilities and great youth facilities.

Lazaró’s new club want him to play attacking football, sign players aged under 23 and qualify for Copa Libertadores through Série A. The finances are slightly better than he’s been accustomed to lately, with £12 million in the bank. However, he only has a transfer budget of £1.5 million.

After 16 of 38 games, Flamengo are way down in ninth in Série A, eight points behind leaders Santos, and have been demoted to the Copa Sudamericana. Last season, they missed out on the Brazilian title by two points to Santos and won Copa Sudamericana.

Meet the Flamengo squad

The best player at Flamengo is Czech midfielder Frantisek Stovicek, whose attributes look outrageous, along with right-back/winger Célio Carlos, who Lazaró had been eyeing up when he was at Palmeiras. Other key players include defender José Mário, right-back Federico Quiroga, midfielder Joiner Rojas, strikers Maicon and Gustavo Britos, midfielder Damián Parisi and Serbian goalkeeper Sasa Mucibabic.

The best prospects at the club are three 16-year-olds in attacking midfielder Ailson, left-back Cosminho and right-back Eduardo José. Other top talents include Nathan, who Lazaró had on loan at Godoy last season and attackers Vitinho, Rodolfo and, intriguingly, the new Brenner… Brener.

Having assessed the players available to him, Lazaró initially decided to go with the 4-3-1-2 approach that served him well at Godoy but also toyed with the idea of a wider 4-2-3-1.

A tough start to life back in Brazil

Lazaró had a tough reintroduction to Brazilian football, starting with a home league game against Corinthians, a Copa Sudamericana clash with former club América de Cali and early clashes with all the Brazilian big boys.

But his reign started well as Carlos and 6ft 5in attacking midfielder Cabecao scored in a 2-0 win over Corinthians then a wild 3-3 draw in Colombia against his former club earned progression to the quarter-finals. He got a win at struggling CSA then drew 2-2 at Sao Paulo in Lazaró’s 900th match in management. The strong start continued with wins over Cuiabá and at Vasco, which saw Flamengo climb to within one point of second-place after one month of Lazaró’s reign!

Big top of the table clashes

Flamengo suffered a mass of injuries and suspensions alongside international call-ups but managed to come through a tough spell in second place. A tough spell of games saw them earn a 2-2 with third-place Ceará then beat fourth-place Internacional 2-1 away led by Britos and Parisi goals.

That built up to a huge game at home to leaders Santos. Flamengo again came out flying and Parisi curled home a beauty after 18 minutes. Santos then had a player sent off for an awful challenge three minutes later and the floodgates opened as Rojas and Maicon made it three inside half an hour. Santos got one back and Cabecao idiotically equalled the numbers up but Maicon doubled his tally to wrap up a thumping 4-1 victory and send Flamengo top of the league with 10 games remaining!

Copa Sudamericana

Flamengo nicked a 1-1 draw at América Mineiro before two screamers from full-backs Célio Carlos and Luciano sent them through to the semi-finals.

Another Brazilian opponent lay in wait in the semis as they took on Internacional. The home leg was up first and Flamengo dominated with 17 shots to three, of which none were on target. But the hosts didn’t make it count until Britos headed home a Maicon cross in the 90th minute. And that proved enough as a 2-2 draw in the away leg sent them through to the final.

And guess who they faced in the Sudamericana Final? Lazaró’s former club Palmeiras! How sweet an occasion this promised to be.

Série A title race

A 14-match unbeaten streak ended at Ponte Preta but Flamengo had pretty much sealed the board’s expectation of qualifying for Copa Libertadores. However, wins over Lazaró’s former club Palmeiras and rivals Fluminense saw them keep pace with Santos, who were in outrageously good form.

Flamengo started the run-in with Britos scoring both goals in a 2-0 win at Avaí as Palmeiras did their former boss a favour by drawing 1-1 with Santos. But Flamengo handed the advantage back as eight of their first 11 were out through international call-ups and injuries and they drew 2-2 at Fortaleza.

They bounced back to beat Gremio 3-1 led by Britos, Stovicek and Parisi goals, on the same day as Santos lost the Libertadores final 2-0 to Boca. That left them two points behind with two games to play. Flamengo had a crazy 4-4 draw at Corinthians before Santos won 3-2 at Fluminense to wrap up the title.

Ridiculously, Santos lost one of their final 24 league games and eventually won the league by six points. But Lazaró was pretty happy with the job he’d done to lead Flamengo to second, a huge 12 points clear of Corinthians. Elsewhere, both Atlético Mineiro and Fluminense were relegated!

Continental final against Palmeiras!

Lazaró led his new Flamengo charges into battle against his former side Palmeiras with South America’s second biggest cup on the line. Palmeiras still had the likes of Longoni, Patryck, Mehri and Bernardo starting with Romário and Gedeil on the bench. Lazaró went with the lineup of:

Mucibabic; Carlos, Mário, Giordano, Luciano; Stovicek, Rojas, Vitinho; Cabecao; Esperedioni, Britos
Subs: Maicon, Sansolini, Lorival, Luiz, Ovalle, Iago, Nathan, Guimaraes, Kayo

Both sides missed half-chances in a poor first half. But Palmeiras scored a few minutes after the break and, despite having more shots and xG, Flamengo couldn’t find an equaliser. Lazaró had to watch his former club lift the big trophy, but he’d already won it before with Alianza Lima, so wasn’t too bothered.

Brazil comes calling

Away from domestic matters, Lazaró was also offered the ultimate Football Manager opportunity as Brazil came calling following a poor Copa America campaign. The national team offered him £42,000-per-week, which was six times greater than his wage at Flamengo. The new role will see Lazaró double up on domestic and international duties, so we’ll cover the Brazil job in separate blogs.

The main news to take away from this season is that Flamengo are back in the Copa Libertadores, which is the sole domestic aim remaining on Lazaró’s list. Although he would enjoy ending Santos’ newfound dominance.

Join us next time as Robinho Lazaró attempts to bring glory to his second Brazilian club Flamengo!

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