Thursday, 19 May 2011

Brasileirão In Focus: Atlético-PR

The fact that they are currently being overshadowed by their city rivals Coritiba is not necessarily a bad thing for Atlético Paranaense. O Furacão (the hurricane) had a very impressive campaign in last year’s Brasileirão, going under the radar for the whole season and finishing in 5th place, missing out on a Copa Libertadores place by only three points.

New manager Adilson Batista has tried his best to hold together the nucleus of last year’s side, and new director of football Alfredo Ibiapina has promised to spare no expense to improve the squad. Some important players left the club at the end of last season, winger Maikon Leite returned to Santos at the end of his loan deal, centre back Rhodolfo was snapped up by São Paulo, defensive midfielder Chico joined Palmeiras, centre forward Bruno Mineiro joined Sport Recife, and 21 year old goalkeeper Neto got a big money move to Fiorentina in Italy.

There have been some good signings, with World Cup winner and ex-Manchester United midfielder Kléberson signing from Flamengo, former Atlético Madrid midfielder Cleber Santana arriving on loan from São Paulo and Robston joining from Atlético Goianiense. These are impressive names for a club of o Furacão’s size, but the fear is that the players that have left have not been sufficiently replaced yet. The directors are still on the hunt for new recruits however, and by the time you read this they may have improved the squad further.

Atlético are a team with more quality than some may realise. Their defence is strong, centre back Manoel in particular is a very talented player, only 21 years old, but with bags of technique and maturity. In front of him, o Furacão have a wealth of choices in the defensive midfield position, and it is such an important position in the Brazilian domestic game. Besides new signings Kléberson, Cleber Santana, Robston and Paulo Roberto, they also have Fransérgio, Deivid, Wendel and Guilherme, all relevant options with something to give to the team.

36 year old Paulo Baier is still o Furacão's primary creative force.

Despite having a team full of youth, potential and secure defensive capabilities, Atlético’s key player comes in the shape of a 36 year old veteran playmaker who goes by the name of Paulo Baier, a wonderful player with great awareness, superb vision and an astounding range of passes. He is also deadly from set-pieces (corner kicks in particular) and is the focal point of almost every Atlético attack. The fact that he never won a national championship in Brazil is a mystery to me, but that’s a story for another day.

The only area where Atlético appear to be lagging behind their peers is up front. The now departed Bruno Mineiro performed an important role for o Furacão last season, and in his absence they seem to lack a central goalscoring figure. The current first choice is Ecuadorian forward Joffre Guerrón, who certainly has talent, but appears to lack the ability to play as a central forward in a 4-5-1, often getting lost and isolated during the game. They have another option in Adaílton, but he seems to suffer from a similar problem. However the apparent emergence of squad player Federico Nieto may be cause for celebration, the huge Argentine front-man has performed well in recent substitute appearances, scoring some important goals.

For the start of the season, I expect Adilson Batista to go with a formation that exclusively plays to the strengths of o Furacão, which means three defensive midfielders and Paulo Baier in a playmaker role. In recent games they have lined up in a 4-3-2-1/4-3-1-2 formation, and I would guess that they will go with the former when they start against Atlético Mineiro at the weekend.

Expected Formation:
football formations


Liz Bullok said...

Blog is showing all regarding the football. Some important players left the club at the end of last season, winger Maikon Leite returned to Santos at the end of his loan deal.

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