Friday, 20 May 2011

Brasileirão In Focus: Botafogo

Now we go on to the first out of the four grandes do Rio de Janeiro, Botafogo. A very traditional club with a lot of history, twice national champions, and was the home to such greats as Garrincha and Jairzinho. In recent years, the team has been performing fairly well but without reaching any grand heights. Joel Santana recently left his post as manager after 15 months in charge (a relatively long stint in Brasileirão terms) under strong pressure and criticism from the supporters, but since he took charge Botafogo have evolved in to an attractive attacking side.

Last year they ended up in sixth position after a fairly impressive campaign, during which they lost only one home match at the Engenhão. Since then there have not been very many changes in personnel, 21 year old Thiago Galhardo joined from Bangu and defensive midfielder Arévalo Rios was signed from Mexican side Monterrey, covering for the exit of Leandro Guerreiro who signed for Cruzeiro.

Botafogo have a squad with all of the makings of a title challenge, but they do not appear to be unified enough to construct such an assault. They play the traditional Brazilian 4-4-2 (shaped like 4-2-2-2), and are characterized by a strong spine, from national team goalkeeper Jefferson right through to Uruguayan talismanic forward Sebastian ‘Loco’ Abreu. Centre back Antônio Carlos provides quality in the defense, also he can be counted on for a few goals from set pieces throughout the season.

Moving in to the midfield, Marcelo Mattos and ‘Mago’ Maicosuel really give this side a great injection of quality. Marcelo Mattos is a defensive midfielder, mature, effective and a good passer of the ball, he is very valuable to the balance and tempo of the side. Maicosuel is an attacking midfielder, good dribbler, great touch, and capable of moments of real magic (which explains his nickname, mago = magician). He suffered a pretty serious knee injury in September and is only now returning to the team, and to announce his return he scored a fabulous solo goal in a recent friendly against Friburguense, giving the supporters something to look forward to this season.

Up front, the 193cm Uruguayan striker Sebastián ‘Loco’ Abreu leads the line. A truly fabulous character, he has become known worldwide after scoring the penalty kick that eliminated Ghana in the 2010 World Cup. The technique he uses to take his penalties, a gentle chip down the middle of the goal (known in Brasil as a “cavadinha”, a little dig) lead to a particularly bizarre event last season during a clássico against Fluminense, which completely defined his cult status.

In the second half of the clássico, trailing 2x1, Botafogo won a penalty which Loco Abreu took, a cavadinha as usual, but it was saved by the Fluminense goalkeeper. However, only two minutes later, Botafogo won another penalty. Loco Abreu grabbed the ball again, and with nerves of steel, hit another cavadinha, which this time beat the goalkeeper.

Alongside el Loco, they have the option of Caio and Herrera, both useful strikers who can bring something different to the attack depending on the situation.

Expected Formation:
football formations


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