- Flamengo finish strongly to defeat a resilient Al Hilal in their Club World Cup debut
- Mengao reach final and will face winner of Monterrey-Liverpool
- Goalscorer Giorgian de Arrascaeta says the team's strong mentality was evident
The dictionary defines ‘resilience’ as “the capacity to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change”, and this sums up perfectly what it means to support Flamengo at this moment in time. Because while it is true that the Brazilian side are enjoying a historic season, their matches have certainly put their fans through the mill.
Indeed, they had barely even had time to digest the thrilling comeback victory in the final of the Copa Libertadores when their heroes put them through another emotional rollercoaster in the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019™.
“We showed that we’re a mentally strong team in the way that we went looking for the win,” said Giorgian de Arrascaeta, one of the key men involved in the Rio de Janeiro club’s fightback versus Saudi outfit Al Hilal. A few minutes prior to speaking to FIFA.com, the Uruguay international had been celebrating his team’s win in raucous fashion with the large number of Flamengo fans congregated in Khalifa International Stadium.
“People said we were favourites, but we knew we were going to face a really tough team,” he said. “Keeping our focus for the entire 90 minutes was very important in terms of scoring the goals we required.”
Al Hilal’s goal came just 18 minutes after kick-off, and Flamengo’s inability to find their feet and get into their usual rhythm in the first half was plain for all to see.
Astute tactical adjustments
De Arrascaeta continued with a wry smile: “We all felt a bit frustrated at half-time – we hadn’t got what we wanted. The coach made some solid tactical changes so that we could put in a better showing in the second half.” And those alterations by Jorge Jesus certainly paid dividends, with his charges providing him with the reaction he was looking for.
In the 49th minute, De Arrascaeta equalised for O Rubro-Negro when he received a pass from the influential Bruno Henrique and, finding himself completely unmarked, tapped the ball into the empty net. “We got the quick goal and I think that gave us the push we needed to go and score more,” remarked the attack-minded Uruguayan.
But it was still not an easy task – Flamengo’s fans and players would have to suffer for a little longer. Despite having conceded a leveller, Al Hilal remained resolute in defence and the South Americans had trouble finding a way through. Just when their fans were beginning to contemplate the possibility of extra time, Bruno Henrique made it 2-1 in the 78th minute. Four minutes later, the forward capped off an inspired performance by sending in a tempting cross that led to an unfortunate own goal.
“Bruno Henrique showed what a quality player he is and the great season he’s had with us,” said the Rio Negro-born playmaker. “We’re all very happy for him, because he’s really contributing to the team’s results.”
A glance at De Arrascaeta’s own statistics makes it clear that he has also been one of Flamengo’s top performers over the past year:
- Matches in 2019: 51
- Goals: 18
- Assists: 19
Following this exciting semi-final, the Brazilians are now where they want to be and await with interest to find out who they will take on in Saturday’s high-profile final. “We’ve achieved our objective,” said De Arrascaeta. “We don’t know which team we’re going to play yet, but whoever it ends up being, we’re going to face very difficult, physical, and tactically sound opponents, and we’re going to have to fight to win.”
There will, of course, likely be some more suffering along the way, but the team’s resilience may just see them through in the end.