A match against the Argentina, opponent of Brazil this Sunday, at 4 pm (GMT) for the South American qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, marked the beginning of Gabigol’s career with the national team’s shirt. And the memories aren’t good.
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The current star of Flamengo had bad acting in front of the brothers, in defeat in the third round of the final hexagonal of the South American U-20 of 2015. He and some other teammates even came to be publicly criticized by coach Alexandre Gallo.
Reserve of the team, the forward entered the second half and lost a clear chance inside the area when the duel was still tied 0-0. Shortly after, Argentina managed to score 2-0 in Brazil at the end of the game (Rolón, at 41 , and Contreras, at 44, scored).
If Gallo’s team had won the game, it would have been in a comfortable situation in the competition. After that match, Gallo criticized the entries of Nathan, now at Atlético-MG, and Gabriel, who replaced Gerson (ex-Flemish, at Olympique de Marseille-FRA) and Thalles (ex-Vasco, who died in 2019) in the duel.
“The idea was to join Nathan and Gabriel, two speed athletes, a lot of technique, to qualify our transition. But we don’t develop. The players came in a bit dispersed,” said Gallo after the game.
Gabriel did not come into the next match against Peru and played only the final six minutes of the 3-0 loss to Colombia in the final round of the tournament.
Despite the bad campaign, with only fourth position, Brazil got the last place in the Worlds. Gabigol, who only hit the net once at the South American, ended up being passed over from the most important tournament in the category, months later, in New Zealand.
Brazil, with names like Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) and Andreas Pereira (Flemish), took the runner-up, defeated by Serbia in the decision – Gallo, after announcing the call, was fired, and the selection was led by Rogério Mical.
‘Very big evolution’
Six years after that South American, Gallo still remembers the goal lost by Gabigol, but sees great growth in the forward’s career. Featured in Santos, he failed to triumph in Europe, but became one of the greatest idols in the history of Flamengo, a club he has defended since 2019.
Former Brazilian national team coach granted an exclusive interview to ESPN.com.br
“Gabriel was the most evolved player of all I’ve worked with. He never actually started with me because at the time there was a lot of competition in attack. It amazed him how much he evolved technically and physically because he was physically weaker. It has strengthened the torso too much. He was always an expert in submission, I used to say he was a one-touch player. The way the ball came, he knew how to finish,” Gallo told ESPN.com.br.
Gallo also commanded Gabigol in the under-17 team, when Brazil fell to Mexico in the quarter-finals in the penalty shootout. The striker, who entered the second half, missed the fifth kick, which could have given the classification to Brazil.
“He is an athlete with personality and you need to be flexible. Sometimes he is not understood by his fellows. He was younger than the others, but he was an idol of Santos. But he was a good boy and I met his parents. Sometimes it’s good to work with this type of athlete, you need to pay attention so that you don’t get stuck. His evolution in the base for now was much greater than the others. He took a leap above all,” he said.
Gabigol has 13 games for the Brazilian national team and scored three goals.