Strengthen the defense or privilege the attack? This became the main dilemma for Fábio Carille to define the Santos team that faces Corinthians, tomorrow (21), at 4 pm, at the Neo Química Arena, for the Brazilian Championship. The doubt corresponds exactly to a place in midfield. Everything indicated that Camacho would return to the title, but the offensive actions provided by the presence of Gabriel Pirani could be decisive for the team’s selection in the derby.
In the last round, with a deeper squad available, Carille opted for a reinforced midfield, even playing at Vila Belmiro, against the already relegated Chapecoense. Camacho and Vinícius Zanocelo split in the protection of the defense, giving Felipe Jonatan freedom to advance. With more players in midfield contention, there was also the possibility that wingers Madson and Marcos Guilherme would have more freedom in attack.
In practice, however, little of this was seen. Santos was confused for most of the first half and came under pressure from Chapecoense. Opened the scoring thanks to a penalty committed unnecessarily by defender Jordan and did not produce to do much more than that. Marinho, who played until the 37th minute and had to leave the field due to an injury, and Tardelli, almost didn’t show up where they really needed to: in the area.
The lackluster performance made coach Fábio Carille touch his pieces during the first half, even without making substitutions. Felipe Jonatan, who looked confused in his offensive attempts, returned to his left-back origin. Marcos Guilherme, a forward, started to act in front of defensive midfielders, where he shone for some matches in this dash for Peixe. Even so, Santos could not contain the momentum of Chapecoense, who only failed to draw the match before the break thanks to good saves by João Paulo.
On his return for the second half, Carille resumed the tactical scheme that had been successful in previous rounds, such as the victories over Fluminense and Red Bull Bragantino. Camacho gave way to Gabriel Pirani, but this change ended up messing with the entire tactical system. Marcos Guilherme returned to being a left wing, while Felipe Jonatan started to act side by side with Zanocelo, in defense protection, where he had already distinguished himself.
Still, Santos found it difficult to impose their pace against a fearless opponent. But although they had fewer marking pieces, Carille’s team seemed more organized. Up front, Pirani was not the same one who had shone against Bragantino, but his positioning ended up making the difference. As he is a movement player, he made it easier for Peixe to go on the attack. And the winning goal came in an unexpected one-two: a cross from Pirani to Marcos Guilherme -on the wing- finish as a center forward.
The various changes during the match were even commented on by Carille after facing Chape. “We’ve been looking for ideas. And the important thing is that the players are doing their best to do well regardless of their roles. I’m very happy with the start of this moment,” explained the coach.
To face Corinthians, Lucas Braga will return to the left wing almost certainly. As Felipe Jonatan was one of the highlights of the team in this run, which had four victories in six matches, there is only one spot left in midfield. It could be disputed by Camacho, Pirani and even Marcos Guilherme. But as Marinho still doesn’t have a confirmed squad due to a muscle injury, Marcos Guilherme is also a player quoted to play in attack alongside Tardelli.
Carille’s dilemma is established from the moment Santos reached the third best defense of the second round – that is, since he took charge of the team. Considered an expert on the subject, Peixe has spent nine of the 14 games in conceding a goal and has an average of 0.78 goals conceded per match. In attack, on the other hand, the performance is poor, with ten goals scored under his management in competition.
With 42 points, Santos starts the round in 12th place. The team from Vila Belmiro has a six-point advantage over Bahia, which opens the relegation zone. Although the bill seems loose, Carille has already declared that he still expects more for the rest of the Brasileirão. “It’s an important number, but not a definitive one. We know you need more. We’re starting at an important moment,” said the coach, who will make his first game against the club for which he gained notoriety in the profession.
And the first meeting with Corinthians shows that it will not be a common game for Carille. “I’m very grateful and I know that my history at Corinthians was very beautiful, with eight titles as assistant and four more as coach. I left through the front door. And now I’m looking for my happiness here at Santos, working hard for me to win here too. I think the reunion will be very smooth, but only inside to understand all this.”