In Brazilian football, the “starting 11” is no longer relevant.

The first significant transfer of the Brazilian summer transfer season is Renato Augusto to Fluminense. More so due to the caliber of the new tricolor midfield player than the sheer quantity of players engaged. “What will be the starting team?” is one of the numerous instances of how pointless the popular football question is, and his arrival is only another example.

It makes sense. We “hierarchize” athletes into starters and reserves as part of our sports culture. Put an almost constant stamp on every athlete. As it happens, there are fewer and fewer instances of this kind in this area; this is a global phenomenon that is already happening.

We have the worst calendar among the most relevant football countries. In a nation of continental dimensions, irregular pitches, and very diverse climatic conditions, there is more playing and at shorter intervals than anywhere else. And there is no forecast for this scenario to improve.

Within this reality, does it seem reasonable to define a starting team from “1 to 11”? There is not even a champion team that has repeated the same lineup sequentially for at least 30% of the competition. In addition to the natural technical and tactical fluctuations, which generate changes by choice, there is the inevitable wear and tear, injuries, and suspensions.

We take the current two-time national champion Palmeiras as an example. Even with the new tactical format designed by Abel Ferreira in the last ten rounds of the competition, there were variations. Marcos Rocha or Luan in the defense trio is an example. And Fluminense himself, Libertadores champion. Is it possible to say that John Kennedy is a reserve? Or that Martinelli is an absolute starter?

Leaving Brazil this issue becomes even clearer. What is the starting lineup for world champion Argentina in 2022? Molina and Montiel took turns on the right. Tagliafico and Marcos Acuña on the left. Di Maria played several roles in the attack. He was in and out of the team. Lautaro Martinez and Julian Alvarez alternate in the Albiceleste front line or can even play together.

Manchester City, champion of almost everything in the last European season, is yet another example. It is necessary to abolish the narrative that only the repetition of a single starting lineup generates unity and harmony in a team. We don’t work like that anymore.

The proper functioning of a team today comes from the players’ ability to understand a philosophy sought by the coach, and also from the potential for persuasion and mastery of daily tools so that athletes can absorb such concepts. The “collectives” lasting more than an hour between starters and reserves are over.

It has become increasingly clear that it is necessary to have a group of between 15 and 16 main players in a squad, and they will form different teams according to the strategy outlined for each game, the physical moment of the season, and the marriage of characteristics within the team itself. team or fit with the opponent.

Understanding this means proposing debates and questions that are more in line with the football that is played today, whether for those who work professionally with the sport or for those who are fans, but seek to understand in more depth the decisions made within their team. It is necessary to let go of dogmas that no longer make any practical sense.

Will Renato be a starter at Fluminense? If there is a coach in Brazil who has already proven that he can bring together players with less physical power at this point in their career, at the same time in a team, it is Fernando Diniz.

But the interpretation of the arrival of the historic Corinthians midfielder at Tricolor is not that. It is that Fluminense expands and qualifies its group of “usable” in important games, adding even more to the characteristics that its coach preaches for the team.




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