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Luiz Barreto, 1952: The two tactics of Brazilian football

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-05-04 16:52:46

Data providers: Isaque Argolo.
Luiz Carlos Barreto | 1952

This report is a kind of class given to the public by the two great national coaches — Flávio says: "Modern football no longer supports improvisations" — On the other hand, Zezé says: "In football there are no mysteries, but it is necessary to plan the game" — The history of systems — From Chapman and Kürschner to the present day.

To score more goals and concede fewer goals, that is the question, the problem, the being or not being of football through the ages. In order to find a way out of this state of affairs, the Breton sport has evolved, going through several stages, until reaching our days, when the schematization, the game discipline with its so-called systems and tactics seem to be the ideal solution. Chapman, an English coach of late memory, was the first man to try to systematize football. Like all forerunners, he was called mad and rudely fought. He didn't give up, however, clinging to his ideas as only true revolutionaries know how to do.
Izidor Kürschner, Hungarian by birth, was a disciple of Chapman who emigrated to Brazil around 1937. He fought in Flamengo and Botafogo. He had no doubts about putting Chapman's ideas into practice in our country. Fighted by some, applauded by others, Kürschner worked and fought without looking back. That's why he won. He put order, disciplined the hitherto empirical Brazilian football. And he did more: he created a school, he left disciples. It was through these disciples that his ideas continued to live, taking shape and definitive form.
Within Kürschner's academy, improving his experience, over time, two masters stood out and gained fame in the national football scene: Flávio Costa ("Alicate") and Alfredo Moreira Júnior ("Zezé").
Flávio Costa was the first to appear. Having lived with the famous Hungarian coach, when he passed through Flamengo, he assimilated Kruschner's teachings and then, perfecting them, applied them in practice. What did Flávio Costa do? This question can be answered by Alicate, a famous coach, who since 1939 has become the biggest collector of titles, organizer of selections — Carioca and Brazil. He rose to such an enviable position putting his head to work and working hard. He adopted a tactical system that emerged from his studies and observations about the "qualities and characteristics, typical of the Brazilian player", as he says. The system he adopted had good effects and became the general rule throughout the country. Based on Chapman and Kruschner's "third quarterback" principle, Flávio Costa created his own tactical system. He didn't bother to name his idea, but others did and called Flavio's system diagonal. The name caught on in such a way that the way was to make it official.
But what is the diagonal? There has been no shortage of those who doctrine and give a chair around the subject, while the public remains the same. For this very reason, O CRUZEIRO Magazine decided to do this report, which, above all, has only an elucidative character, not only of the diagonal, but also of the other discussed system of marking by zone, adopted by the second great disciple of Kruschner, the efficient Zezé Moreira , which we have already referred to at the beginning of these notes.
Zezé currently has Fluminense F.C. under his direction. Before that, in 1948 and part of 1949, he coached the Botafogo team, of which he had been an outstanding player. Despite his short time as a team coach, he has distinguished himself. He won 4 significant titles (1948, Carioca champion — 1951, Carioca champion — 1952, Pan-American champion and Copa Rio champion).
About the diagonal, Flávio Costa explains:
Flávio Costa: Modern football no longer supports improvisation. And when I realized this, I tried to systematize and adopt a game discipline. Studying and observing, I came to the conclusion that the Brazilian player, possessing his own characteristics, juggler par excellence, of great mobility, would not adapt to a rigid system. At the same time I understood the need to establish a rigorous marking system in which defenders did not stray too far from opposing attackers. So I adopted tight marking, based on the "third quarterback", different, however, from Chapman's orthodox theory, according to which the man who retreats to complete the line of full-backs is the centre-half. I arranged things differently. I retreated a wing half-back, who has the function of marking one of the opposing wingers; and, while one of the defenders marks the centre-forward, the other must mark the other winger. That leaves the centre-half and a wing half-back. These two elements are responsible for marking the opposing insiders, while at the same time supporting offensive actions.
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A representation of diagonal.
» This is about the defensive part. But no system can only predict the defense game. The main thing, in fact, is to defend yourself well so you can attack better. Naturally, the attack is based on the rear. Therefore, one of the forwards plays deep (one of the insiders) doing the work of coordinating plays between attack and defense. This is the man we will call the meia de ligação, to identify with the language of the fan. This meia de ligação is, however, an forward like the others. There are other men who have a specific role within the system. There is an insider that doesn't back down like the other and that popular wisdom called him the ponta de lança. But I prefer to call this player "the goal man".
Finally, the Flamengo coach says:
Flávio Costa: Alongside this, other observational details come in and plans change according to the circumstances of each football match. The main thing, however, is to reach the desired point. For this, it is necessary to have the power of execution and the ability to carry out those directed.
"zonal marking doesn't exist," said Zezé Moreira, when we started our conversation with him. And he added:
Zezé: The system I use is the "third full-back", pure and unmixed. Naturally, it differs from tight marking, as the men from the rear make the defense by covering sectors. As for the framework of the system, I didn't innovate the "third full-back". I kept the classical and orthodox formation. A line of three defenders garnishing the penalty area, two half-backs and nothing else. These men are arranged in such a way as to make it as difficult as possible for the opponent to reach the goal. It is evident that there is a pre-established plan. Therefore, half-backs have the function of getting around obstructing opponents' plays. Such men generally act by dividing the field into two sides. They carry out the mission of obstructing and building. They usually receive the help of a insider, who plays deep, working more or less, as an ad hoc centre-half. The three full-backs have the mission of guarding the area.
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A representation of zonal marking.
Zezé takes up the word and continues:
Zezé: They say that the system adopted by me is purely defensive. I do not think so. This is because when I field the teams I manage, I outline my offensive plans, which generally have good effects. Here are the facts to prove it. I have achieved victories and I see no reason to be disillusioned with my convictions regarding the system they call "zonal marking". The day I am convinced of the ineffectiveness of my methods, I will be the first to take another path. For now there is no reason to do so. I only have reasons to remain consistent with my convictions.
And, finishing:
Zezé: In football there are no mysteries. Simplicity is really the basis of this sport. And I say more: every system is good, depending on the quality of its performers. But I also warn those who may be interested: the tactic called "zonal marking" will still live a long time and will certainly obtain new triumphs. It's no use burning Judas with my name, because only if they burn me will they get rid of me and my system.