Brazilian legend Zico - who led Flamingo to victory over Liverpool in the old Intercontinental Cup in 1981 - stated that the Brazilian midfield would be key to repeating the FIFA Club World Cup final today, Saturday.
Zico led his team to a landslide 3-0 victory over Liverpool in the Intercontinental Cup final, and he is optimistic about Flamengo's ability to finish his impressive season by adding the Club World Cup to the Copa Libertadores and the domestic league titles he won last month.
"In one game like tomorrow's final, Flamingo can clinch the title, especially if the team focuses on paralyzing the Liverpool attack trio," said Zico - who is described as one of the best players in the world in the late seventies and early eighties of the last century.
"Flamingo is an excellent team collectively and has a great offensive power. Bruno Henrique, Gabeijol (Gabriel Barbosa) and (Georgian) de Arasaquita scored almost a hundred goals between them throughout the season, so the team's offensive line is strong like Liverpool. But I think Flamingo is distinguished With more creative midfield players. "
|Flamingo at its best this year (Reuters)|
Three Flamengo midfielders - Everton Ribeiro, Gerson and De Arascaita - have been chosen from the best squad in the Brazilian league this year, while Diego, the fourth player, has had a great influence on the team when he takes part.
Flamingo is traditionally one of the biggest clubs in Brazil, but it has starred so much this year and made a series of its most spectacular performances that have dazzled even its fans.
Flamingo has lost just one game since early August last, and has set records in the domestic league this season in terms of total points and average number of goals per game, in addition to the rate of public attendance.
But Liverpool remains the favorite to win the title in Qatar.
The Club World Cup is a more important championship in South America than Europe, and this situation has not changed much in 38 years, when Zico and his fellow international players such as Junior and Leandro Flamingo led to a 3-0 victory over Liverpool and made a great first run.
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Former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenceon recalls how his unprepared squad faced his Brazilian rival after the team, who booked their seats in economy class, flew for 18 hours across Alaska to reach Japan for the match.
"We simply didn't take the match seriously," he told The Times, "The Brazilian players were there ten days ago, trained and adapted to the atmosphere. It was an important tournament for them ... they totally crushed us and Zico was amazing."
Zico remembers the Japanese crowds that day, who were known for their lack of interest in football but attended the match, as well as the cold weather and flamingo light shirts designed to suit the hot tropical climate in Brazil.
Although his old team's victory on Saturday might cover the 1981 achievement, Zico hopes Flamengo will win the title for the second time.
"There is no achievement in football that will last forever. If Flamingo wins, I will celebrate with all the fans of the team. This victory does not mean that what we did will be forgotten," he said.