PREVIEW: Brazil’s Superliga Quarterfinals – #1 Flamengo v. #3 Vasco da Gama

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This Sunday, November 13 at 2PM local time the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol Americano (CBFA) Superliga quarterfinals features a November showdown between two of Rio’s traditional American football powerhouses. The winner of this Conferencia Leste final gains entry to Brazil’s Final Four.

In the first matchup this season Flamengo beat Vasco by a score of 20-0 (on the same field as this Sunday’s game) in a contest that was not decided until late in the game.

What you need to know: This is a matchup of two of Brazil’s coaching legends in Otavio Roichman (Flamengo) and Gabriel Mendes (Vasco da Gama).

Flamengo has been a juggernaut all season, looking like one of the best in the country on both sides of the ball. Vasco has battled injuries the year but, as usual, found a way to advance past the first round of the playoffs. If history is an indicator, this game will be a thriller.

If Flamengo wins: It’s business as usual for Coach Roichman’s crew, that appears to be on a mission this season. The touchdown-by-committee backfield of Yolandus Pratt, Rafael Garcia and Felipe Florencio continue to run wild, and Brazilian football legend, Quarterback KC Frost, leads drive after scoring drive. Edilson Azevedo and Denis Barros harass Vasco ball-carriers and QB, Daniel Gazelle, from their DE anchors.

ruda-lipe

Ruda Andrade, #13 and Lipe Fernandes, #9, and their Vasco team come into tough rematch with Flamengo with a lot of momentum.

If Vasco wins: Add to the legend of Mendes’ coaching accomplishments this season. This is a team that has been decimated by injuries, had their practice field bulldozed, and is somehow still in the playoffs (along with Portuguesa, the only other team remaining without import players). Daniel Gazelle continues his ascencion to being one of the best young QBs in the country, with accurate passes to Ruda Andrade and Lipe Fernandes, and timely scrambles when needed. The Patriota defense, led by Gabriel Hollyfield, comes up with a big turnover or two.

This guy played against both teams in 2016, here’s what he thinks:

‘’I believe Flamengo will win, but they’ll have to work for it.’’ – Ramon Matire, QB, Botafogo Reptiles

Botafogo Reptiles quarterback, Ramon Matire. Photo credit: Jayson Braga

Botafogo Reptiles quarterback, Ramon Matire. Photo credit: Jayson Braga

AFI asked some of Brazil’s top American football bloggers to pick the first round. See their thoughts on this game below:

bruno-gentil-salaBruno Gentil – Salão Oval

Flamengo – Vasco’s classic win against Vila Velha (in the first round of the playoffs) reminded everyone that the TTD champ from 2014 and runner-up from 2015 is not going away without a good fight. The evolution of Quarterback Daniel Gazelle, in command of the Patriotas’ attack should fill any Patriotas fan with confidence that he will be an impact player on the national scene. Anyone who follows football in Brazil knows that Gabriel Mendes is one of the best coaches in the country, and a great motivator.

Flamengo comes into this game undefeated and several of their players are having the best season of their careers. The two Americans, KC Frost and Yolandus Pratt, are central to the cohesive base of the team, but the highlight is the cast of talent that Otavio Roichman has managed to develop over the past few years.

I was in the last confrontation of Vasco x Flamengo, this year in which Flamengo won. I believe that the same will happen this weekend, with the red & black advancing to the next phase.”

haim-finalHaim Ferreira – Blog Touchdown

Flamengo – With the best offensive line of Brazil and a difference maker at running back, Yolandus Pratt, Flamengo should move the ball on the fragile defense of the Patriotas. Vasco can score, but Flamengo can score more. It’s like a cake recipe – If you join the ingredients, you have the outcome of the game.”

ygormartinghcbrsilYgor Martin – Head Coach Brasil

Flamengo – You better think twice betting against Patriotas. I did it last week, I get it. But, I will do it again this week for a reason. We saw Vasco put 43 on the scoreboard so, yes, their offense can be as powerful as Flamengo’s – and we know how powerful the Flamengo offense is. But, the point here is that Flamengo also have a very powerful D. The best D I have seen this year besides Timbo. While the Vasco offense was busy putting up 43 points, their defense gave up 40 points for a offense (Tritões) that is very good, but not great as the Flamengo one. That’s that reason I think Flamegno beats Vasco.”

overtimefalgoGeraldo Takanage – Overtime do F.A.

Flamengo – Although Vasco has had a great season, with a break out performance by quarterback, Daniel Gazelle, I believe Flamengo wins the game. The duo of Frost and Pratt has been working defenses over all season. I see Flamengo as the strongest candidate for 2016 Superliga Champion.”

Clayton Lovett
Clayton Lovett has served football in Brasil in a variety of roles, including as the member of the coaching staff of two CBFA national champions (Cuiaba Arsenal 2010, 2012). Football is his hobby. Professionally, he is the founder of CS Educacional, which provides educational and competitive opportunities abroad for student-athletes.
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