Every morning, at nine o'clock, Sylvinho (49) and his technical team appear at the office of the Albanian Football Federation in Tirana, and they all analyze things together.
Yes, a 4-3-3, a system that he had implemented in his first commitments as Albanian coach.
Yes, a 4-2-3-1, which is the system that Sylvinho applies today, at least at the beginning of the games.
The talks are intense as is Sylvinho, a coach determined to bring light to a country chronically in shadow.
(This same week, conservative deputies lit flares in the Albanian Parliament, unnerved by the blockade suffered by the 2024 budget; episodes like this will not facilitate their long-awaited access to the European Union).
In that office in Tirana, Sylvinho talks about the divine and the human.
He speaks quickly and in five languages (Portuguese, Italian, English, Spanish and even Albanian, a language he already knows despite having only been in office for ten months).
And his colleagues listen to him.
And, if necessary, they refute him.
Doriva listens to him, who was a midfielder for Celta in the days when Sylvinho was a left back and Mostovoi, Karpin, Catanha, Giovanella, Gustavo López and Juanfran also played, what a player that Celta was. And Pablo Zabaleta, who shone for Espanyol, City and West Ham, also listens to him: both Doriva and Zabaleta are Sylvinho's subordinates, the Brazilian who in a flash, happy in his presence and in his concept of football, has elevated a country in political and economic crisis to the Eurocup next summer.
Everything that Sylvinho gives to Albanian football, a football that returns to the elite (he will be in the final phase next summer, repeating the feat of 2016), he has absorbed as a young man. When he played short, when he was an electric full-back with a tendency to cut inwards, as fast as he was sparkling, Sylvinho was the first to offer to negotiate with the referee if things got ugly.
For years, in those short days, Sylvinho had been the extension on the pitch of Víctor Fernández, Lotina, Rijkaard, Guardiola, Mancini, Parreira, Zagallo or Wenger (how much football wisdom is concentrated in those names). His record includes three League titles, two Champions League titles and one World Cup.
And now, everything he had learned on the field of play, he shares.
The diaspora torments Albanian society, pressured by its lack of manpower, but not the national team team, which is nourished by the knowledge obtained beyond its borders.
Kumbulla plays for Roma.
Asllani, at Inter.
Broja, at Chelsea.
Bajrami, at Sassuolo.
There are also Albanian footballers in Spain: this is the case of Keidi Bare (Espanyol) and Myrto Uzuni (Granada).
And all that conglomerate of talent distributed between the Premier, Serie A and LaLiga has converged in a project as interesting as it is dizzying. Albania builds football in its defensive version. Sylvinho's eleven dances on the fly. In a single match, he can go from 5-4-1 to 5-3-2 or 4-3-3, and all this without replacing a single player. Albania is relatively modest, but Sylvinho wants the ball.
After their inconsequential draw in Tirana against the Faroe Islands (0-0), Sylvinho's Albania has closed its journey through the qualifying phase as leader of Group E, with fifteen points, ahead of the Czech Republic, Lewandowski's Poland , the Moldovan team and the Faroes themselves, a marvel for a school with little international presence and a fact that was unthinkable just fifteen years ago.