Curiously, it’s much harder to write a few lines when everything’s running smoothly. Whoa, knock on wood, cross my heart and all that. Let’s not get too excited, nor over confident; when you least expect it, fortune slaps you in the face. Hard.
But there’s no denying: Palmeiras is doing great. Scolari has done what was expected of him: he’s taken the odd pieces, polished them where needed and where possible, talked them through it, trained and trained and trained again. In addition, a few players have arrived and a couple more will be arriving, most notoriously Maikon Leite to boost offensive quality. We need a fullback to replace Danilo in a couple of months time. But that’s it. We have a team. A complete team. A team that is doing great. 21 official games, only eight goals suffered. Saturday’s 2-0 against Grêmio Prudente was Verdão’s 13th game without a loss (watch the highlights below). This is primarily the work of one man, one of the world’s best coaches: Luis Felipe Scolari.
You see, even dreaded Mustafá is barking less up every tree, as people seem to be paying much less attention to his doomsday preaching anyway. Especially as it has became clear – even to the most evil-minded saboteurs – that the New Arena is a great deal for everyone involved and, in particular, Palmeiras. Avanti Palestra!
As reported in today’s 3VV bulletin, Palmeiras have defined player bonuses in case of success in the Paulistão and /or the Copa do Brasil. That’s not only good news per se, but again proof of vice-president Mr. Frizzo’s surprisingly steady hand. The deal was closed without fuzz, without comments in the press. As of late, Palmeiras’ directors are working silently and efficiently: something we palmeirenses are not too familiar with. Let’s hope the good trend continues.
— ooo —
With only one round to go in the Paulistão before the knockout phase, the stage is more or less set. Palmeiras finish first or second, with only São Paulo in any condition to threaten our pole position. In any case, the scenario is as follows: in the quarter-finals, Palmeiras will face Portuguesa, São Caetano or Americana. The game will take place at the Pacaembu stadium and there will be no second leg. In case of a draw: penalty shootout.
Palmeiras going through to the semi-finals, the fourth placed in the knockout phase await (given that the fourth placed team have not lost their quarter-final game against the fifth placed team); it could be Corinthians but will most likely be Santos. Thus, our opponent in the finals – decided in a home and away game - should be either Corinthians or São Paulo.
— ooo —
Before the final game in the first round of the Paulistão coming Sunday, Palmeiras on Wednesday face Santo André in a first bout in the group of 16 of the Brazilian Cup. The game takes place at the Bruno José Daniel stadium – in Santo André – with the second leg at the Pacaembu stadium on the 21th. In the Paulistão, Santo André need a miracle in order to escape from the second division: victory against Corinthians while Ituano and Noroeste no more than draw their games and São Bernardo or Linense lose theirs. It will be interesting to see if Santo André will come 100 per cent focused against Palmeiras on Wednesday, or if Sunday’s game will be there luring somewhere in the player’s minds. In any case, with key players like Valdivia, Kleber and Cicinho back, Palmeiras should be able to impose their superiority and win comfortably.