As we enter a decisive couple of weeks, my glass is always half full. I have no patience for discussions on what our squad lacks, who should be given the boot and who should be signed for 2016. I am here and now, only interested in what can be done to extract the outmost of our squad – on an individual and collective basis. Marcelo Oliveira’s time is now. Palmeiras’ time is now.
As for classicos, this was one of Palmeiras’ worst in 2015. Fluminense dominated the first half fair and square, although things could have been different had Gabriel Jesus’ header been on target. With 2-0 on the scorecard, Oliveira regrouped in halftime, as habitual promoting Egídio on the left flank, allowing Zé Roberto a more centralised playmaker role. Victor Ramos gave way to Jackson (Vitor Hugo and Jackson must be our central lock) and a little later, Rafael Marques went on for Allione, Palmeiras already having diminished the gap through a penalty converted by Zé Roberto. With a much more open affair as of that, both teams created numerous chances. At the whistle, supporters from both sides cried foul – ours due to a goal by Amaral ruled out for offside, theirs for that penalty they claim never existed. Personally, I found the end result in compliance to what the two teams brought to the game.
Expect a feverish Allianz Parque upcoming Wednesday. By the regulations of the Brazil Cup, yesterday´s away goal means Palmeiras are through to the finals if beating the tricolor carioca 1-0. If the end result reads 2-1, penalties. Should Fluminense score twice before fulltime, Palmeiras need to brace four. Expect Robinho back in the starting eleven. For Fluminense, the major question mark concerns striker Fred, yesterday leaving the pitch just before halftime with severe discomfort to the knee.
However, first Palmeiras welcome Sport on Saturday and Marcelo Oliveira has already signalled his intention of using a mixed squad. Sport have struggled with away games, showing a much better track record at home, as for example last week’s 4-1 thrashing of runner-up Atlético Mineiro. Oliveira has some difficult decisions to make, striking the right balance. It worked against Avaí. Sport is a much tougher nut. But then again, we have the theoretical advantage of playing at home. I can nothing but look at that half-full cup and smile.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!