Palmeiras travelled to Minas Gerais, facing an opponent in a similar, bad, situation. Atlético – on paper a rather strong team and counting on a couple of players with experience from the Brazilian national team – is going through a rough phase and only a victory today would lift it out of the relegation zone. Thus, tension on both sides, as Palmeiras also needed an expressive result in order to forget last Thursday’s shameful exhibition. Adding to the drama we find that Atlético is led by former Palmeiras coach Vanderley Luxemburgo, who left Palmeiras in a less than friendly manner in June 2009. A similar exit had midfielder Diego Souza – former Palmeiras and now Atlético player – in May this year.
Thus, we saw two teams desperately looking for a victory to boost morale, both internally and in relation to supporters, and turn the tide. This resulted in a game with pace, many opportunities and a lot of heart. In short, the good news (apart from the victory, of course) is that Valdivia and Kléber are clearly starting to get more familiarised with each other on the pitch. Valdivia suffered in today’s game, as the Atlético players took turns giving him a hard time, with the referee failing to take action. Marcos Assunção also had an inspired afternoon, scoring one goal and serving Kléber up for the second. Watch the extended highlights below.
Today’s result leaves Palmeiras with 23 points at 9th position, only four points behind the last of the top four: Fluminense, Corinthians, Santos and Internacional. Next game takes place in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday 1 September, against leader Fluminense.