Hi there, top dogs. Monday surely has a better taste to it with Palmeiras in the lead, wouldn’t you agree? With three rounds left before the knockout phase, things are looking brighter by the day.
Saturday’s three points against Bragantino confirmed the good moment the team are experiencing, although it was far from a slaughter the numbers might have you believe. Actually, Bragantino did put some pressure on as Palmeiras became quite passive after the early first goal – a free kick taken by defender Thiago Heleno. An equalizer wouldn’t have come as a surprise, but the Green Giant kept its cool and controlled the action for most of the time, forcing Bragantino higher up the pitch, making the opponent vulnerable. It wasn’t a bad gameplan but perhaps a tad risky, as these things tend to backfire…
As foreseen, Palmeiras’ counter attacks became frequent. They were often stopped short by unjust measures, rending several yellow cards to Bragantino’s players. Kleber suffered a lot, as usual (thankfully also he kept his cool, avoiding a booking that would see him far from this coming Sunday’s derby against Santos), which rendered many a free kick in Palmeiras’ favour. It was one of these, well executed by Lincoln, that found Thiago Heleno in the penalty area; with his back towards the goal, the tall youngster deflected the ball masterfully into the left top corner. 2-0 and end of story: time was nearly up and Bragantino had nothing additional to throw into the fight. Instead, to finalise, João Vitor calmly put away the third, closing the scorecard. Watch the goals below.
In the 19 official games played so far this season, Palmeiras has suffered only eight goals. Not since 1989 – 22 years back – have the team started so well defensively. And even though critical voices are heard in relation to the offensive capacity (and we DO need a centerforward), Palmeiras have netted 35 times this season: an average 1,84 goals per game. Funny how the press still seem to believe that Palmeiras are in some sort of crisis…
After Saturday’s game Scolari gave the squad a few days well deserved rest. With players back tomorrow (Tuesday) morning, they start preparing for the derby, training both morning and afternoon on the Tuesday and Wednesday, then only in the afternoon the remaining days leading up to the game. Both Danilo and Marcos Assunção will be back and at the coach’s disposition. Valdivia will be evaluated as the week progresses.
— ooo —
Slowly, Scolari is moulding these men into a homogenous identity. The comradeship and solidarity is visible, idem the confidence. Importantly, Scolari is also opening up the door for Palmeiras’ young talents; so far, six players have been “promoted”: wingbacks Gabriel Silva, Luis Felipe and Andrade (all three of them are 19), defensive midfielder Bruno Turco (19 also) and strikers Vinícius (only 17) and Miguel (18). But it doesn’t have to stop here; more players could come, as recently pointed out by Scolari. Clearly, he sees it as an important part of his job to keep a close watch on the kids and give them the opportunity when possible. Good for now, even better for the future!