It was a game destined for a goalless draw or for going either way by chance. The battle was fierce and took place mostly on the midfield, with Flamengo dominating the first 25 minutes and Palmeiras slowly regaining initiative and ball possession. Kleber was back – sporting the red captain armband –and played the full 90 minutes as his usual fighting self, ending the speculations on a possible transfer; with seven games played he is now destined to stay at Palmeiras, at least until the end of the season.
The result was not at all good: Corinthians beat Botafogo 0-2 and are now 9 points ahead of Palmeiras; the Verdão being parked in fourth place, one point behind Flamengo and two behind São Paulo. Watch the game highlights below.
Speaking of Kleber, always the centre of attention… At the very end of the game, confusion arose in regard to which team had had possession of the ball (unfortunately not included in the video below) when the referee stopped the game to attend to an injured Flamengo player. With the ball back in play, Kleber expected the Flamengo player to kick it over the sideline; the Flamengo player obviously was expecting the same from Kleber. The ball just sat there, between the two, for a good two seconds before Kleber decided he had had enough and simply snatched the ball, advanced to the penalty area and took the shot. The ball went wide, but every player on the pitch scrambled to participate in the heated exchange of insults that followed.
My take on the whole thing: Palmeiras was attacking and in possession of the ball when the referee blew the whistle. Thus, Flamengo should have returned the ball in good fair play spirit. As that didn’t happen, Kleber should have taken possession of the ball but opted for retreating it to another Palmeiras player. His sudden “surprise charge” is in itself a breach of the fair play rule. Had an opposite player done anything similar against Palmeiras, I would be furious; thus I cannot approve of Kleber’s attitude, although it seems to have pleased a majority of supporters.
— ooo —
On this coming Sunday, Palmeiras travel to Rio de Janeiro for the clash against Fluminense – the team who yesterday signed with Martinuccio and now must prepare to face a battle with Palmeiras in the FIFA courts (the Argentine signed a pre-contract with Palmeiras in June and the fine for breaking that contract is roughly US$ 30 million). The possible return of Valdivia is Palmeiras’ expectation for a more creative midfield, taking advantage of Kleber’s and Maikon Leite’s speed and determination. We might also see the debut of young rightwinger Gerley in the Palmeiras jersey.