Grêmio 2-2 Palmeiras

My Sunday post-game draft was a rehearsal of misery and pain. Palmeiras played well against Grêmio and even at large dominated the opponent and were rightfully winning 0-2 (goals by Cicinho and Assunção), with rather good performances by in particular Cicinho, Patrik and Ricardo Bueno.

Grêmio scored with 20 minutes to go. Palmeiras however continued controlling the game. At 45 minutes, Grêmio midfielder Fernando found the ball at his feet and in a last effort nailed the equaliser with a long-range shot that defined gravity. Watch the highlights below.

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For the first time in months, Palmeiras showed consistency and team spirit. Palmeiras did deserve the three points, but once again fortune turned her back on us. I know full-grown men who cried as the referee blew the whistle – cried out of frustration, sadness, agony over a year that seems never to end.

But time is a healer. And Palmeiras proved to be alive, in spite of everything.

— ooo —

Kleber – by most palmeirenses today referred to as “Judas” – yesterday (Monday) participated for a good hour at TV Bandeirantes. The stage had been set and he didn’t disappoint, attacking Palmeiras, the directors and in particular coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. “80 per cent of players don’t like Scolari and want him out”.

Remember how Scolari backed Kleber up, publicly announcing that he was the best striker playing in the Brasileirão and even gave him the captain’s arm band? Don’t expect any credit with Kleber. According to Judas, Scolari is the rotten apple at the core of Palmeiras’ problems: interesting words coming from a player who a few months back, and before trying to extort Palmeiras into raising his salary by threatening a move to Flamengo, said that Scolari was the best coach in Brazil (only comparable to Muricy Ramalho) and that he was doing fantastic work with a technically limited squad.

Palmeiras responded by allowing new football manager César Sampaio to be interviewed by TV Bandeirantes this early afternoon. Sampaio, extremely calm and pragmatic about it all, laid it out in only a few words and with extreme clarity. He said that he had conducted three meetings:

Firstly, Sampaio had talked with the directors, explaining that if Luiz Felipe Scolari in fact was the problem, he wanted the green light to fire him if necessary.

Secondly, Sampaio talked to Scolari and the rest of the technical commission. Scolari made clear that he always had Palmeiras’ best in mind at that he would leave immediately – and also abdicate from the contractual fine – if that was the wish of the players and directors.

Finally, Sampaio gathered the squad and explained the situation. If players felt Scolari was the problem, they needed just say so. Sampaio also assured them that no single player or group of players would be hung out, but that the decision of Scolari’s dismissal would be his and his alone.

All of this was communicated to the Bandeirantes reporters, in addition to the players’ verdict: Scolari stays. By broad consensus.

Perhaps a page is turning with Kleber leaving (destination still unknown but Grêmio seem the only viable alternative at this point) and players again uniting. César Sampaio has in two weeks already started making a difference at Palmeiras.

— ooo —

Tomorrow Wednesday, Palmeiras receive Vasco da Gama at the Pacaembu stadium. With four rounds to go, Vasco is currently tied with arch-rivals Corinthians for first place in the Brazilian Championship.

Voices are being raised for Palmeiras to make less of an effort tomorrow in order not to help Corinthians win the title. I question not only the sanity of doing this while Palmeiras are still risking relegation, but of course the moral aspects. In the end, my position is simple and echo that of Fabio Tatu, writer for the Palmeiras fan page at Globo online: entering the pitch, I want my team to do what I always expect them to do: win the game.

My Vasco wife who will have to forgive me…

AVANTI PALESTRA!

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