Although the match could have gone either way – as both Guarani and especially Palmeiras blew many great opportunities to score – the result was not at all unfair. Guarani were the better team yesterday and at large dominated the show, setting the rhythm and really taking advantage of the nervousness they caused when putting pressure on our players high up on the pitch. Palmeiras on the other hand lost Wesley within a few minutes due to a knee injury, forcing Scolari to rethink his game plan. Even after putting Maikon Leite on, Barcos remained isolated and had to go further back to find the action, which is not his cup of tea. Our wingers had a terrible afternoon: Gerley’s adventures on the right flank resulted in nothing, but instead he managed to commit a horrendous penalty. Cicinho did his best to match Gerley’s performance and was sent off halfway into the second half. Our centre-backs seemed full of themselves. Only the mid section – with Araújo, João Vítor, and especially Daniel Carvalho and Marcus Assunção – played well. Watch the highlights below.
With the results from the weekend, Palmeiras slumped to fifth place, exactly behind Guarani. It is thus not only possible but likely that Guarani will be our opponent in the upcoming quarter-finals. The last round on Sunday 15th should basically define if Palmeiras play Guarani away or “home”. How frustrating it is not having a proper home…
If losing to Guarani is bad, losing Wesley is worse. The recently contracted midfielder had played only four games for Palmeiras and was still adjusting when against Guarani and with 10 seconds of play received a nasty tackle. Minutes later he apparently stepped into a hole and had to leave the pitch. The confirmation came today after carrying out medical exams: Wesley tore a ligament in his right knee, will have to undergo surgery and can be back on the pitch within six months the earliest, eight months being the more likely projection. In other words: we’ll see the poor bastard only in 2013. A hard blow to the career of the player and of course a hard blow to Palmeiras: I will not repeat how much faith everyone was putting in this player.
In addition, questions are being asked. Why do players look dispirited on the pitch? Why is the attack losing goal after goal? Why is the defence suddenly shaky? How come Palmeiras, a team that three weeks back sustained 22 straight games without losing, now lost three out of the last four games in the São Paulo Cup? And why is there a feeling that this is actually it, that this is the REAL Palmeiras we’re watching?
Many are blaming Scolari, many are starting to believe (or are already convinced) that he’s lost the touch. And I must admit I’m starting to slowly drift in that direction to. Scolari has unique qualities, not least for being a true palmeirense body and soul, his impressive CV and his ability to stand up for what he believes in no matter what. In the last few years, what has been considered the best coaches Brazil has to offer – Luxemburgo, Muricy Ramalho, Scolari – have commanded Palmeiras: only the latter survives friendly fire, lack of results, media storms, treacherous players… And all this simultaneously. But for how much longer? And is being a survivor enough? It can’t be. Especially not when the squad of today at large has been brought in and shaped according to Scolari’s wishes. Good intentions apart: we need results.
We can’t seriously consider the above without looking for options. And I’m the first to acknowledge: who could be brought in to replace Felipão? I can’t think of many suitable names, much less considering what’s currently available on the market. Can you?
As outlined already in the headline: many questions, no answers.