Sunday’s game against strong and consistent Vasco da Gama gave us a few hints about where Palmeiras might be going: the team played on equal terms with the cariocas and could have left Barueri with three points hadn’t it been for a) the genius of freekick specialist Juninho Pernambucano (Barcos went stock raving mad at Bruno with the equaliser but in my opinion there was nothing the Palmeiras keeper could have done, even if he’d “stayed in his corner”) and b) the lack of spine from the referee, denying Palmeiras a penalty in the final minutes of the game. In the end, 1-1 was a fairly honest result, considering what both teams presente on the pitch. Again, Mazinho came on smoking hot in the second half to open up the scorecard for Palmeiras before Juninho levelled the game. Highlights below.
Palmeiras’s lineup consisted of Bruno; Cicinho, Thiago Heleno, Maurício Ramos and Juninho; Henrique, Marcos Assunção (Márcio Araújo 44′/1st H), João Vítor and Daniel Carvalho (Maikon Leite 40′/2nd H); Luan (Mazinho 18′/1st H) and Barcos. Thus, Scolari didn’t spare his best men, even with the upcoming segond leg of the semi-finals of the Brazil Cup. The commander’s decision came with an unknown price tag: forward Luan felt a muscle strain and is out for a couple of weeks, Mazinho being his likely replacement. Also Assunção was substituted due to injury, but he represents no risk and should be OK by Thursday.
Then there’s Valdivia. The midfielder on Friday declared that he’s at Scolari’s disposal and will stay at Palmeiras at least until the end of the Copa do Brasil. Out of last Sunday’s game due to pains in the knee, he’ll hopefully be ready for action on Thursday. Valdivia’s been training as normal these last few days and says he doesn’t want to create more confusion right now with any talk about staying or leaving. “I want to help Palmeiras in this decisive game against Grêmio and also in our recovery in the Brazilian Championship”, he stated on Palmeiras’ website. This goes in line with what Sampaio said the other day, that lending El Mago to another club (Colo-Colo, it’s been speculated) is not an option. “Either he stays or is permanently transferred” is the clear message coming from the directors.