The human mind – both individually and collectively – is a strange creation. Sometimes, pain will make us rise to the occasion, while in other cases a positive experience is needed to relight the fire.
Contemplate Palmeiras’ streak of 22 undefeated games, stretching from 2011 into late March of this year. 22 games. Undefeated. Then the Verdão lost 2-1 to Corinthians and a bad spell was installed that culminated in the premature exit from the São Paulo Cup and the so far 2 points out of 15 in the Brazilian Championship.
Take Valdivia. Although it’s way too early to draw conclusions, I think we can all agree that the player we saw last Thursday is the same player we fell in love with in 2008: fast and furious, irreverent, decisive. The kind of player you adore having on your side and loath when wearing your opponent’s colours. Could it be that the hardship Valdivia and his wife went through some weeks ago will leave a legacy not entirely negative? Today’s clash with Corinthians might give us some more indicators.
During high school I was struggling with my French classes. On a scale from A to E, I was scoring consistent D’s. Halfway through my penultimate semester there was this Central Exam, mandatory for all schools in the country. A couple of weeks after the exam, my French teacher approached me in the corridors and asked for a word: “Kristian, how did you feel about your Central Exam?”. I swallowed hard and said, truthfully: “I actually thought I might have done OK”, already anticipating the bad news. “OK?” she said. “Well, let me tell you that you did more than OK. You were actually one of the best in the class”. I must have smiled from ear to ear, because so did she. And French class would never be the same. I found joy and raised my grades, finishing the last year with a solid B.
Reason can only get us that far: there are many other things that come into the equation, not least self-esteem, force of habit, superstition, encouragement…
It’s absurd to call the Barueri stadium “home”, as we’ve related before (here, for example). Last Thursday, we had palmeirenses leaving the capital three hours ahead of the game against Grêmio and still not making it in time. We had palmeirenses – and not a few, mind you – leaving their cars by the highway and walking/running for kilometres in hope of reaching the stadium before it was all over. Many got in only at half-time. Some didn’t make it at all. Shameful. Revolting.
Still, I believe Barueri must be the arena of choice also for the final game of the Brazil Cup, and this for one single reason: our players seem to want it. No wonder, as they have gotten used to it in the last few months and, de facto, have had positive experiences there. Palmeiras’ retrospect at the Barueri arena is great. One mustn’t neglect the positive impact this is causing on our players.
Call it superstition, call it emotional motivation, whatever: the fact is that Palmeiras’ players feel good at the Barueri. The error was letting this happen in the first place. Made the bed, now sleep in it. Palmeiras’ directors must do everything humanly possible to improve chances of bringing that trophy home. Even at the cost of decreased revenues (optional stadiums in São Paulo allow for a considerably larger audience) and again humiliating their most valuable asset: the supporters.
To all our brave warriors out there: AVANTI PALESTRA!
*all pictures by Fernando Dantas/Gazeta Press