Expectations were high as Palmeiras entered the grass of the Barueri arena to battle Bahia for the 12th round of the Brazilian Championship. Still suffering due to the many players in the medical department, now also including Valdivia who felt his thigh during practice last Wednesday, Felipão picked Bruno; Artur, Leandro Amaro, Wellington and Juninho; Henrique, Márcio Araújo, João Vítor (Barcos – 6’/2nd H) and Daniel Carvalho (Maikon Leite – half-time); Mazinho and Obina (Patrik – 14’/2nd H).
Palmeiras were a steamroller for 15 minutes and enchanted the roughly 8.000 gathered supporters. The goal was just a question of time. Well, it’s always just a question of time… And this time… Bahia managed to level the game and also create chances. What looked like a walk in the park suddenly turned into an open affair. We went to half-time with a blank sheet.
Second half and Bahia came on much hotter than in the first, while Palmeiras were struggling to adapt. Scolari’s chess moves didn’t work at all and Palmeiras’ creativity went down the drain with the same pace as the referee’s credibility: a clear penalty (hand on ball) not marked for Palmeiras, then an extremely dubious penalty marked and converted against Palmeiras. Without forces to retaliate Palmeiras even surrendered one more and saw the scorecard close at 0-2. A bad result, considering playing “at home” and against one of the underdogs in the Brasileirão.
Scolari heavily criticised the referee after the game but there’s no point in denying that the team did not correspond as expected. On the other hand, there’s no reason for alarm: these same men were champions 15 days back. The defeat was bad and unexpected, but that’s all there’s to it. Reload. Palmeiras travel to Belo Horizonte to play Cruzeiro on Sunday night (without left-winger Juninho who received his third yellow card and possibly João Vítor who left the pitch yesterday with pains in the knee), and then the South America Cup kicks off with the game against Botafogo next Wednesday. It’s time to bring out that winning spirit once again, keeping out of the relegation zone in the Brasileirão (check out current standings in the tables to your right) and advancing in the South America Cup.