It was a weird clássico, starting with the low numbers in the stands – 7.500 – although we should be used to the “buruerisation” by now. The game kicked off in high gear and the trigger-happy referee immediately started distributing bookings left and right. After the initial Flamengo blitz, Palmeiras started controlling the action, dominating the midfield and distributing the ball well out into the flanks. With 30 minutes of play Ibson received his second yellow (kicking Valdivia one time too many) and hit the showers. It was really a walk in the park after that, although one would have wished for the superiority to transcend into numbers. But the truth is Flamengo never threatened Bruno and Palmeiras never really bothered too much with extending the lead after Barcos netted shortly after Ibson’s premature exit.
Palmeiras yesterday were represented by Bruno; Artur, Thiago Heleno, Maurício Ramos and Juninho; Henrique, Marcos Assunção (Márcio Araújo, HT), Patrik and Valdivia; Mazinho (Fernandinho – 21’/2nd H) and Barcos (Obina – 40’/2nd H). Scolari was again up in the stands paying his sins.
The three points came at a good time and lifted the Verdão out of the relegation zone. Sunday’s opponent are Atlético Goianense, a team on the rise but nevertheless in the bottom of the tables. Anything but another three points would be a disappointment.
— ooo —
Speaking of disappointments… Although not officially confirmed (and probably never will be), defensive midfielder João Vítor has been fined for showing up for practice on Monday under the influence of alcohol. He was immediately sent home but participated as normal on Tuesday’s training sessions. Barred from yesterday’s game, he should be available on Sunday. Some say his days at Palmeiras are numbered, but I wouldn’t think so. If this was an isolated event, there’s no reason to raise hell: just fine the guy and keep him on the tight leash. If it wasn’t, he should first and foremost be offered professional help.
Another piece of bad news concerns Marcos Assunção, who stepped out in halftime yesterday due to pains in the right knee. The medic’s department has now given him an additional two weeks of rehab; if the tendinitis doesn’t get better, surgery is the way out. The procedure is simple and the recovery time something like 15-30 days, but as Assunção’s no kid… He’s always said there are two factors that will determine if he’ll continue playing football next year: the possibility to participate in the Libertadores Cup and him staying healthy. Another important detail: Assunção has not yet reached an agreement with Palmeiras regarding numbers for a new contract: apparently the set piece specialist is asking for quite a lot. Now, the tendinitis doesn’t really work in his favour.
There’s one more thing that could potentially trouble Assunção: the return of Correa. You might remember the midfielder from his previous passage through Palmeiras 2003-2006, when he played 192 games and scored 15 goals. In 2006 he transferred to Dynamo Kiev and had a few good years there, but lately things have not worked out quite as well and Correa has been on loan both to Flamengo and Atlético/MG before returning to Dynamo in 2011. Last month he terminated his contract with the club, which allowed him to transfer to Palmeiras without any costs involved. Yesterday he passed the medical exams and then signed for the rest of the year.
Correa is a shot in the dark. Amusingly, he’s now the player in the squad with most games in the Palmeiras jersey. Still, don’t expect too much. And let’s for heaven’s sake hope his agent – the infamous Mr Dioguardi – stays far, far back in the shadows.