For the second leg of the South America Cup group of 16 knockout phase Palmeiras rested important players, notably Marcos Assunção, Henrique and Maurício Ramos. Others that could have made a difference – like Maikon Leite and Wesley – are either in recovery or not enlisted in the SA Cup. Palmeiras’ line-up – Bruno; Artur, Leandro Amaro, Thiago Heleno and Juninho; Márcio Araújo, Patrik (Betinho), Tiago Real, Daniel Carvalho (Obina) and Mazinho (Luan); Barcos – struck no fear in the hearts of the Millonarios players who came on fast and strong as of the first minute at the El Campín stadium, Bogotá. Additional enemies like high altitude fatigue and odd ball curves completed the scenario as the Colombians patiently and systematically squeezed the juice out of us. 3-0 could have been 4 or 5: Bruno performed well and had a bit of luck.
The good news is no one was injured – with the exception of a few bruised egos – and that Palmeiras from now on can focus 100 per cent on the Brasileirão rescue mission.
Speaking of egos: it’s inadmissible that hotheads like Betinho and especially Luan continue to act out their frustrations at Palmeiras’ expense. Luan wasn’t sent off solely due to a touch of grace from the excellent Victor Hugo Carillo from Peru; Betinho however made sure to conclude his short, pathetic display as to leave the referee no option but to pull out the red card. I’m wondering what would have happened had Valdivia been on the pitch.
Not wasting another thought on the SA Cup and Millonarios, the million dollar question is if Palmeiras will find willpower, tactics and technique to once again turn Porto Alegre into “Porco Alegre” as happened against Grêmio in the semi-finals of this year’s Brazil Cup. On Saturday at 16:20 (yes, a rather odd time), Internacional receive Palmeiras in the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul for the 33rd round of the Brasileirão. We’re four points behind Bahia who receive Grêmio that very same day, kick-off scheduled for 18:30. We need to see a very different Palmeiras from yesterday’s to stand a chance.