Eventually Palmeiras were going to lose their invincibility in the São Paulo Championship. Last Sunday, away against Botafogo/SP, Prass had to scoop the ball three times out of the net, while Valdivia scored for Palmeiras from the penalty spot. Sunday’s Verdão looked sluggish, feeling the absence of suspended Kardec as reference point, and with little support from the flanks. Botafogo on the other hand executed their plan perfectly, destroying Palmeiras’ midfield and taking full advantage of the opportunities materialising when counter-attacking.
Was the Botafogo experience an indicator of things to come, or just a bump on the road?
Yesterday against São Bernardo, Palmeiras responded clearly enough, with Kardec and Valdivia showing the way against the so far best defence of the Paulistão. Kleina opted for a 4-3-3, again testing different tactical options, already preparing for the more difficult clashes in the upcoming knockout stage: with four rounds to go, Palmeiras are virtually through to the quarterfinals. Highlights below.
Lucas must be happy. As guest of honour, he not only participated in the press conference with coach Kleina but was at the stands to experience both the Palmeiras/Meltex victory on the court last Tuesday and yesterday’s display on the pitch. The kid is “pé quente”, as one would say in Brazil.
Alan Kardec bounced right back after the deception of not having been called up by Scolari for the national friendly against South Africa on 5 March. With a price tag fixed at € 5 million, Palmeiras are looking for investors to release the player from Benfica/POR. Shouldn’t be much of a problem, considering Kardec’s performance ever since arriving at the Verdão.
Wesley is a different story. Although part of the backbone of the current squad, Palmeiras might be forced to sell the midfielder, as the previous administration, led by Arnaldo Tirone, simply did not pay the instalments from the purchase of the player. In addition, a ridiculous three-year contract was signed, not five, meaning that Wesley as of August can sign a pre-contract with any other team and leave Palmeiras for free in early 2015. Palmeiras have two options: cough up some US$ 8 million for the two (out of three) outstanding parcels, or sell the player before August. The incompetence and recklessness of previous Palmeiras administrations never cease do amaze.
Patrick Vieira is also a question mark. The kid is negotiating the renewal of his contract, with his agent not showing much enthusiasm concerning the productivity mechanisms involved. Vieira hasn’t come on much, but was yesterday put into play in the second half and seemed motivated enough. Let’s hope for a successful conclusion.
Speaking of successful conclusion: shortly before the whistle blew yesterday, Valdivia got into a small argument with a São Bernardo player and was shown the yellow card. His third, meaning he will be out for the upcoming game against Portuguesa. Which he would be anyway, as he’s travelling to serve the Chilean national team. Now I’ve tried to reach a certain André Rizek all day for a comment, but his phone’s just giving me the busy signal…
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!