In mid-November of 2012, I used the expression “touches of cruelty” to describe a series of games where Palmeiras in unlikely ways lost important points which, in the end, determined the team’s relegation to the second division. The expression springs as easily to mind today, considering the goal Palmeiras conceded in the dying minutes against SPFC. But not only to SPFC, but also to Alan Kardec. The ultimate slap in the face. A reminder of the utterly disastrous intervention by Paulo Nobre during the failed process of renewing the striker’s contract a few months ago.
Watch the highlights below and you’ll perceive that Palmeiras – in contrast to the game against Atlético Mineiro the previous Sunday – this time played as equals and would have walked away with three points had it not been for the individual errors of keeper Fábio (both goals but especially the first), Leandro and Henrique (missed an open goal).
The must anticipated re-debut of Valdivia was cut short as the playmaker was carried out from the pitch on a stretcher, covering his face, claiming headache, breathing difficulties and dizziness. The medical exam carried out after the game indicates a fracture to his nose, a fracture that he contracted during Wednesday’s training session upon colliding with Wesley, but that went unnoticed. It is a small fracture, no need for surgery. However, Valdivia will not be back against Sport on Wednesday, nor in any other game the coming weeks: today, in addition, a muscular injury on the back of Valdivia’s right thigh was detected. Un-f*cking-believable. And see how Wesley is able to make a negative impact, even absent?
On the positive side, Cristaldo made his debut, coming on in the second half to show both skill and personality.
— ooo —
The Nobre administration is experiencing a complete meltdown, with the tide working against Palmeiras on all levels. Stagnated at 14 points in the Brasileirão, direct contenders Botafogo, Flamengo and Vitória fared better in this round, pushing Palmeiras down into the relegation zone. Gareca, by most considered a competent and dedicated professional, will need another couple of weeks to shape this squad into a team, fully integrating the newcomers. Time he does not have: two crucial games coming up: Sport on Wednesday then Coritiba on Saturday. Well, every game is crucial as of now: there’s no fat left, if there ever were any.
Now, there’s more than the usual “breaking in of new players” going on, as the Argentines seem to be experiencing a bit of hostility from parts of the squad. This is not the time nor place to name the troublemakers – some of them are not that hard to detect if you have been paying attention to the squad and individual performances as of late – but one thing is certain: Paulo Nobre needs to get down there and sort things out, show who’s boss, before it spirals completely out of hand.
At least Gareca has the full backing of palmeirenses. Perhaps one of the very few things there’s consensus about: Gareca must remain, must be given time. The results are not primarily his fault, and there has been a bit of bad luck involved.
— ooo —
Today, we saw the draw in the Brazil Cup. Palmeiras take on Atlético Mineiro in the group of 16, the first leg taking place at the Pacaembu on 27 August, with the return game on 4 September. The other seven clashes are:
Grêmio vs. Santos
Botafogo vs. Ceará
Cruzeiro vs. Santa Rita-AL
Vasco vs. ABC
Coritiba vs. Flamengo
América-RN vs. Atlético-PR
Bragantino vs. Corinthians
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!