I’d say the “which Palmeiras is real: the one against SPFC or the one against Red Bull” question, exhaustedly repeated in the media for the last week, was answered yesterday against Mogi Mirim. When Palmeiras enter focused and determined, they apply pressure high up on the pitch, frequently allowing for quick turnarounds and sequences of rapid exchange of passes: this scenario gave us 3-0 before halftime – two by Dudu and a third brace by Robinho. The midfielder arriving from Coritiba has scored five goals and given five assists so far in 2015. The men on the pitch were Fernando Prass; Lucas, Victor Ramos, Vitor Hugo and Victor Luis; Gabriel, Arouca (Renato, 39’/2º H) and Robinho (Jackson, 24’/2º H); Rafael Marques, Dudu and Cristaldo (Valdivia, 20’/2º H).
The second half – featuring the much awaited debut of Valdivia – naturally dropped in quality as Palmeiras both took the foot of the pedal and forgot all about the KISS principle, complicating and overdoing it. At least in the offensive. In defence the issue is more serious: again and again, Mogi Mirim were allowed to take shots at goal and approach Prass in situations that would have led to not only one but several goals if Mogi sported attackers of better quality. Palmeiras’ central defenders are too adventurous, especially Vitor Hugo, who “risk it all” trying to outsmart the attacker very early on: great when it works, dangerous when it doesn’t. Yesterday, it got him sent off after two bookings, one in each half.
In any case, the end result certainly pleased the almost 30.000 supporters at the Allianz Parque.
Palmeiras’ last game in the group stage is against Ituano on the 8 April. Soon we’ll learn who will be our opponent in the quarter-finals.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
UPDATE – Palmeiras’ opponent in the quarter-finals was defined yesterday as Botafogo/SP beat São Paulo 2-0 while Linense thrashed São Bernardo 4-1. The combination of results mean we’ll have Palmeiras vs. Botafogo in the next phase. It is however not decided if the game will be played at the Allianz Parque: if São Paulo overtake Palmeiras in the last round of the group stage, São Paulo push Palmeiras out of the Capital for the quarter-finals. The explanation is simple: São Paulo police claim they cannot handle two games involving major teams on the same day. As we’ll have Palmeiras, Corinthians and SPFC playing on either the Saturday or Sunday, one of these three – i.e. the team with least number of overall points – will have to move their game out of the Capital. Corinthians are out of reach, followed by Palmeiras one point ahead of São Paulo.
São Paulo play Portuguesa in the last round. Palmeiras visit Ituano. Kickoff Wednesday night.
Other quarter-final duels already defined: São Paulo vs. Red Bull Brasil and Corinthians vs. Ponte Preta. Santos will know their opponent – XV de Piracicaba or Penapolense – only on Wednesday. It’s an open affair: XV are currently two points ahead but play Corinthians in the last round, while Penapolense receive weaker opponent São Bento. Stay tuned.