Although last Wednesday’s mission was made more difficult due to the large number of Palmeiras players (tactically) suspended, it was plain and simple enough: return home with the three point and home advantage in a future semi-final. Palmeiras’ mixed bag, led by Valdivia, disappointed.
The draw didn’t cut it, as SPFC beat Portuguesa 3-0, leaving Palmeiras in fourth position overall. Thus, the Paulistão quarter-finals were defined as follows:
Corinthians vs. Ponte Preta (1-0)
São Paulo vs. Red Bull Brasil (3-0)
Palmeiras vs. Botafogo/SP
Santos vs. XV de Piracicaba
Quarter-finals and semi-finals are decided in one game only, while the final is a home and away affair.
A full house is expected tomorrow: out of the 35.000 tickets available for Palmeiras supporters, 29.000 have already been sold. There are an additional 3.000 seats in VIP boxes and then the 1.200 destined for Botafogo supporters. Nothing suggests the current record – 35.939 spectators last year against Sport of Recife – will hold.
As the São Paulo championship entered the knockout phase, teams were allowed four changes to the squad. Coach Oswaldo de Oliveira opted for promoting Cleiton Xavier, Kelvin, Andrei Girotto and Wellington. These four replace Allione, Alan Patrick and João Paulo (injured) and Maikon Leite (most likely returning to Mexican club Atlas). Left-defender Egídio was not included due to pending documentation from his former club in Ukraine. None of the four new players are expected to grab a place in the starting eleven at this point, although both Cleiton Xavier and Kelvin are interesting enough options Below, the complete list:
Keepers: Prass, Aranha and Jaílson
Flank defenders: Lucas, João Pedro, Zé Roberto and Victor Luis
Central defender: Tobio, Jackson, Victor Ramos, Nathan, Vitor Hugo and Wellington
Defensive midfielders: Arouca, Andrei Girotto, Amaral, Gabriel and Renato
Offensive midfielders: Robinho, Valdivia, Ryder Matos and Cleiton Xavier
Forwards: Dudu, Rafael Marques, Leandro Pereira, Kelvin, Cristaldo and Gabriel Jesus
Well, good folks, this is it. We face our first do-or-die at the Allianz Parque.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!