Botafogo of Ribeirão Preto came with a clearly designed game plan: 11 men behind the ball, ride out Palmeiras’ initial blitz and patiently await that one opportunity to launch a ball into the area or set up a rapid counter-attack. Palmeiras on the other hand did what could be expected: with much superior ball possession, our Verdão sought to penetrate the tight defence through the flanks, crossing balls high and low, constantly reversing sides forcing the Botafogo defence to regroup. One of those games where one side burns opportunity after opportunity (Dudu and Leandro Pereira, the latter replacing Cristaldo in the starting eleven, came closest), while the other side just need that one to define the score… Everybody’s nightmare.
At 15 minutes of the second half, coach Oswaldo decided it was time to let Botafogo have a taste of Valdivia, judging that the Chilean midfielder would render his best against an adversary who started to feel the fatigue. Rightly so: Valdivia was at ease, distributing passes, allowing Palmeiras to further move up positions. It was a question of time. And it was Valdivia who saw Lucas sprinting up his right flank, serving him perfectly for a low cross that Leandro bagged.
With Santos beating XV de Piracicaba 3-0, we have our semi-finals defined: Palmeiras vs. Corinthians on the 19th at 16:00, and Santos vs. São Paulo on the 18th or 19th at 18:30. Thus, a week of preparations before taking on our biggest rival in their lair, where they are yet to know defeat.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!