The Libertadores Cup is indeed a different story altogether. Palmeiras supporters hoping the team would step up to the challenge – yours truly included – cannot complain: the Verdão had Tuesday’s away debut against River Plate in a firm grip and was ahead twice, but allowed a draw in the end. Stepping back and cooling down, not a bad result, but still with that lingering taste of disappointment: could and should have bagged the three.
Marcelo Oliveira’s starting eleven was a bit of a surprise, with Gabriel Jesus and Robinho falling out as Erik and Thiago Santos up positions. The full line-up read Fernando Prass; Lucas, Roger Carvalho, Vitor Hugo and Zé Roberto; Arouca (Robinho), Jean, Thiago Santos, Dudu and Erik (Gabriel Jesus); Barrios (Alecsandro). A shallow analysis says “defensive”, but Palmeiras was the opposite, the quality on the midfield protecting the centre-lock but also serving munition to the offence. Jean scored his first in the Palmeiras jersey and Gabriel Jesus – who came on for Erik in the second half – was elected man of the match after becoming the youngest player to score for Palmeiras in a Libertadores game.
The goals suffered can at large be blamed on individual errors and lacking attention: Prass did commit the penalty and both Jean and especially Alecsandro acted liked rookies on that corner.
Summing up: Palmeiras and Marcelo Oliveira seem to be on the right track. The attitude was different, the passing game slightly improved, the team a bit more compact.
Two more things: the refereeing was abhorrent, inventing and reverting fouls from beginning to end and, needless to say, never in benefit of Palmeiras – all in true Libertadores-style. And the recent bull reverberating in a selected group of media vehicles about the squad being “divided”, that Marcelo Oliveira has lost the trust of the players, is just that: bull. Both before and after the games, players refuted the rumours, expressing complete confidence and unity regarding the work carried out.
All that will be needed against Santos on Saturday. A decent turn-up expected at the Allianz Parque.
— ooo —
Midfielder Moisés got unlucky in his debut against Linense last Saturday. Actually, Palmeiras and palmeirenses alike got unlucky: the 2-1 defeat at home was painful. However, even more so for Moisés, who were stepped upon, resulting in a broken foot. With a recovery time of 3-4 months, he has been cut from the Libertadores squad, Rodrigo being the last minute replacement.
Neither Leandro Almeida has been included in the Libertadores squad; he clearly burnt his last bridge with the coach against São Bento. Young Nathan, who was speculated to integrate Bahia’s squad, receives the opportunity of a lifetime.
Finally, a few words about our Allianz Parque “partner” WTorre, going from bad to worse. The most recent news is that WTorre and AEG, the leading international sports and entertainment company, have parted ways. AEG claims WTorre owes them money, while WTorre claims AEG is inefficient in bringing in revenues (events, sponsors, etcetera) to the Allianz Parque. I refrain from commenting further.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!