Some claimed Palmeiras lacking performance reflected a desire to fry coach Marcelo Oliveira. “Marcelo gone, we’ll see change overnight”. Change might come, but certainly not overnight. Palmeiras did beat São Paulo FC 0-2 last Sunday, but SPFC are currently far from being “the mark” and even so dominated Palmeiras in the first half, our Verdão only reacting in the second half as interim coach Valentim made adjustments.
Against Nacional, in Montevideo, now with Cuca in command, would we see repeated Sunday’s Palmeiras of the first or the second half?
We got the dominated Palmeiras, the Palmeiras that looked like a pre-season team with a significant number of newcomers, the Palmeiras who little left their defensive side and had close to no shots at goal. We were lucky the scorecard was blank at halftime, because any scribbles on it wouldn’t have been in our favour.
Just as against São Paulo, Palmeiras improved in the second half, but far from enough. Nacional got the result they wanted. Cuca did try to mix things up – first in the starting eleven and then throughout the second half, showing a lot of fearless offensive spirit – but in the end, it was clear to anyone that a lot of work is needed to turn this squad into a team.
A lot of work needed, in less than three weeks. Never mind the upcoming five games in the Paulista championship: on 6 April Palmeiras travel to Argentina to fight second-placed Rosario Central. Nothing but a victory will keep Palmeiras in the race for one of the two spots leading to the Libertadores knockout phase.
Osasco Audax, away, this Sunday. Start of the trial-and-error session for Cuca. Although we of course hope for a trial-and-success session.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!