Rosario Central’s streak of 23 consecutive undefeated home games did not happen by chance: the Argentines Wednesday played aggressive and offensive football, matched by a tremendous pressure coming from the stands. Nevertheless, Palmeiras were twice ahead on the scorecard but twice conceded the equaliser due to individual mistakes. Curtains down when Rosario scored their third and Palmeiras were down to ten men, but Barrios found the equaliser and Palmeiras actually had another two shots almost splitting the woodwork. In the end, the draw was fair, but Palmeiras could absolutely have returned home with the three points.
The Libertadores dream is not over, but fate is no longer in our hands. Palmeiras need Nacional beating Rosario Central in the last round, played on the 14th. A draw, and both Nacional and Rosario are through, Nacional as head of the group. So what could motivate Nacional to seek a victory? Pleasing the home fans would be number one, beating an Argentine time would be number two (Uruguay and Argentine are historical rivals). Palmeiras’ directors should carefully consider any other variables/incentives. And supporters must continue believing: the possibility is there and it does not even take a miracle.
Obviously, Palmeiras need to do their part and beat River. And beat them good: depending on the result in the Nacional vs Rosario game, Palmeiras need to win by a two or three goal margin. Too bad Gabriel Jesus is out. Nevertheless, the team is definitely improving collectively. Still many stupid mistakes being committed, as Wednesday’s clash clearly showed, but the apathy is gone while creativity and aggressiveness is back. Cuca’s attitude and working methods seem to have fallen in fertile soil and our coach is fused with the squad.
Thanks to the recent victories against Rio Claro and Corinthians, Palmeiras are heading Group B in the Paulista championship. The crazy thing is all five teams in the group can make it to the knockout phase, but only the top two go through: last round on Sunday and Palmeiras must go all in against Mogi Mirim, away, in order to secure a spot.
Thus, two more do-or-die games and another week not for the weak.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!