When Cuca claimed Palmeiras would bag the title this year, many a palmeirense cringed. Then, sports journalists started expressing the view that the Verdão were indeed a major contender. With the squad training hard and key players staying out of the medical department, even the most skeptic supporter started to believe the hype.
In recent times, we have seen expectations grow then being crushed before a large and incredulous home crowd. Would Saturday’s debut in the Brasileirão prove to be more of the same, or would Palmeiras actually deliver, delighting the 33.000 supporters at the Allianz Parque?
What we saw was Palmeiras’ best championship debut in 20 years. The 19 days Cuca has had at his disposal shone through as Palmeiras came on stronger, faster, more technical and tactical than in a long time. Ball possession at 61%, over 500 passes, the players radiating confidence and determination, every one of them knowing their tasks and executing them well. 4-0 against the Paraná state champions Atlético Paranaense. No one could have asked for a better start. Highlights below.
In an afternoon marked by collective strength, a few players nevertheless stood out. Cleiton Xavier is back with a vengeance, dominating the midfield like a true playmaker. Tchê Tchê alternated between defensive midfield, offensive midfield and right-winger, constantly swapping positions with Jean: the kid has been at Palmeiras less than a week and is just killing it. Barrios is not scoring (yet) but plays a fundamentally important role, keeping the defenders busy and opening up spaces for Gabriel Jesus and Róger Guedes, Palmeiras’ mortal strikers. In the second half, Alecsandro, Rafael Marques and Moisés came on: tough luck for anyone wanting to see Dudu, Arouca, Gabriel, Allione, Thiago Santos, Cristaldo, Zé Roberto, Erik… Not even mentioning Mina, who only arrives in June.
A special nod goes to Barrios who asked the Paraguayan national coach not to call him up for the Copa America competition, outright expressing his desire to remain at Palmeiras in order to obtain a sequence of games and acquire rhythm. That’s commitment. As also displayed by Alecsandro, giving the referee a nasty look as he blew the final whistle 20 seconds before stoppage time, adding no injury time to the clock: Palmeiras were 4-0, but Alecsandro wanted more.
This squad, under Cuca´s command, has huge potential. It’s for everyone to see. Even those visually impaired.
Saturday, a group of 21 blind persons, each with an accompanying assistant, got a special treat: first, a guided tour of the Allianz Parque, then, seats right behind one of the goals, enjoying a specialized, live descriptive transmission through headphones during the game. The video below is in Portuguese, but I assure you that you will find that completely irrelevant. Congratulations Palmeiras and everyone involved: fingers crossed this beautifully moving experience can grow into something more than a one-off event!
Palmeiras now enjoy another week of rest and training before heading to neighbouring city of Campinas and Saturday’s game against Ponte Preta.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
Essa ação com os deficientes visuais foi sensacional!