Unless Corinthians today beat Cruzeiro by more than two goals, Palmeiras finish the first half of the Brazilian championship in the lead. A few weeks back the lead was rather comfortable, but today the upper half of the table is more compact than ever, with at least seven teams in the title race. It is also worth noticing that five out of the six direct contenders entail away games for Palmeiras, Flamengo being the only exception. No easy task ahead.
Good news is Palmeiras seem to be recovering from the recent dip in performance. Having lost to Atlético Mineiro at home than Botafogo away, last Thursday’s away draw to Chapecoense was not reassuring, Vagner again being the major question mark. Coach Cuca certainly felt the keeper’s nerves on a shake and yesterday, against Vitória, opted for promoting Jailson between the posts. The 35-year-old has been at Palmeiras since 2014, but only made four appearances, and never in a first-division game. Never, as in never for any club. Palmeiras supporters let out a sigh of relief as Jailson proved his worth, undoubtedly earning a position in Cuca’s starting eleven as of now.
Dudu, yesterday wearing the captain’s armband, was back in old form, challenging defenders and making crucial passes while also working hard defensively. Also Moisés and Erik showed pace and determination, while Cleiton Xavier, for the second game in a row, was awarded a penalty after being taken down – in addition to scoring the winning goal. Bad news is both Leandro Pereira and scorer Barrios had to be taken out due to injury: Pereira with a knee discomfort and Barrios feeling his groin. Hopefully nothing serious in any of the cases, but likely we will see Róger Guedes back in the starting eleven against Atlético Paranaense on Sunday.
While Palmeiras learn to live without Gabriel Jesus and Prass, Brazil’s Olympic team is going from bad to worse. The initial goalless draw against South Africa was yesterday followed up with another, this time against Iraq. Palmeirenses all over the world are secretly (or not so secretly) hoping for a third strike and Brazil’s premature elimination: such a disaster would not only carry the potential to provoke substantial change within the CBF (7-1 was not nearly enough) but also return Gabriel Jesus to Palmeiras. Should Brazil fail to beat Denmark in the last game of the group stage…
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!