Palmeiras’ debut in the Brazil Cup also marked the debut of the new third jersey, a homage to Fernando Prass and the jersey our keeper wore when Palmeiras bagged last year’s Cup title against Santos.
Not by accident, third division Botafogo/PB have reached the quarterfinals of this year’s edition of the Cup: they are tactically obedient, have a well-designed gameplan – based on strong, individual marking and rapid counter-attacks – and a dedicated squad. It took a while for Palmeiras to adjust, the first half being a level affair, the Verdão with more possession but unable to create any real scoring opportunities. In fact, had Botafogo’s forwards been a tad more efficient, Palmeiras would have gone inte halftime behind on the scoresheet.
Things changed rapidly in the second half: Cuca clearly told his players to start challenging more, to use their individual skill in one-on-one situations. He also promoted Allione on Cleiton Xavier, increasing intensity and speed to Palmeiras’ offense. With Tchê Tchê also venturing a bit higher up on the pitch, Palmeiras suddenly were in complete control, coming in wave after wave. At 10 minutes, Rafael Marques was clipped on the verge of the penalty area and Jean converted. Shortly after, same Marques received from Erik, dribbled and securely stuffed the net, becoming top goal scorer (11) at the Allianz Parque alongside Cristaldo.
As predicted, the Botafogo players got increasingly tired and the third brace game naturally: great interaction between Dudu and Allione, who served Tchê Tchê, coming from behind, turning both once and twice before placing the ball behind the Botafogo keeper. Tchê’s first brace in the Palmeiras jersey that was, much awaited. The 24.500 strong crowd certainly left the Allianz Parque confident for the second leg, scheduled three weeks from now.
Palmeiras now have a week of training before facing São Paulo in the 23rd round of the Brasileirão. Only concern is Moisés, who felt his ankle yesterday and had to be replaced by Gabriel already in the first half.
Well, there is also that collection of yellow cards hovering above everybody’s heads…
Ah yes, and today’s ruling in the Supreme Tribunal of Sports…
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!