Palmeiras used yesterday’s game as dress rehearsal for the upcoming Libertadores bout away against Atlético Tucumán. Baptista again opted for the 4-2-3-1 formation, this time Felipe Melo taking Thiagos Santo’s place alongside Zé Roberto. Michel Bastos gave way to Guerra. And just as against Ferroviária, Willian started up front.
Even swapping pieces, the formation worked well and Palmeiras controlled the game. The soaked pitch ruined expectations for any class act, but the first half was nevertheless enjoyable, with Willian opening up the scorecard before the ten-minute mark and Palmeiras creating several chances.
In the second half, Baptista promoted Borja and Bastos on Willian and Guerra. The scenario remained mostly unchanged until Zé Roberto advanced his position, transforming Palmeiras’ formation into a 4-1-4-1. With that, the same problems resurged from previous games: Felipe Melo lost and alone, lines too far apart, difficulties in reversing from defence to offence. Baptista watched all this but apparently was not bothered by Red Bull applying more pressure and advancing positions. His third substitution was Roger Guedes on Keno, the young forward coming on red hot, soon increasing the lead after a beautiful pass from Zé.
Red Bull found their goal with five minutes left on the clock. A draw was however never close and in the dying minute, Borja again showed all his lethalness, closing the scorecard.
In two games for the Verdão, the Colombian striker has had the ball in his possession for 37 seconds, taken three shots and scored twice. If there was ever any doubt, he is the sharpest shooter in the squad. We also learnt that the 4-2-3-1 formation does indeed suit Palmeiras well, even swapping the pieces. And this without two crucial players for game reversal, Tchê Tchê and Moisés, available (the former will be tested tomorrow and might travel with the squad to Argentina).
Now, yesterday’s morphing from 4-2-3-1 into 4-1-4-1 leaves some of us puzzled. As Baptista did not try to mend, Zé Roberto was under instructions. Why does Baptista insist on a formation that is not working? His grace period is coming to an end, and fast. For now, he better settle on a formation and matching game plan that will put out solid, consistent performance. Leave the alternations and trickery to later.
Libertadores Cup. Our obsession. Bring it on.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!