Any sãopaulino infiltrating the Allianz Parque yesterday was surely shaking like a leaf – in the fear of getting caught (after all, only Palmeiras supporters were allowed in, as in every derby in São Paulo as of late) and considering the retrospect of the clash in recent years: last 4 home games, only Palestra victories, with a goal tally 12-1 in Palmeiras’ favour.
With an eye on Palmeiras’ Libertadores Cup game this upcoming Wednesday, and considering previous Wednesday’s physically and mentally tough battle in Argentina, coach Baptista opted for a mixed bag against The Enemy. I first, real test of the squad’s strength. Against a São Paulo featuring the Paulistão’s best offense, how would Palmeiras behave without reference players like Edu Dracena, Jean, Zé Roberto, Felipe Melo, Keno and Borja?
Wonderfully well, we learnt. In what surely was Palmeiras’ best performance so far this season, São Paulo was thoroughly dominated. The line-up consisted of Prass; Fabiano, Yerry Mina, Vítor Hugo and Egídio; Thiago Santos and Tchê Tchê; Michel Bastos, Dudu and Guerra; Willian. Fluctuating between a 4-1-4-1 and a 4-2-3-1, Palmeiras never gave São Paulo a chance to breathe, consistently applying pressure high up on the pitch, compacting the lines, leaving the opponent little option but to clear the ball. Palmeiras created a number of chances, but the first goal came only just before halftime: Egídio won the ball on the midfield, by the left sideline, Dudu snapped it up, glanced over at Denis’ advanced position between the posts and fired away. Brilliant in every sense, a marvellous goal. And for the third time in three years, a São Paulo keeper is humiliated in similar fashion against Palmeiras. Difference is, this time, former keeper and current SPFC coach Rogério Ceni watched it all from the sideline.
In the second half, Palmeiras drove then final nails in the coffin, first through Tchê Tchê, with a terrific left-foot shot (what a comeback for the kid, spending last six weeks in recovery after fracturing his shoulder) and Guerra (his first goal for Palmeiras and his first opportunity playing the full 90 minutes, last 20 of these together with Borja).
The victory was everything we could have hoped for. Yesterday, we had a clear indicator Eduardo Baptista’s ideas are finally catching on. And as formations, tactics and game plans start to mesh, players loosen up and allow their creativity to flow, leading to better individual and collective performance, better results and a continuous boost in confidence.
Jorge Wilstermann had better look out.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!