Sure, Vasco struggled in 2016 to secure promotion back into the first division. And sure, Vasco have not made any significant signings for the 2017 season.
Nevertheless, Vasco have played several major teams this year and never been beaten this thoroughly. Moreover, Cuca had only five (5) days to get the team ready.
What impresses the most is the almost full reversal to Palmeiras anno 2016 that Cuca was able to implement in the short amount of time available. Clearly, the defence needs tweaking, Vasco in the first half wasting several excellent opportunities to drive it home, but otherwise, Palmeiras were fast and furious, the characteristic initial blitz altering the scoreboard within four minutes through a penalty converted by Jean. Halfway through the first half, Vasco had levelled the action and only Prass kept Palmeiras in the lead. Cuca realised he had lost the midfield and instructed Tchê Tchê and Jean to swap positions, which immediately reversed the overall performance, again placing Palmeiras in the driver’s seat. Shortly before halftime, Guerra increased the lead.
Any hope Vasco nourished died within one minute of the second half, Borja making it 3-0 through a diving header peixinho-style. What followed was a walk in the park, Palmeiras blowing several opportunities before closing the scorecard with another penalty converted, this time by Borja. Both penalties bore Dudu’s signature, the “little giant” on fire. Also Tchê Tchê, Borja and Jean showed a lot more than in recent games under Eduardo Batista. It is undeniable: Cuca has this squad in a firm grip and should be able to extract truly great things given a month or two.
Impossible ask for a better debut in the Brasileirão. However, there is a natural barrier to progress, which is time. Or, rather, the lack thereof. Going into a period with two games a week, space available for training is limited. Already this Wednesday, Palmeiras receive Internacional for the first leg of the knockout phase in the Brazil Cup group of 16. A few minutes of inattention and Palmeiras can say goodbye to the tournament, just as recently against Ponte Preta in the first leg of the Paulistão semi-finals.
Not that Cuca would allow that.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!