A curious game, that was. Looking at the highlights, you will not grasp how very much in control Palmeiras seemed to be. Patiently constructing, advancing, retreating when necessary, alternating from flank to flank, rarely giving up possession. If something is to be criticised, it was the lack of verticality and the few efforts on goal, in particular medium/long distant shots; no minor issue though, as Palmeiras came without a man of reference in the penalty area, Cuca resting Borja and instead promoting Willian. He also centralised Jean, allowing for the debut of Mayke – just arrived from Cruzeiro as a loan until end of 2018 – on the right flank.
The “seemingly in control” aspect makes defeat much harder to swallow. Many supporters would claim our players were arrogant, that they believed they could win at the turn of a key. Others identified a lack of will or even laziness in the squad.
Although there might have been a bit of hubris involved, I believe the outcome was primarily a result of individual failures: Fernando Prass let two very defendable balls slip through, and Jean blew a penalty shot. SPFC were more vertical, more objective, and also lucky. When SPFC opened up the scorecard with 15 minutes on the clock in the second half, Cuca and Palmeiras quickly responded and things would have been very different had Jean converted. Instead, the bucket of cold water took the edge of Palmeiras’ aggressiveness.
This year’s Brazilian championship is likely to be a level affair. After three rounds, no team is 100%. Moreover, if we look at the ones still in the Libertadores Cup, four out of six are found in the bottom half of the Brasileirão tables.
With Internacional awaiting on Wednesday, there is no time for anything but hard work and focus. A draw at the Beira Rio, and Palmeiras are through to the quarterfinals in the Brazil Cup. Our opponent sacked their coach last weekend, putting an even stronger spin of unpredictability on the whole thing.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!