Palmeiras 0-0 Atlético Mineiro – disguised evolution

Palmeiras’ recent games serve as the ideal backdrop for a discussion regarding results vs perception of evolution. Clearly, in terms of points won, Palmeiras are not where expected: the initial victory against Vasco was followed by two away defeats – against Chapecoense and SPFC – and yesterday’s goalless draw against Atlético. Four points in four games, 12th place in the tables, six points behind leaders Chapecoense.

Add last week’s defeat against Internacional, that nevertheless qualified Palmeiras to the Brazil Cup quarterfinals, and it would be safe to assume Cuca is lost, right? Wrong. The squad and Cuca seem confident it is just a matter of time for pieces to fall into place, and there are indeed indicators of progress. Both against São Paulo and yesterday against Atlético, Palmeiras exercised control. What is lacking is more verticality, more objectivity, and more finalising power. All these components are improving slightly, game by game. Cuca is not afraid to try out the pieces at his disposal, including the newcomers Juninho and Mayke, the latter doing a good job at the right flank. Keno is another one eager to grab a spot in the starting eleven, yesterday’s performance strengthening his shares.

In particular three key players are underperforming: Tchê Tchê, Dudu and Jean. All these are crucial for a good transition between defence and offense, which partially explains why few balls reach Borja, the forward struggling to regain the confidence so important for a striker. With a bit more overall mesh, and the aforementioned four players snapping back to the levels of performance we are used to, Palmeiras will turn lethal. Not least if starting to convert penalty shots…

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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