“Hit men inte längre”, as one would say in Swedish. What you risk when placing knockout tournaments in the driver’s seat of yearly planning. Not reaching the semi-finals in the Brazil Cup provides a reality check: Cuca and the squad have much work to do and unless progress is made fast, there is a serious risk the whole year goes down the drain. On 9 August, Palmeiras receive Barcelona de Guayaquil with the one objective: revert the 1-0 defeat suffered in Ecuador to advance to the quarterfinals of the Libertadores Cup. Anything less would be a fiasco, as two rounds short of halfway through the Brazilian championship, Palmeiras rest in 5th place, with 26 points, amazing 14 points behind leader Corinthians at 40 (Grêmio 32, Santos 30, Flamengo 28).
“Expect a great game of football”, I wrote Monday. Not quite. What we experienced against Cruzeiro was an endless staccato, a footballing parody only worth watching for those with any stake in the result. With few scoring opportunities on either side, the draw was fair, although Palmeiras could and should have walked away with victory. Key players performed beyond their capacity: Mina, Dudu, Guedes… Borja deserves a special mentioning, getting absolutely nothing right. Deyverson had better be ready.
No more excuses. As of now, Cuca will not only have the full squad at his disposal, but also more time to train. Palmeiras have no obligation to win anything, but certainly have the obligation to go all in in both remaining competitions – the Brasileirão and Libertadores.
Keep the faith. It’s the one thing we can do. That, and support the team.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!