Two weeks back, things looked on track. Took only two games to spin everything out of control. The disappointing results against Cruzeiro and Corinthians did not only kill the championship aspirations but also the spirit of the group, feeling tired of the constant, uphill battle against all and everything, including the refereeing and outrageously biased media. The early mesh we sensed has dissolved into chaos, Palmeiras defensively leaking like a sieve and offensively depending on individual burst of creativity. Vitória had not experienced victory at the Barradão stadium for months but hit the locker rooms at halftime leading 3-1; a result that stood the test of time, partly due to an incorrectly disallowed goal by Palmeiras midfielder Guerra. Keep counting how many times the refereeing has disfavoured Palmeiras in 2017. Disheartening.
Alberto Valentim now finds himself needing to conquer exactly what he was mocked for vocalising: a spot in the top 4. With five rounds to go, Palmeiras are in fourth, with 54 points, three ahead of Botafogo and four ahead of Flamengo. Santos in third with 56, Grêmio second with 57 and Corinthians, nine fingers on the trophy, heading the tables with 65.
Can Valentim pick up the pieces and glue them back together, saving what’s left of the season? There is no other option available.
Flamengo at home on Sunday, then relegation-threatened Sport, then another relegation candidate – Avaí – away, then Botafogo at home and Atlético Paranaense away. That is the sequence which will define whether Palmeiras’ 2017 was a failure or a disgrace.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!