Palmeiras did exactly what palmeirenses are sick and tired of seeing: take an easy task and make it difficult. After performing incredibly well against Grêmio last Wednesday, Palmeiras had against Ceará a golden opportunity to move into second place in the 2018 Brasileirão, but did not seize it.
With many players suspended or (slightly) injured, Roger had to opt for a very different starting-eleven. Thiago Martins and Victor Luis entered the defensive line and the midfield was composed by Thiago Santos, Jean and Lucas Lima, pieces that had not played together before yesterday.
The initial minutes nevertheless showed that Palmeiras intended to guarantee the result early on, applying pace and aggressiveness. In the fifth minute, Thiago Santos scored the opener and, in the 22nd minute, Dudu increased the lead. Ceará created nothing and the only question was how large a defeat Palmeiras would inflict on the opponent.
However, Palmeiras enjoy playing tricks on their supporters. Three minutes after Palmeiras’ second goal, Felipe Azevedo scored for Ceará: a cross that suffered no interception as it passed through Palmeiras’ whole defence, including Jailson, to be met by the striker’s forehead by the farthest post. Time for Palmeiras to keep the pressure up and again increase the lead, you would think. But no, the team deaccelerated and slow-cooked the rest of the first half.
In the second half, Palmeiras “dominated” the game, “controlled it”, even produced some half-assed opportunities to score the third and effectively kill it, but the squad, in its totality, oozed hauteur, as if they could define the outcome anytime they wanted, at the flick of a switch.
Punishment was delivered with usual, impeccable precision: in the 43rd minute, an unpretentious crossed ball offered itself to Ceará forward Élton to equalise the score. The referee added five minutes of injury time and FINALLY, our players let go of the handbrake, much too late. Two precious points lost, points as valuable as any other, but so much easier to bag than against Grêmio or next Wednesday’s opponent Flamengo. Flamengo who beat Paraná 2-0 to reach 26 points, now 8 points ahead of Palmeiras, parked in 6th. We could and damn should have been in second, with 20 points. Ridiculous. Ceará in ten games had scored four goals, and yesterday increased this total by 33%.
Palmeiras play well against strong teams and badly against weak teams. This mentality has to change, urgently. A championship is won or lost over two points like yesterday’s.
A victory on Wednesday is mandatory to reduce the points difference and to bring a minimum of peace to the club during the World Cup break.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi