Felipão’s style seems already to be running in the veins of our players. One more clean sheet, the sixth consecutive, secured classification to the Brazil Cup semifinals after yet another solid performance.
For the game against Bahia, Luiz Felipe Scolari had the returns of Marcos Rocha and Willian, but Jean and Scarpa had to be spared. Following the logic of previous games, the starting-eleven was composed of Weverton; Mayke, Antônio Carlos, Edu Dracena and Diogo Barbosa; Felipe Melo, Bruno Henrique and Moisés; Willian, Dudu and Borja.
Despite the lack of goals in the first half, many opportunities were created. Palmeiras wasted at least three clear chances to score, two of them with the player face to face with the goalkeeper. Bahia also blew a great opportunity, with Edigar Junio hitting the post from inside the box and Gilberto’s shot being blocked by his own teammate on the rebound.
Felipão kept the same formation as we went into the second half, Palmeiras slightly improving control but not creating as much offensively, Bahia showing the reason for their unbeaten streak of eight games. The scenario changed in the 28th minute in a rather unexpected way: Mayke and Moisés executing a quick one-two deep on the right, Mayke crossing the ball perfectly to be met in a diving header by the shortest player in the squad, Dudu.
Ten minutes after the goal, Felipão swapped Borja for Thiago Santos; a defensive midfielder replacing a center-forward. Classic Felipão and very efficient. Palmeiras shut close like an oyster to secure the spot in the semifinals of the Brazil Cup, where Cruzeiro await. In the other semifinal, Flamengo and Corinthians battle it out.
The game illustrates the point to which the style of play of our newly arrived coach has been understood by the squad. Intensity is present in every moment, and so is pragmatism. Palmeiras suffering late-minute equalizers seems a thing of the past. The amount of clear opportunities wasted is however a problem yet to be solved.
Palmeiras now turn their attention back to the Brazilian Championship and the three rounds anticipating the 2nd leg against Cerro Porteño for the Libertadores Cup group of 16. Securing at least six out of the nine points is imperative to remain close to the leaders and build confidence ahead of the knockout tournament games. First Brasileirão game is this upcoming Sunday, against Vitória, at the Barradão Stadium, Salvador.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi