Not even the most optimistic palmeirense could predict that Felipão’s arrival would result in so positive and immediate effects. Yesterday, against Vitória, Palmeiras achieved the 7th consecutive clean sheet, a streak not seen since 1992.
Against the team from Salvador, Felipão once again opted for an alternative line-up. Felipe Melo, Edu Dracena and Willian were not even on the bench, the starting-eleven consisting of Weverton; Marcos Rocha, Luan, Gustavo Gómez and Victor Luís; Thiago Santos, Bruno Henrique, Dudu, Lucas Lima and Hyoran; Deyverson.
Despite the alternative line-up, style of play remained the same as in previous games. Also, as in previous games, it worked perfectly. With 10 minutes on the clock, Deyverson opened the score with a beautiful right-footed shot.
Deyverson’s brace came in the 30th minute. Dudu took a corner and the centre-forward headed the ball firmly, giving no chance to the keeper. The two-goal advantage put Palmeiras in a very comfortable position, but unlike what we were getting used to during Roger Machado’s months at Palmeiras, the players did not relaxed. A curious scene defines Palmeiras’ new attitude: Deyverson tried some tricks with the ball, and team captain Bruno Henrique immediately scolded him, yelling “Play seriously!”, followed by an unprintable tirade.
In the second half, Palmeiras in a natural way continued creating opportunities to increase the advantage, while Vitória were stuck, never seriously threatening Weverton’s goal. Palmeiras’ third came with Dudu in the 59th minute: our number 7 beautifully dribbled the defenders before gently placing the ball in the back of the net.
Palmeiras stacked up plenty more of opportunities to score, and the waste of these opportunities is the only cloud on an otherwise blue sky. Victor Luis, for example, managed to shoot above the crossbar being less than five meters from the goal.
The victory takes Palmeiras to 33 points, with the first half of the championship played. By this time last season, Palmeiras had 32 points, an astonishing 15 behind the leader. This year, Palmeiras are trailing leader São Paulo by eight. The title is very much a possibility, although one must remember that Palmeiras are (very) alive in three tournaments (Brasileirão, the Brazil Cup and the Libertadores), while São Paulo have nothing but the Brasileirão to worry about. That translates into much more time for training and resting for our competitors. And also why Felipão is so determined to give our whole squad opportunities: he knows he will need each and every player in the months to come.
Palmeiras’ next game is on Wednesday, against Botafogo at the Allianz Parque, with 15 thousand tickets already sold. For this reunion, Felipão will probably line-up a more regular formation, seeking to maintain the unbeaten sequence and please the home crowd.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi