A goalless draw often indicates a boring game, but that was not the case yesterday: both Inter and in particular Palmeiras played well and our men could and perhaps should have returned to São Paulo with the three points.
Having a Libertadores Cup game in the middle of the week, Felipão opted for an alternative line-up to face the strong team from Porto Alegre. The starting-eleven was composed of Weverton; Marcos Rocha, Luan, Gustavo Goméz and Victor Luís (Diogo Barbosa); Thiago Santos, Moisés and Jean; Lucas Lima (Bruno Henrique), Hyoran (Willian) and Deyverson. Regulars Dudu, Borja, Felipe Melo and Edu Dracena were not even on the bench.
For the first 45 minutes, Palmeiras were in complete control, not allowing Inter a single opportunity to score. The Verdão on the other side created several chances, including Jean and Deyverson narrowly missing the target from inside the small box.
In the second half, Internacional threatened Weverton’s goal a little more, but the only clear opportunity was a point-blank header resulting from a corner, brilliantly saved by our keeper. Palmeiras again created several opportunities, but always to a less satisfying conclusion. In the end, the draw was not unfair.
Echoing the famous line in the club hymn, Palmeiras yesterday enjoyed their ninth straight clean sheet, overtaking Grêmio in the tables to rest in fourth in the Brazilian championship. Still, with São Paulo beating Ceará 1-0, the distance to the leader increased to eight points. Nevertheless, the draw must be considered a good result, and Palmeiras’ performance, even better. Come think of it, the performance warrants some additional reflection. Outplaying runners-up Internacional at the Beira-Rio – an opponent sustaining a five game victory streak – with an “alternative line-up”? Nah. There was nothing alternative about Palmeiras’ line-up, as competent and likely to get the job done as “the other” or any combination of the two. What Felipão today has at his disposal is a squad, where at least 22 men are truly interchangeable. As a consequence, and in recognition of the quality of the squad and Felipão’s singular work, here at Anything Palmeiras we shall avoid the term “alternative” for now.
Palmeiras now turn their attention to the Libertadores Cup and a game that should prove tougher than one might think. Having won the away leg 2-0, Palmeiras have a great advantage to secure a spot in the quarterfinals, but Cerro Porteño recently swapped coach and will come full throttle. Felipão knows not to take anything for granted and will do his outmost to impregnate this attitude in our men. To which effect, we will learn late Thursday night.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi and Kristian Bengtson