Chapecoense’s first home defeat in the 2018 Brazilian championship. Palmeiras’ first victory, in history, at the Condá Arena. The combination of results of this the 22nd round compacted the difference between the top five to six points: São Paulo (46), Internacional (43), Flamengo (41), Grêmio and Palmeiras (40).
No doubt considering Thursday’s exhaustive game – playing Cerro with one man short for 100 minutes – and the rain-drenched pitch in Chapecó, Luiz Felipe Scolari once again rotated the squad, opting for a line-up never before seen: Weverton; Mayke (Jean), Luan, Gómez and Victor Luis (Diogo Barbosa); Thiago Santos and Felipe Melo; Willian, Lucas Lima (Bruno Henrique) and Hyoran; Borja.
13 degrees Celsius, but the cool air only bothered some of the kids entering the pitch with the players: the game was a heated affair from start to finish, mainly taking place on the midfield. Felipe Melo, surprisingly, put out one of his best performances this season: focused, risk-aware, moderate in his combativeness, excellent in distributing the ball. His cross, targeting Hyoran, opened the scorecard with 13 minutes on the clock and Palmeiras controlled the action up until halftime.
For the second half, Felipão swapped Victor Luis, booked, for Diogo Barbosa. Eight minutes later, Hyoran found Borja in the box and the Colombiam, surrounded by FOUR adversaries, was able to break free with the ball and get it past the keeper to increase Palmeiras’ lead. Less than ten minutes later, Chape diminished the advantage, but were never really close to completely close the gap. Again, Felipão’s pragmatism proved the correct bet: he reinforced the midfield with Bruno Henrique and fenced Chapecoense off until the final whistle, securing the valuable three points.
In addition to already mentioned Felipe Melo, applause to Thiago Silva, tremendously effective defensively. Also Hyoran and Borja stood out, not only because of the goals, but for their hard-working attitude throughout the game.
Upcoming Wednesday, Palmeiras receive Atlético Paranaense at the Allianz Parque. A game as important as any other, three points as important as any other. At least on paper. It is pointless denying that everybody’s mind is already on Sunday’s clash with Corinthians. Remembering that last time the Allianz Parque hosted the derby, was when the infamous external interference incident changed the outcome of the 2018 São Paulo state championship.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!