Against Grêmio upcoming Sunday, at the Pacaembu stadium, Felipão might very well have to improvise on both flanks. Marcos Rocha and Diogo Barbosa – right and left flank, respectively – both sustain injuries. Rocha’s immediate substitute, Mayke, will this afternoon be tried by the Superior Tribunal of Sports, as will Barbosa himself, for the post-game debacle against Cruzeiro in the Brazil Cup semi-finals. Both players could be looking at 12 games of suspension*. Barbosa’s substitute, Victor Luis, serves suspension after having received his third yellow against São Paulo.
Considering the above, Scolari is likely to promote the debut of Nico Freire on the left flank, the Argentine being the only remaining left-footed defender in the squad. “Hey, what about Luan Cândido” you might rightfully protest. Cândido, by “the Guardian” ranked as one of the 60 most promising players born in 2001, is serving the Brazilian U-20 team. Thus, Nico Freire it is and seja o que Deus quiser.
On the right flank, Jean is the obvious choice and not really an improvisation: this is the midfielder’s position of origin, so much so, he was Dani Alves’ backup during Brazil’s victorious 2013 Confederations Cup campaign, under Scolari.
Several other Palmeiras athletes are out of combat: Gustavo Scarpa and Artur (injured), Felipe Melo (suspended), Gustavo Gomez and Borja (defending Paraguay and Colombia, respectively). However, there are good options in the squad for all these positions. In any case, good thing the week has been free for training.
Grêmio have similar problems, with six regular starting-eleven players in the medical department. Certainly, the depths of the two squads will have a crucial impact on Sunday’s result.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
* Update: Mayke and Barbosa each received a two-game suspension; Sassá, the puncher, a six-game suspension.
** Update II: Palmeiras this morning were granted an injunction with suspensive effect, meaning both Mayke and Barbosa (should the latter recover from the ankle injury) are available against Grêmio.