On 3 August, Luiz Felipe Scolari was presented as the new coach of Palmeiras. Last Sunday, 11 November, the third passage of the coach at the Verdão reached 100 days. As common in American politics, let’s analyse the results of the first 100 days of Felipão’s “presidency”.
The Brazil Cup was the tournament where Felipão exercised the least influence. The coach arrived when the team was already in the quarterfinals, classified to the next stage, but was soon afterwards eliminated by Cruzeiro on the semi-finals.
However, the classification to the semi-finals should be celebrated: this was only the third time that Palmeiras reached this stage of the competition in the XXI century (previously, both ended in cup titles: 2012, with Felipão, and 2015, with Marcelo Oliveira).
Performance in the Brazil Cup: 4G, 1W, 2D, 1L, 2GF, 2GA
Roger Machado left Palmeiras as the best team of the group stage of the Libertadores Cup, invincible and having won all the away games. Felipão made good use of the second leg at home advantage to take the team to the semi-finals, a stage the Verdão had not reached since 2001.
In the round of 16 and in the quarterfinals, Palmeiras constructed a two-goal advantage in the first leg, despite playing away. In the round of 16, the team sweated blood to classify after Felipe Melo had received the red card already in the third minute. In the quarterfinals, the classification came much easier, in a 2-0 almost resembling a training session.
In the first leg of the semi-finals against Boca Juniors, the team comfortably held on to a goalless draw until the 83rd minute, when two goals in five minutes transformed the classification into an almost impossible mission. At the Allianz Parque, a 2-2 result sealed Palmeiras’ elimination.
Performance in the Libertadores: 6G, 3W, 1D, 2L, 8GF, 5GA
Famous for his performance in knockout competitions, it is in the Brazilian Championship, a round-robin competition, that Felipão has fielded an alternative team for most of the games, and to splendid result, highlighting his coaching abilities.
Felipão took command of the team in the 17th round, in sixth position, eight points behind the leaders. In the following seventeen games, the team performed astoundingly: it took ten rounds to advance to the top and today, after 33 rounds, Palmeiras enjoy a five-point gap to the runners-up, so far invincible with Felipão in command.
In addition, Felipão won the three state rivals, breaking a 16-year taboo of not winning at the Morumbi and coming out on top against Corinthians and Santos.
Performance in the Brazilian Championship (so far): 17G, 12W, 5D, 0L (!!!), 27GF, 8GA
During his last spell at Palmeiras, Felipão was known for asking his club directors for “shrimps”, while teaching players as Vinícius, Tinga and Patrik to kick and pass a ball. Nowadays, everything is different. The team is full of good, and some even great players, but Felipão’s predecessor, Roger, even so could not make most of them perform well.
Felipão arrived, put things in order and more or less divided the squad into two competitive teams, but without creating division among players. He installed the “Scolary Family”, giving opportunity to forgotten players (Luan, Deyverson and Hyoran), seizing the new arrival (Gustavo Gómez) and giving the supporters what they were expecting: battle for the title in all the competitions.
Between the players, the most notable change is found in Dudu. Clearly struggling during the first half of the season, criticised by many supporters, our number 7 is again the decisive players he was during the victorious 2015 and 2016 campaigns. In 13 games under Roger in the Brazilian Championship, Dudu scored three goals, made three assists and averaged 7.08 in the WhoScored index. With Felipão, Dudu has already played 12 times in the Brazilian Championship, scored three goals, made eight assists and averaged 7.53 in the aforementioned index. The good performances as of late have propelled him into top candidate for the ESPN’s Golden Ball award.
Felipão would have returned to any team in Brazil in discredit: four titles in China would not have been sufficient to erase the memory of the 7-1 World Cup trashing. Not at Palmeiras. Here, Felipão was received as the icon and champion he is, idolised. Our supporters embraced the coach, the team, and the results followed suit.
Palmeiras are five points clear of the competition Three more victories and a draw practically guarantee the Brazilian League title for the tenth time to the Verdão, completing Felipão’s redemption.
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi