The lineup looked good enough: Weverton; Marcos Rocha, Luan, Gustavo Gómez and Diogo Barbosa; Thiago Santos, Bruno Henrique (Raphael Veiga) and Gustavo Scarpa (Zé Raphael); Willian (Deyverson), Dudu and Luiz Adriano. With the advantage of playing for a draw, Palmeiras got a dream start, scoring the opener at the Pacaembu within 15 minutes. The two-goal advantage put the team in a very comfortable position to secure a spot in the semi-finals. Perhaps too comfortable… It is impressive the speed and the intensity by which Palmeiras take us from heaven to hell.
In less than five minutes, Grêmio turned the game around, suddenly putting all the pressure on Palmeiras. And while Palmeiras did create some good opportunities in the first half, particularly towards the end, efforts died in the woodwork and Willian’s lack of luck.
And that was pretty much it. Palmeiras came back to the second half with Deyverson substituting Willian and ‘coincidentally’ all attacking opportunities were spoiled one after another, Palmeiras didn’t take another shot at goal until the final whistle, putting an effective end to our supporters’ obsession of once more bagging the Libertadores Cup.
Although Felipe Melo’s absence was felt yesterday, the individual defensive mistakes, the lack of inspiration in the attack and Scolari’s stubbornness paved the way for Grêmio’s comeback, inflicting on us the season’s third elimination – all three seeing Palmeiras construct an advantage in the first leg and fall through in the second.
The blame is to be shared by everyone, but a significant part must also be attributed to management. For some time now, Palmeiras stand without leadership and chain of command. Who steps up when needed, assumes responsibility, takes the rap, slams a fist in the table and indicates the way forward? Nobody.
Palmeiras, with one game less played, are only three points behind Flamengo in the Brazilian Championship. Sunday is nothing but a tremendous opportunity to take us all from hell back to heaven, the Maracanã Stadium set for an epic clash against the leader. This squad, this coach, brought us our tenth Brasileirão title last season. There are clear signals the team is finally returning to form after the Copa América break. Redemption time!
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
—- ooo —-
by Augusto Anteghini Oazi and Kristian Bengtson