Earlier in the week, Luiz Antônio Venker de Meneze – popularly known as Mano Menezes – was formally presented as Palmeiras coach, replacing Luiz Felipe Scolari. Last month Menezes was fired from Cruzeiro – having commanded the Belo Horizonte club for three seasons and bagged two Brazil Cups and two state championships – and he did not need much time to think before taking up the offer; after all, the coach has been on Palmeiras’ radar for at least a couple of years. His contract with Palmeiras runs until end of 2021.
Among palmeirenses, Mano Menezes’ name caused sentiments of concern and outright rejection. The 57-year-old is by many alviverde supporters viewed as arrogant, pragmatic and defence-oriented. Having harvested a couple of trophies with Corinthians in 2009 doesn’t help. During last Thursday’s press conference, Menezes showed he’s well aware of the internal resistance, getting off to a good start by saying the right things, respecting Palmeiras’ history and supporters, treating the press with courtesy and showing eagerness to work. Two days before the away game against Goiás… What could possibly be done in such a short period of time?
Quite a bit, apparently. The line-up was not revolutionary – Jaílson (Weverton serving the national squad); Marcos Rocha, Luan, Vitor Hugo and Diogo Barbosa; Bruno Henrique, Ramires (Lucas Lima), Scarpa; Zé Rafael (Willian), Dudu and Luiz Adriano (Borja) – but Scarpa’s and Dudu’s positioning a bit different. The bigger change was noted during substitutions, where Mano was more daring than we’ve normally seen under Scolari. In addition, he promoted Lucas Lima in a novel position, further back, which greatly improved Palmeiras ball possession and distribution. Coincidence, beginner’s luck, skill? Yesterday, it worked.
After an amazingly long period of one year and three months, Palmeiras finally turned a game around after having been behind on the scorecard. Palmeiras created many chances and the last-second winner was more than deserved – especially when considering Palmeiras were one man short at the time, Lucas Lima hitting the showers early after receiving the yellow twice.
For the eighth consecutive game, Palmeiras were unable to produce a clean sheet. Yesterday, the defensive line was solid, but Goiás centre-back Raphael Vaz fired away from very far and caught Jaílson inattentive and badly positioned.
The VAR in Palmeiras’ games continues acting suspiciously. Luiz Adriano scored what would have been the equaliser, but the referee ruled a debatable foul and VAR wasn’t used. In today’s Santos vs Athlético, the referee called a debatable foul and outside the area, but VAR was used to award the penalty. Every single round, VAR is taking flak. And will continue to, if nothing is done to harmonize decision-making and improve transparency.
On Tuesday night Palmeiras take on Fluminense at the Allianz Parque, a hanging game from round 16. A victory would diminish the gap to leaders Flamengo to a mere three points.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
– – – ooo – – –
by Augusto Anteghini Oazi & Kristian Bengtson