São Paulo are an excellent sparring partner. Nine visits to the Allianz Parque, eight defeats. The sum of these nine clashes, known in Brazil as the Choque-Rei, computes 24 goals scored by Palmeiras, against four by SPFC. Humiliating.
Ahead of yesterday’s clash, most expected a level affair: São Paulo experiencing a bit of a momentum after victories against Atlético and Avaí; Palmeiras with one draw and one unconvincing victory. Would Palmeiras present more of the same, lukewarm, inefficiency? Or would the presence of the arch-enemy finally trigger a reaction?
The answer came already in the 12th minute, when Bruno Henrique scored the opener. Palmeiras kept the pressure up and wasted numerous opportunities until, in the 42th minute, Felipe Melo increased the lead through a header. Gustavo Scarpa put final numbers to the game in the 57th minute. Hands down Palmeiras’ best performance under Mano Menezes.
Weverton; Marcos Rocha (Jean), Gustavo Gómez, Vitor Hugo and Diogo Barbosa; Felipe Melo (Thiago Santos), Bruno Henrique and Scarpa; Zé Rafael (Willian), Dudu and Deyverson.
Green light with honours to the whole team. This was the kind of performance we were missing since the Copa América break. With nine rounds to go, should Palmeiras keep this level of performance, focus and dedication throughout, certain pressure will be put upon Flamengo. True, the distance to the leaders is considerable, but so much can happen in that final sprint towards the title… Five weeks is an eternity, sometimes.
Palmeiras wasted a bucketload of opportunities, the scorecard could easily have been 5-0, 6-1.
Red light off for today.
Yesterday was Nickollas’ birthday and in addition to the victory against São Paulo, he received another precious gift: before kickoff, supporters at the Allianz Parque sang happy birthday to him. Sweet!
Palmeiras have a golden opportunity to keep the momentum Saturday, at the Allianz Parque, against Ceará. The opponent is fighting relegation and would certainly be content with a draw. This is the kind of game Palmeiras have had trouble with previously: time to show that gears have shifted.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi & Kristian Bengtson