Nobody could have imagined that the 2020 São Paulo state Championship would finish only in the early days of August. When it started, the coronavirus pandemic was a distant nightmare only happening in China. Months later, the tournament had to be interrupted and went into a pause that lasted more than three months. On the day of the final, Brazil achieved the horrifying number of a hundred thousand lives taken by the disease.
Palmeiras started the championship with Dudu as the fix star, Luxemburgo testing different formations, including using the Little Giant as an authentic offensive midfielder, the classic 10. We’ll never know if it would have worked, because Dudu left Palmeiras for Al Duhail in the middle of the break, amidst personal problems with his ex-wife.
Fortunately, Luxemburgo was able to find another formation that worked without Dudu, taking the team to the title, despite presenting a playing style that rendered some criticism (all forgotten after the epic victory against Corinthians). Luxa bet on the youth of Gabriel Menino and Patrick de Paula, paired with the experience of Ramires, to compose the midfield. It paid off, with Patrick being elected the revelation of the tournament, showing incredible mental strength requesting and executing with perfection the decisive penalty in the shootout.
Another tactical decision from Luxa that paid off was to pull back Felipe Melo to the defense, siding with Gustavo Gómez. The veteran showed an old dog can learn new tricks and made excellent exhibitions, rendering him a spot in the Team of the Championship together with another two Palmeiras players: forward Willian, who scored six goals, and aforementioned Patrick de Paula.
Some players are still in debt with supporters and will have to show a lot more consistency in the Brazilian Championship, not least Rony, Lucas Lima, Gustavo Scarpa and Raphael Veiga. Left-back Diogo Barbosa has been relegated to second violin with the arrival of Viña, but showed in the last games he can still be useful, although there are rumours he might be traded.
Below, some selected Palmeiras stats from the 2020 Paulista Championship:
Overall: 16 Games, 8 victories, 6 draws and 2 defeats (62.5% performance). 21 goals for and 7 goals against (+14 goal difference).
Home: 9 games, 6 victories and 3 draws (77.8% performance). 15 goals for and 4 goals against.
Away: 7 games, 2 victories, 3 draws and 2 defeats (42.9% performance). 6 goals for and 3 goals against.
Palmeiras featured best attack and best defense of the competition. Weverton achieved the impressive number of 10 clean sheets.
— ooo —
Usually, the São Paulo state Championship serves as a pre-season tournament, with the teams using the games to prepare for the group stage of the Libertadores Cup and tweaking the form ahead of the Brazilian Championship. That being said, it’s of course always good to raise the trophy, especially since it’s been 12 years since Palmeiras’ last Paulistão, and considering that our biggest rival was the other contender. And although the pre-season effect has been lost due to the three-month break, the title builds momentum ahead of the debut in the Brazilian League: Wednesday 12 August, 9:30 pm, away against Fluminense. The start of the quest leading up to our 11th triumph.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
– – – ooo – – –
by Augusto Anteghini Oazi