The advantage built in the first game could suggest the return leg would be a mere formality to put Palmeiras back in a Libertadores Cup final after 20 years. Yet, even the most optimistic palmeirense knew that if the opener were to be Argentinian, we would have a tense night. Our opponent – coached by the excellent Marcelo Gallardo – has been the best team of the continent in the last five years and yesterday rose to the occasion, keen on taking revenge after the humiliation imposed on them in Buenos Aires.
River opened the scorecard in the 29th minute and shortly before halftime, scored their second, putting tremendous pressure on Palmeiras. River could easily have scored a third, their dominance was impressive. In fact, they did score, but VAR stepped in to correctly annul the goal, and also correctly revert two penalty situations. Palmeiras had the margins on their side and were saved by luck and the brilliance of Weverton between the posts to advance to the final of the 2020 Libertadores Cup. Game date 30 January, at the Maracanã stadium, Rio de Janeiro, against Santos or Boca Juniors (tbc tonight).
YEAH!!! WE ARE IN THE FINALS!!! CELEBRATE, PALMEIRENSES!!!
Weverton; Marcos Rocha (Kuscevic), Gustavo Gómez (Luan), Alan Empereur and Viña; Danilo (Raphael Veiga), Zé Rafael (Emerson Santos) and Gabriel Menino; Gustavo Scarpa (Breno Lopes), Rony and Luiz Adriano.
Danilo, Alan Empereur, Luan, Marcos Rocha and Weverton received yellow cards.
Weverton embodied the spirit of São Marcos and performed at least five miracles to stop River’s third goal. This season definitely put his name on the history books as one of the greatest goalkeepers Palmeiras has ever had. Luiz Adriano was also massively important, one of the few of ours to step it up, tirelessly chasing down the ball and the opponents.
Excellent that the massacre River imposed at the Allianz Parque happened at a moment when Palmeiras could assimilate the blow. Breaking the invincibility ahead of the final was a brutal wake-up call and players are likely to be more attentive and focused in the final. Yesterday can largely be defined as a collective, mental breakdown: now is the time to learn from the experience and move on.
Oh God, so many things went wrong yesterday. And we lost Gustavo Gómez: our captain strained a muscle in his thigh, severity yet unknown. Still… We are Libertadores Cup finalists, so red light is surely off!
Upcoming Friday, Palmeiras receive Grêmio at the Allianz Parque for the 29th round of the Brazilian Championship. Leaders SPFC are, in theory, no more than three points ahead, as Palmeiras still have two postponed games to be played. Supporters may dream with the Brasileirão title in addition to the Brazil Cup and Libertadores, but after yesterday’s debacle against River Plate, coach Ferreira will likely field a very alternative starting eleven, opting for physically and mentally recover key players.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi & Kristian Bengtson
*Here at Anything Palmeiras, we love football. We love Palmeiras. We are always keen to see Palmeiras play, and keen to write about it for you. But we’re against the return of football in a country that still hasn’t controlled the coronavirus pandemic. We express our deepest sympathy to the families whose loved ones have been taken by the disease.