Runners-up to Flamengo in the silly Supercopa, where the Brazil Cup champions play the Brazilian League champions. In the end a well-played one-legged affair, squeezed in between the home and away games of the Recopa. After 2-2 on regular time, a penalty shootout sealed the outcome.
Runners-up to Defensa y Justicia in the slightly less silly Recopa, where the Copa Libertadores champions play the Copa Sudamericana champions. Palmeiras left Argentina with a 2-1 advantage but at home, one man short, in the dying minute conceded the goal that meant extra time and penalties, where the Big Green again drew the shorter straw.
Back in Brazil two days later to play in the São Paulo state championship, Palmeiras fielded whatever rested players available to lose 1-0 against full strength SPFC after an individual error in defence.
Two days later, again in the state championship, this time against Botafogo/SP, a starting eleven composed of almost entirely young guns treated us to a goalless draw.
The above is the backdrop.
Today, one day after yesterday’s draw, the team travels to Lima, ahead of Wednesday’s debut in the 2021 Copa Libertadores against Universitario.
Then, in the 20 days to follow, starting the count as of Thursday, Palmeiras play another 9 games: 6 for the state championship and 3 Copa Libertadores games. We kid you not. We’re looking at a total of 15 games in 35 days.
Muscle fatigue has already kicked in: Veron, Wesley, Veiga, Breno Lopes, Gabriel Menino…
For some, none of the above matters. There are morons in any given groups of supporters and “our” morons spray painted their dissatisfaction on the walls of the Allianz Parque after the defeat against SPFC. Of course, media cannot get enough of it. Never mind a couple of months ago we were celebrating the most victorious season in the Club’s 106-year history.
Coach Abel Ferreira surely wonders what the heck is going on. Wonders how Palmeiras can accept such an absurd match schedule. Wonders why there are no reinforcements (except for 25-year-old defensive midfielder Danilo Barbosa, who arrived in March on a loan deal with Nice, France). Wonders why the club’s directors aren’t covering his back. Wonders if the “We Stand United” talk only kicks in when trophies are about to be lifted. Wonders if President Galliote will show his face, take the lead, on anything.
Only Palmeiras are capable of singlehandedly whip up a storm of this magnitude. Little did Abel Ferreira know his real challenge would not be transform the squad into a winning machine but endure what were to come after that.
Abel was a godsend. Palmeiras seem determined to fulfil the “easy come, easy go” dictum.