It’s no coincidence you haven’t seen São Paulo state championship match reports here at Anything Palmeiras this season: Palmeiras’ schedule has been insanely packed and directors and coach Ferreira early on came to the conclusion that this year’s Paulista – regardless of how much tradition and local rivalry is involved – would not be a priority. Although not publicly announced, the state championship has been a laboratory. An opportunity to test out new formations, give the bench more live action, see what promises from the youth divisions will step up to the challenge. And not least important: provide space for rest and training of the regular starters. These were the four priorities. Advancing from the group stage into the knockout round was never a priority.
But Palmeiras advanced, in yesterdays’ last round beating Ponte Preta 3-0 to pull the rug from underneath Novorizontino, unable to beat Corinthians to secure their spot.
In the last couple of weeks, many a sports journalist have been ranting about the “disgrace” it would be should Palmeiras not qualify, completely ignoring that Palmeiras made a rational choice and would have been fine with paying the price. Naturally. If you field a B and even a C side, there are limits to what is to be expected.
Coach Abel must be very pleased. Not only did Palmeiras qualify, but several youngsters showed they are ready to shoulder bigger responsibilities. Giovani is a good example. The young striker showed quality and pace, which have rendered him more frequent appearances on the Libertadores list. Defender Renan is another excellent example of a young player who took full advantage of the opportunities given in the Paulista, impressing everyone with his positioning and maturity, in the process overtaking the “favorite” Henri. Yesterday, defender Michel made his debut and had a great night. Pedro Bicalho is another player who has caused a solid impression and certainly will get more opportunities.
In addition to the youngsters, also players more seasoned but as of late mostly found on the bench showed they are still in the game. Gustavo Scarpa, slightly repositioned on the pitch, has been on fire in the last two games. Willian is also coming back to form. Jailson showed he can be trusted as Weverton’s immediate backup.
Best of both worlds, really. Palmeiras have been able to rest key players, fielding them in the Libertadores Cup and winning all games there. While discovering new and old talents within the squad. And still qualifying for the knockout phase of the Paulistão. A qualification actually received with mixed feelings. What peculiar times we live in.
Palmeiras today left for Ecuador. Tomorrow Tuesday, Independiente del Valle receive the Big Green for the fourth round of the Libertadores group stage. It’s then back to São Paulo to play hard nut Red Bull Bragantino in the quarterfinal of the Paulistão.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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*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.