A flawless strategy that spared our main players of the wear and tear in the group stage of the São Paulo state Championship took Palmeiras to the finals for the second consecutive year – a feat not seen at the club since 1992/1993. Progressing to the knockout stage ended up not being an easy ride, due to Palmeiras opting for never fielding the strongest eleven, but nevertheless our campaign was the fifth best overall and our spot was only in jeopardy due to Novorizontino’s performance, well above expected.
In the quarterfinal against Red Bull Bragantino, Abel opted for a mixed team and Rony’s sole goal sent us through to face Corinthians in the semifinal at the Neo Química Arena. With main starters rested thanks to the strategy applied throughout the championship, today was the time to honour the Derby lining up Palmeiras at full strength.
Corinthians have had a rollercoaster beginning to the season and would need a bit of luck to rattle the Big Gren. Palmeiras were not having any of it and already in the 13th minute set the tone: Raphael Veiga fought for the ball on the right wing and crossed to Rony, whose shot was defended by Cássio, but the ball offered itself to Victor Luís to effortlessly slot home. Taking the lead early allowed Palmeiras to do what the team does best: retreat slightly and patiently seek out those lightning-fast counter-attacks. With a bit more precission, the affair would have been settled already in the first half, Palmeiras being very much the superior side.
Things didn’t change much after the interval. Palmeiras returned with the same formation and attitude, continuing to be more dangerous than the rival. In the 76th minute, Luiz Adriano made an one-two with Rony and was given what seemed an eternity before pulling the trigger, sending the ball into the bottom right corner of Cássio to put final numbers to the game.
Corinthians were already dead when the referee conjured a penalty for the team in black and white in the 87th minute. However, no emotion was brought to the final minutes, as Luan failed to convert. A bit of pushing and shoving before the final whistle and the referee naively (?) distributed red cards, to all effect only causing damage to Palmeiras, as Corinthians were already eliminated. Zé Rafael will thus not play in the finals.
Weverton; Luan, Gustavo Gómez, Renan; Marcos Rocha, Felipe Melo (Danilo), Patrick de Paula, Raphael Veiga (Zé Rafael) and Victor Luis (Viña); Rony and Luiz Adriano (Danilo Barbosa).
Luan and Weverton received yellow cards. Zé Rafael received a direct red card.
A flawless performance at a Derby crowned with reaching the finals the first time Palmeiras treat the Paulistão as a pre-season tournament. Luiz Adriano had a superb afternoon and scored against Corinthians for the fourth time in a row.
The opportunities lost in the first half allowed Corinthians a few minutes of hope in the second half where they thought they could equalize. Palmeiras´ second goal put an end to those hopes. The penalty awarded Corinthians was silly and should have been avoided; Danilo needs to pay more attention inside the box.
It could and should have been a goleada…
Palmeiras today reaped the benefits of having rested the squad throughout the tournament. With a spot in the knockout stage of the Libertadores already guaranteed, Palmeiras can continue managing the squad for the finals of the Paulistão, with dates to be confirmed. Our opponent is however settled: eternal enemies São Paulo FC today beat Mirassol 4-0 to reach the finals. Splendid!
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi
*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.