Palmeiras paid the price of having success. The finals of the São Paulo state Championship coincide with the last week of games in the group stage of the Libertadores Cup. By merit and due to prioritizing the continental tournament at the potential expense of the Paulistão, Palmeiras had already secured a spot in the knockout stage. Thus, coach Abel felt at ease lining up an alternative team and spare the regulars for the two-legged final against São Paulo.
The game was fast-paced. Inattention in our defense, mainly from Zé Rafael, allowed Defensa y Justicia to score two goals, but after each of them, Palmeiras quickly equalized, first with Zé Rafael and later with Willian.
The second half carried on in the same fashion, and our sleepy defense saw Defensa y Justicia once more take the lead in the 52nd minute. This time, Palmeiras took longer to respond, but a beautiful goal from Scarpa levelled the score in the 75th minute. The game was heading for a draw, but Vanderlan was sent off in the 90th minute and just as in the Recopa final, Palmeiras allowed a last minute winner for the opponent.
Jailson; Danilo Barbosa, Luan and Vanderlan; Lucas Lima, Danilo, Zé Rafael (Gabriel Menino), Scarpa and Viña; Wesley (Giovani) and Willian.
Gustavo Scarpa and Luan received yellow cards. Vanderlan received two of them and was sent off in the 90th minute.
With the progress to the knockout stage already guaranteed, the game was yet another opportunity for Abel trying out new options. Some are positive: Scarpa is returning to his best moments, Wesley is recovering game rhythm and Vanderlan showed potential, in spite of being sent off.
Palmeiras pole position in the group is not at risk, but there are some teams that now can overtake our campaign in the overall standings. This could lead to some return legs being played away, but since the final is a single leg (and thus on neutral ground), a victory in the last round may be enough to keep Palmeiras in the top-2, guaranteeing the right to play at the Allianz Parque all the way up to the semifinals.
The alternative line-up justifies a defeat for a strong opponent, as Defensa y Justicia, but the way their goals were scored is slightly worrying: Jailson stood little chance to avoid any of them, as the DYJ players were always free to fire away at point blank.
Before the last round of the group stage, Palmeiras have to play the finals of the São Paulo state Championship. The opponent are long time enemies São Paulo, for the first time since the Paulistão 1992 our opponents in a tournament final. This title is a second-class prize for Palmeiras, but it means the life for our enemy, on a title draught since 2008. So let’s ruin the party.
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.