The São Paulo state Championship did not end the way we wanted, but the bitterness is less related to losing the final than permitting our eternal enemy to celebrate their first title in many years.
Since the beginning of the tournament, Palmeiras relegated it to a second level of importance. The first round of the Paulistão was incredibly scheduled between the finals of the 2020 Brazil Cup, and more impressively, the Football Federation of São Paulo put a Derby against Corinthians to be played in this inaugural round.
Abel Ferreira chose alternative lineups for a majority of matches, lineups often filled with players from the youth divisions. Using the state competition as a laboratory almost cost us elimination in the group stage, but Novorizontino fumbled in the final matches, allowing Palmeiras to grab a spot in the quarterfinals.
Red Bull Bragantino were defeated in a tough game, where Abel fielded some of our very best in the second half to see Rony score the winner and propel us into the semifinals, where Corinthians awaited. The derby was the first match in the tournament in which Palmeiras used maximum strength and the result was an overwhelming 2-0 victory.
With Palmeiras in the finals, the relative lack of interest gave way to a desire to keep São Paulo FC on their 12-year streak without lifting a trophy. The first leg was a goalless affair, dominated by defensive excellence on both sides. The second leg featured much of the same, until a deflected shot changed everything in SPFC’s favour.
Although Palmeiras clearly minimized the importance of the Paulistão, a defeat against a longtime rival in the final has grave damaging potential we hope remains unleashed. The tournament proved excellent in providing youth players with experience, testing out new formations and positioning and bag some prize money. A third consecutive defeat in a final is a bit worrying, but the team should be able to overcome all this and launch into a season where Palmeiras, once more, is destined to be in the fight for every title available.
Below, some selected Palmeiras stats from the 2021 Paulista Championship:
Overall: 16 games, 8 victories, 4 draws and 4 defeats (58% of points won), 21 goals for, 12 goals against
Home: 7 games, 3 victories, 1 draws and 3 defeats (47.6% of points won), 9 goals for, 6 goals against
Away: 9 games, 5 victories, 3 draws and 1 defeats (66.6% of points won), 12 goals for, 6 goals against
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.