Abel made changes to the usual starting-eleven in the Libertadores Cup, promoting Felipe Melo and Zé Rafael as the duo in midfield. Luan and Gustavo Gómez remained in centre lock, on the left and right side respectively, repeating the positioning of the last match against Chapecoense. In attack, Dudu, Rony and Luiz Adriano composed the selected trio.
The game started with both teams studying the opponent, but soon Atlético Mineiro seemed to get the upper hand, exercising superiority, while Palmeiras focused on keeping a clean sheet. Everything was running according to the plan until Gómez took Diego Costa down inside the box. Penalty for Atlético, Hulk stepped up to the spot but sent the ball into Weverton’s left post, leaving the scorecard untouched.
The second half didn’t present anything new. Palmeiras’ exhibition and Abel’ substitutions indicated that the primary objective was indeed a goalless draw. Any draw with goals or a simple victory in the return leg propels Palmeiras into their second consecutive Libertadores Cup final.
Weverton; Marcos Rocha, Luan, Gustavo Gómez and Piquerez; Felipe Melo (Danilo), Zé Rafael (Patrick de Paula) and Raphael Veiga; Dudu (Wesley), Rony (Gabriel Veron) and Luiz Adriano (Deyverson).
Zé Rafael received a yellow card.
The goal of keeping a clean sheet at home was achieved. Palmeiras blocked Nacho Fernández, Atlético’s playmaker, and enjoyed a bit of luck reserved for champions to see Hulk blow the penalty.
Abel is the one training the team every day, but some decisions are difficult to understand. Until recently Scarpa was our most important player and yesterday he didn’t get even a few minutes on field. Dudu, the star of the team, got subbed instead of Rony. Finally, opting for an ultra-defensive style of play at home… Well, everything we’re questioning now will be forgotten when the team advances to the final.
Palmeiras were effectively null in the attack. Although the opponent have a more qualified team, Palmeiras should have tried to threat Éverson’s target just a little.
Before the return leg next Tuesday, Palmeiras have only a derby against Corinthians to be played on Saturday the 25th. Although the importance of the Libertadores semifinal is undisputedly higher, coach Abel knows he must win the derby to build a positive momentum among players and supporters.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
– – – ooo – – –
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.