The gap of only three days between the Paulistão final and Palmeiras debut in the Libertadores became a concern. Would the team have enough time to celebrate, rest, practice and travel to Venezuela? Furthermore, after receiving a red card in the Recopa, coach Abel Ferreira wouldn’t be on the bench against Deportivo Táchira. Add to the list of setbacks the players needing to stay in São Paulo treating injuries. In short: Palmeiras would debut in the continental tournament with an alternative lineup, without coach Abel on the bench, away from home and with physical conditions far from ideal.
The sum of these obstacles came nowhere close of threatening the defending champions. Palmeiras crushed Deportivo Táchira from the beginning. Dudu scored the opener in the 8th minute and Raphael Veiga increased the lead in the 35th.
The players returned to the second half with the same intensity. Before the 53rd minute, Rafael Navarro, who came on after the break, had already bagged a brace – his first goals in the Palmeiras jersey – to practically guarantee the victory.
The large margin allowed for some substitutions in the last third of the game, sparing key players for Saturday’s Brasileirão debut, while also give opportunities to the likes of Giovani and Gabriel Menino.
Even with the substitutions, the rhythm continued intense. Unfortunately, midfielder Jailson was sent off in the 72nd minute after receiving a second yellow and Palmeiras had to play more defensively to save energy and mitigate risks until the final whistle.
Palmeiras initiate another Libertadores with a win and starts paving the way to the knockout stage. Three home victories should be enough to progress, but the aim is of course to finish the group stage at the top of the table, enjoying the advantage of playing return legs at home all the way up to the semi-finals.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi