I suspected and it happened. Abel Ferreira is a monster sailing in known waters, but he has more difficulties in unknown seas. Cuca dared, set up a different Atlético Mineiro, with a formation that was not expected by the palmeirense coach. And it almost did. Galo’s problem is that he couldn’t keep up the pace beyond the middle of the second half.
Gustavo Scarpa is the name of the tie. Palmeiras’ best player at the time kept the team alive while suffering. Practically alone, he didn’t let Palmeiras succumb and, when things got better, in the final stretch. he was there to help. In the end, 2-2 and an extraordinary score for a resilient two-time Libertadores champion, who simply refuses to lose.
Scarpa hit the free kick that generated Murilo’s goal on the rebound, and, in stoppage time, he took a corner that ended in Danilo’s equalizing goal – one that made, perhaps, his worst game for Palmeiras.
Daniel is just an example. Nobody worked at Palmeiras for 60 minutes – except, of course, Scarpa. The midfielder didn’t even take the field in last year’s duel. Since then, he has gained space and is now an absolute starter. Fundamental in all aspects of the game.
From a brilliantly missed free kick by Scarpa on the crossbar, Murilo’s rebound and goal came. At this point in the match, Atlético was winning by 2 to 0 and pressing, with chances to “kill” the duel. After the Palmeiras goal, the dynamics of the game changed, Abel hit the exchanges and the current two-time champion of America sought a tie that seemed impossible. Before Danilo’s goal, Dudu missed an unbelievable goal at the end, after a pass by (guess who?) Scarpa.
Cuca surprised Abel by removing Nacho from the team to give him more speed and verticality. It was impossible to predict such “sacrilege”, and Palmeiras took a long time to adjust to a quick game, with Keno on one side, Ademir on the other, Zaracho on the field and Hulk inspired.
In 15 minutes, Galo could already be winning by 2 to 0. It took too long, lost clear chances, allowed Palmeiras to make some insertions. Even so, he scored the first goal at the end of the first half, after a silly penalty by Marcos Rocha on Jair. Unlike last year, Hulk got it right. The second half started with an own goal by Murilo, which left the score in a way more consistent with what had happened in the first.
Lost on the field, Palmeiras got rid of taking a third goal. And then came Scarpa’s foul – a silly foul, let’s say, committed by Keno in the defense field, after a lost ball.
From there, Palmeiras grew, Atlético returned to being a team more similar to the first half – slow and bumpy. The tie came out. It’s a very open tie, as Atlético have the human material to win in São Paulo. But Cuca lost the surprise factor, and Palmeiras have Scarpa, Abel and a confidence that we have rarely seen a team show in history.