Last night Palmeiras played the second leg off the first round of the Libertadores’ playoffs. Sport wins 1-0 and the game was decided on penalties shoot-out, since Palmeiras had won 1-0 in the first leg. Marcos saved three shoots and Palmeiras is classified to the quarter-finals of Libertadores da America.
First Leg: Palmeiras 1×0 Sport
In the first leg, played a week ago, Palmeiras made a great game, but the post/bar saved Sport from suffering a bigger defeat:
Luxemburgo started the game with a 4-3-3 formation, and the three strikers kept Sport’s wing-backs fully defensive. With Pierre marking Paulo Baier (Sport’s playmaker), Sport had no way to create chances against Palmeiras – which summed with the defensive strategy of the team.
With no fear of suffering and harm, Palmeiras went to attack, but was not successful, since the wingers were in poor form. In the second half, Luxemburgo took them out, putting Ortigoza (striker) to have more presence in Sports box and Mozart (defensive midfielder) to let Cleiton Xavier attacks with no defensive roles.
Ortigoza changed the game, suffering the foul that sent off Sport defender and heading to score in the set-piece of that same foul took by Cleiton Xavier.
Palmeiras’ had some opportunities with Keirrison and Diego Souza, but wasn’t lucky enought to score another goal.
Second Leg: Sport 1(1)x(3)0 Palmeiras (pen.)
The second leg was similar to the first one, but Sport was the attacking team, while Palmeiras’ stand back. The result was the same, but for Sport, and since there’s no extra-time in Libertadores, the game was decided on penalties. Marcos’ star shinned once again, he saves three shoots and classified Palmeiras:
Different from the first leg, Luxemburgo committed some wrong decisions on this game. He choosed a defensive formation that was prety obviously, and Sports’ coach Nelsinho Baptista had no difficult to prepare Sport for that formation.
Luxemburgo also choose to let Souza to mark Paulo Baier, not Pierre, and Sport’s playmaker had a easier life than in the first game. Luxemburgo also set Cleiton Xavier with a very defensive role, with took off Palmeiras’ playmaker from starting possible counter-attacks, leaving Diego Souza and Keirrison alone in the opposite field.
Besides that, Palmeiras defended itself prety good. But Palmeiras’ defense is not very good, and in one of the fails, Paulo Baier lost an amazing opportunity.
In second half Luxemburgo made two horrible changes: took of Keirrison for Ortigoza, and Diego Souza for Willians. It’s understandable why he did that: Keirrison is not a player that holds up the bal prety well, and he thought that Ortigoza could do that better, and Willians is faster than Diego Souza to try a counter-attack.
But the other face of the coin is that Diego Souza is the best player in Palmeiras squad to hold the ball. He is strong and a greater dribbler. Besides, he is the best player to create an opportunity by himself, as he did in the game against Sport in the group stage. Diego Souza also could score from a set-piece, and he would have been one of the penalty-takers on the shoot-out.
Keirrison was doing a poor match, so he could have been taken off. And if Luxemburgo wanted more speed, he could have put Willians in Keirrison’s place. Without Diego Souza, Palmeiras was not able to hold one ball in the offensive pitch, leading Sport to much time to create chances.
And, in one of these chances, Sport scored at the 81th minute. And just didn’t score more because of great saves of Marcos.
Palmeiras’ wasn’t in a god shape to face Sport in the shoot-out: Sport was going to take then at home, and two of Palmeiras’ best takers were out. But Palmeiras has Marcos, who received the nickname of “Saint Marcos” by his incredible capacity of guarantee Palmeiras’ wins.
Marcos saved three kicks, and even with one miss, Palmeiras was “easily” on the quarter-finals. The great performance was compared with the game against Corinthians, a decade ago, when Marcos also saved a penalty and Palmeiras’ was classified to the semi-finals of Libertadores, in the year the team was the champion of the competition.
Palmeiras will face Nacional Uruguay in the quarter-finals of Libertadores, playing the first leg at home two weeks from today.