08 Feb Palmeiras’ Membership World Cup dream ends in sorrow once more as troubling shift of energy continues
The bid by Palmeiras of Brazil to win a FIFA Membership World Cup began all the best way again in early March with a win within the Copa Libertadores away to Tigre of Argentina. And 11 months later it got here to a tragic and tame conclusion with a 1-Zero defeat to Tigres of Mexico within the semi-final of the event.
Ever since FIFA launched the present format of the competitors again in 2005, the semi-final has been a type of torture for the South American champions. They’re so near paradise, however, in an period when the continent loses its finest gamers to Europe, they’re usually merely not set as much as take the sport to the opposition.
This defeat for Palmeiras is the fifth time that the Libertadores winners have fallen at this stage. And this will even be the one which hurts most — for 3 causes.
The primary is that Palmeiras wished the title a lot. All of their native rivals — Corinthians, Sao Paulo and Santos – have beforehand been world champions. Palmeiras followers had been determined to finish the mockery from neighbours and workmates.
Second, as a result of this was a kind of recreation that Palmeiras may need loved. They’re a counter-attacking aspect, and for the primary time within the historical past of the present format, the South American champions had been allowed to play on the counter.
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Tigres took the initiative, their Brazilian coach Ricardo Ferretti selected the identical XI that he used after half-time in Thursday’s 2-1 win over Ulsan Hyundai. However with a giant distinction.
He had noticed the environment friendly manner that, within the closing of the Libertadores, Palmeiras had marked Marinho, the left-footed right-winger of Santos. And so Ferretti switched his wingers, the right-footed Javier Aquino enjoying on the appropriate, and the left-footed Luis Quinones on the left.They stretched the Palmeiras defence, and along with attacking right-back Luis Rodriguez, they ensured early domination for his or her aspect. Palmeiras keeper Weverton produced a beautiful save diving to his left to dam a header from striker Carlos Gonzalez, assembly a Rodriguez cross.
Palmeiras reacted with their trademark transfer. They appeared for lengthy diagonal switches to the left, the place winger Rony and left-back Matias Vina sought to get behind the defensive position. It introduced one clear likelihood, Vina passing on for a Rony shot that was scrambled clear by keeper Nahuel Guzman.
However — motion and response — when Palmeiras moved up the sector they inevitably opened up house. Andre-Pierre Gignac, working intelligently behind Gonzalez, moved out left to assault the weaker flank of the Palmeiras defence. The Frenchman teamed up with the Colombian Quinones, whose long-legged dribbling drove the Brazilian defence to distraction all by way of the sport, and Tigres had been shortly again within the ascendency. Weverton produced two extra advantageous saves, and the Mexicans had been nicely price their lead when it got here some eight minutes after half-time.
Tigres moved the ball sharply down the appropriate, Rodriguez had drifted in area and he appeared to slide Gonzalez behind the defence. Palmeiras centre-back Luan panicked and pulled him again. It was a transparent penalty, and Gignac made no mistake. Palmeiras had nicely over 40 minutes to get again on stage phrases, and Portuguese coach Abel Ferreira rang the modifications. On got here the veteran Felipe Melo to play lengthy from centre area. On got here the left-footed Gustavo Scarpa to strike the ball into the penalty field. However time and time once more they fell foul of a cute Tigres offside entice — a defensive method not often utilized in South America.
Palmeiras had reminiscences of the purpose that received the Libertadores, 10 minutes into stoppage time. And so they almost saved themselves when substitute Willian crossed low from the left. Luiz Adriano didn’t get sufficient contact on his flick, however even then, it might have been an personal purpose. The ball got here off Rodriguez and bobbled simply vast.
Thereafter there was huff and puff however subsequent to no readability, and the paucity of their attacking repertoire was deeply disappointing. And worrying. The third motive for South American despair is that this match — with the primary Mexican team by way of to the ultimate of the Membership World Cup — could possibly be a pointer to the long run.
A merger between MLS and the Mexican league would appear to be greater than a proposal. It carries with it the potential of a North American pole to rival European domination — pushing South America additional down the pole.
The sale late final week of Sao Paulo’s Brenner is a working example. He’s a younger striker on the up — and he’s heading to FC Cincinnati. The MLS has plucked some big-name abilities from Argentina, Uruguay and international locations additional north. The Brenner deal, although, will make Brazil sit up and take discover.
There’s nonetheless a shot to salvage some glory for Palmeiras. They’re again in motion in Thursday’s third-place play-off. Ought to Bayern Munich lose on Monday to Al Ahly of Egypt then the Brazilians can be delighted to have a crack on the holders of the Champions League. In addition they nonetheless have the two-legged closing of the Brazilian Cup to dispute towards Gremio. However there can be deep disappointment — and a bit of concern — at the truth that they will not be competing for a world title.