The bid by Palmeiras of Brazil to win a FIFA Membership World Cup began all the way in which 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 1-0 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 greatest 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 may increasingly even be the one which hurts most — for 3 causes.
The primary is that Palmeiras needed the title a lot. All of their native rivals — Corinthians, Sao Paulo and Santos – have beforehand been world champions. Palmeiras followers have been determined to finish the mockery from neighbours and workmates.
Second, as a result of this was a sort of sport 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 have been allowed to play on the counter.
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 an enormous distinction.
He had noticed the environment friendly method that, within the last 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 an exquisite save diving to his left to dam a header from striker Carlos Gonzalez, assembly a Rodriguez cross.
Palmeiras reacted with their trademark transfer. They seemed 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 probability, Vina passing on for a Rony shot that was scrambled clear by keeper Nahuel Guzman.
However — motion and response — when Palmeiras moved up the sphere they inevitably opened up area. 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 means of the sport, and Tigres have been shortly again within the ascendency. Weverton produced two extra high quality saves, and the Mexicans have been nicely value their lead when it got here some eight minutes after half-time.
Tigres moved the ball sharply down the appropriate, Rodriguez had drifted in discipline and he seemed 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 degree phrases, and Portuguese coach Abel Ferreira rang the adjustments. On got here the veteran Felipe Melo to play lengthy from centre discipline. 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 approach hardly ever utilized in South America.
Palmeiras had recollections of the aim that received the Libertadores, 10 minutes into stoppage time. They usually practically 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 aim. The ball got here off Rodriguez and bobbled simply broad.
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 purpose for South American despair is that this match — with the primary Mexican staff by means of to the ultimate of the Membership World Cup — may very well 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 opportunity 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 skills from Argentina, Uruguay and international locations additional north. The Brenner deal, although, will make Brazil sit up and take discover.
There may be 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 will probably be delighted to have a crack on the holders of the Champions League. Additionally they nonetheless have the two-legged last of the Brazilian Cup to dispute in opposition to Gremio. However there will probably be deep disappointment — and just a little concern — at the truth that they will not be competing for a world title.