They won the league title last time of asking. And there appears to be no reason to suspect that table-toppers Palmeiras won’t win it again the season. Not if Brazil’s Serie A league standings are anything to go by, anyway.
For Palmeiras boss Luiz Felipe Scolari, it would underline an illustrious career. He was cheered from the rooftops last season when he steered his charges to the championship and added yet another major title to his impressive CV — all at the tender age of 70.
High-flying Palmeiras are top, two points ahead of second-placed Santos and with a game in hand over their title rivals. They cemented their position at the summit last time out with a 1-0 home win over mid-table Athletico Paranaense.
The game looked to be heading for a stalemate when midfielder Raphael Veiga tucked away a late spot-kick to allow the defending champions Palmeiras some relief as well as breathing space as the title race heats up.
Veiga bagged his penalty with just 10 minutes remaining of the contest at Allianz Parque in Sao Paulo — it came after Marcio Azevedo was penalised for upending the lively attacking midfielder Dudu (Eduardo Pereira Rodrigues) with a thunderous tackle that brought him a yellow card.
The victory came with good timing for the club as they leap-frogged Manchester City into third placed in the world ranking of clubs just behind Spanish powerhouse Barcelona, who are the current champions of La Liga, and Argentinian giants River Plate, title-holder in the Libertadores (the 40 major leagues in the world and the 10 international club tournaments are computed for the world ranking. The formula also considers difficulties of the competitions and the quantities of different matches between them).
Meanwhile, Santos coach Jorge Sampaoli says it will be tricky for his side to get ahead of the league leaders adding the resilience of two other rivals — Cruzeiro and Grêmio — is still not to be ignore even though both are having a wobble. And he cites the inconsistency of his own charges as a major factor in his thoughts; that his outfit will ultimately fail in their quest to win the title.
“Cruzeiro and Grêmio are not in a good moment, but they know what to do and they will recover. Palmeiras will be difficult to reach. It’s very difficult to win the Brasileirao — you have to remember that it is necessary to have regularity to conquer this competition.
“I am sorry to say that I do not see how easy it is to hold such a long and demanding tournament, you have to have a team convinced of the idea that it is possible to be a champion.”