Atletico-PR went into the thirty-seventh round of the Campeonato Brasileiro on a low note having lost the Copa do Brasil final to Flamengo. The loss almost meant that any hope of qualifying for the Copa Libertadores had to come through the league route. Santos on the hand had nothing concrete to play for going into the clash in Rio Preta. Only pride was on the line. Surprisingly it was this intangible driving force that prevailed. In an encounter that did little to quicken the pulse, Santos came from behind for the first time this season to beat the visitors 2x1, putting another hole into their hopes of Libertadores qualification.
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Here was the lineup.
Aranha; Cicinho, Edu, Gustavo, Mena; Alan Santos, Assuncão; Cicero, Montillo; Geuvanio, Thiago
On the same pitch where the club won the 2004 league title, Santos came out of the blocks running. However, the charges were uncoordinated and ill-prepared, so Atletico-PR found them easy to stop and counter. Luckily for Santos, the visitors had problems being decisive in the final third as the absence of Paulo Baier was glaring. That said, they did open the scoring eventually. Marcelo put away a header after a defensive gaffe by Edu to put Santos 1x0 down. The deficit didn’t last long though as Cicero grabbed the equalizer six minutes later just before the 36 minute mark.
The second half wasn’t a much better spectacle, but at least Santos competed much better. Finally the last key moment popped up fifteen minutes from the end. Durval channeled his inner Pirlo to pick out Cicero with a sumptuous ball. With the goalkeeper advancing, the club’s top scorer in the league made no mistake to take his tally to 14 goals and give Santos all three points.
Here are the highlights.
Stats Drop (Courtesy of Who Scored)
Possession: Santos - 53%
Shots/Shots on Target: Santos -11/2, Atletico-PR -13/5
Saves: Aranha (Santos) - 4, Weverton (Atletico-PR) - 0.
Tackles: Deivid (Atletico-PR) - 5
Dribbles: Leo(Atletico-PR) - 4
MOTM: Cicero - 8.5 rating
Aranha: Great as he usually is.
Cicinho: Solid and produced a good assist for the first Santos goal.
Edu: Catastrophically lost Marcelo for the first Atletico-PR goal, but did fairly well outside of that before an injury forced him to be substituted.
Mena: See Gustavo.
Alan Santos: Not as effective as Alison but he did his job well.
Assuncão: I have no idea how he wasn’t ripped to pieces by the opposing attack. He didn’t do anything beyond that.
Cicero: A bit quiet outside of his two goals, but I’m sure no Santos fan is complaining.
Montillo: A bit underwhelming in his fiftieth game for the club.
Geuvanio: Did well in stretching the defense but was his usual wasteful self.
Thiago: See Geuvanio, but even less effective.
Subs: Bruno Peres only played added time, and Renato Abreu was anonymous in his 20 minutes on the pitch. The only impact by a sub was Durval who replaced Edu near the sixty minute mark. He was OK defensively, but his real contribution came via a superb long pass for Cicero’s winning goal. I never knew he had it in him.
The win confirmed that Santos would end the season as the best placed Paulista team, which is pretty great but also fairly meh since the other teams from the state were crap this season. Victory also meant that Claudinei Oliveira will lead Santos to a better league finish than Muricy Ramalho did in his two years at the club. That’s a rookie manager being paid 10% of the salary that Muricy received and using a squad without Neymar. No more needs to be said.
There is another opportunity to play spoiler as Santos ends the season today away to another Copa Libertadores hopeful in the form of Goias. Walter and company are on a bad run of form having lost two in a row. Santos’s recent fortunes are the complete opposite, but those two wins came at home. Santos away from home is a completely different prospect, and not in a good way.
Another toss of the dice, I think.
Durval, Gustavo, and Jubal are the centerbacks in the squad so I would assume that Durval would start as this is most likely his last game for Santos.
Lots to get through since this update is so late.
I) Santos has sent its U17 team to play the U20 Campeonato Brasileiro since the U20 side is preparing the 2014 Copinha.
II) In another brilliant move, Santos has declined - DECLINED! - the chance to sign either Portuguesa’s Gilberto who scored 14 goals in Serie A this year, or Chapecoense’s Bruno Rangel who notched 34 goals in Serie B. The latter is even available as a free transfer. The reason for this absurd decision? Apparently they’re both “small team players” and were compared by some at the club to signings like Henrique and Everton Costa that the club made this year. This comparison of course would be pertinent if either Henrique and Everton had managed to do anything of note before they came to Santos. However, since they didn’t, it is complete nonsense.
This is club without proper strikers and facing sever financial difficulty turning down two cheap options with at least a semblance of a proven track record. At this point this level of stupidity isn’t surprising anymore.
But wait! There’s more!III) Apparently Santos working target list at this point is: Eduardo Vargas, Diego, and Leandro Damião. This is what’s happening while the president (or acting president) is saying the club can only contribute R$3.6 million to transfers right now and is hoping that some investment group will jump in to magically provide some cash.
IV) It’s time to talk about departures. Renato Abreu, Marcos Assunção, Durval, Renê Jr., and Everton Costa were not a part of the club’s medical exams for 2014, and thus are expected to be packing their bags soon. Renê should be on his way to Chinese football. There is also a chance Cicero might leave since he is only on loan at Santos. Grêmio are reportedly interested.
V) Reports are that Santos and Oswaldo de Oliveira have already reached an agreement for the current Botafogo manager to become Santos’s next coach. The deal is expected to be announced tomorrow. de Oliveira has coached Santos before in 2006.
v) I really liked Osvaldo’s work at Botafogo, despite the lack of a big trophy, and a slight mentality problem. Others on Twitter don’t share my view.
Until Next Time
I hope to start the season review soon so I can have it out within a week of today’s season ender. I’m not making any promises though.