WorldPalmeiras runs after Corinthians in the historic derby that decides the women's...

Palmeiras runs after Corinthians in the historic derby that decides the women’s Brasileirão title

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Corinthians x Palmeiras is a heavy final in any sport, and it would be no different in women’s football. But this Sunday’s classic from São Paulo is far from the historical balance of the men’s category. Among the women, the match pits the traditional team from Alvinegra, in search of a three-time championship and with the reputation of the best team in the country, against the young project alviverde, which arrives for the first time in a decision two years after being reborn as a professional team. The first game ended with a 1-0 victory for Corinthians, inside the home of Palmeira. The second half of the decision takes place this Sunday, 26, at 9 pm (Brasilia time), at Neo Química Arena, earning the title of the ninth edition of the women’s Brasileirão.

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The final awards the two best campaigns in the first phase. In the women’s Brasileirão, 16 teams face each other in 15 rounds, and the first eight placed advance to the second phase. Palmeiras didn’t lose a game in the initial phase (11 wins and four draws), but ended up in second place, one point behind Corinthians (12 wins, two draws and one loss). From then on, there were two knockout matches until the decision was reached. The Palmeirenses eliminated Grêmio and Internacional, while the Corinthians fans passed through Avaí/Kindermann and Ferroviária.

Corinthians’ tradition in women’s football is already known. The team returned to the professional category in 2016, in partnership with Grêmio Osasco Audax, and has been running the project independently since 2018. The current final is the fifth consecutive Brazilian championship for the club, which was champion in 2018 and 2020. He is also two-time champion of São Paulo (2019 and 2020) and two-time champion of Libertadores (2017 and 2019).

In the Corinthians squad, some pillars of the Brazilian team stand out, such as Erika, Tamires and Andressinha, who started at the Tokyo Olympic Games. There is also the talent of Gabi Zanotti, current best player in Brasileirão, as well as Gabi Portilho, Victoria Albuquerque and Adriana — all led by Arthur Elias, who for some seasons has been considered the best coach of the sport in the country. Corinthians plays at Parque São Jorge, in the east side of São Paulo, or at Arena Barueri, in the metropolitan region. In special cases, such as this final, the team takes its games to the Neo Química Arena, which is the stage used by the male professional team.

The resumption of professional football for women at Palmeiras is more recent. It happened in 2019, the same year that the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) and Conmebol began to force the main Brazilian clubs to form an adult female team. Palmeiras established a partnership with the City of Valinhos, 80 kilometers from the capital, where it established the Nelo Bracalente stadium as its headquarters and housed players and a technical committee. The stadium was remodeled and the partnership continues to date, but a new CBF rule — the requirement that all championship matches be played on 105m x 68m pitches — has meant that the team sends most of its games to the stadium. synthetic lawn of Allianz Parque, home of the men’s team, as was the case in the first game of the final.

In the first year of activity, the Palmeirenses competed in the second national division, called A2, and got a spot in the elite, where they debuted in 2020. The first year among the best clubs in Brazil ended with the Alviverde team eliminated in the semifinals by Corinthians, who would become champion. But the investment has already improved the structure and the technical team, on and off the field. Coach Ricardo Belli took over the team in the second half of 2019 and names such as Ary Borges and Ottilia arrived, who were highlights in rival São Paulo, as well as midfielder Camilinha.

“The year is certainly a victorious one, even above the expectations that we have set”, said the football manager from Palmeira Alberto Simão at the end of the 2020 season, in an interview with the portal ge. “We want to put DNA and make a difference in women’s football, we’ve done very interesting things. We are very satisfied with what we have achieved, but we want more because we are Palmeiras. The demand has to be even greater in 2021. In our first Brazilian Nationals, we stopped in the semifinals, and we know what was missing”, projected he, who, a year later, sees the team reach its first final.

No wonder. Palmeiras also sought in the market players at the level of Julia Bianchi, Bruna Calderan, Duda Santos, Rafaelle and Bia Zaneratto, all protagonists of the first level of Brazilian women’s football. The last two, holders of the selection of Pia Sundhage, left the team after the dispute of the first phase. Even so, the hirings are signs of increased investment in the pursuit of consolidating the palmeira project.

One side seeks to reaffirm sovereignty, while the other seeks to consolidate the ascent. The result is to make a historic edition of Brasileirão even bigger, which for the first time featured nine of the 12 most popular soccer teams in Brazil — Botafogo, Corinthians, Cruzeiro, Flamengo, Grêmio, Internacional, Palmeiras, Santos and São Paulo. This is in addition to others better known in the sport for women, such as the two-time champion of the Libertadores Ferroviária and the current Brazilian vice-champion Avaí/Kindermann. “The 2021 Brasileirão demonstrates something solid. Having women’s football consolidating within such a complex scenario shows that we are taking root in Brazil”, commented Aline Pellegrino, coordinator of women’s competitions at CBF, to EL PAÍS in April this year.

Favoritism is Corinthians’s. Not only because it has a better campaign, a more starred team and a bigger gallery of titles, but mainly because it won the first game. On September 12, at Allianz Parque, a great goal by Gabi Portilho in the second half gave Corinthians the victory and the advantage of a draw in the return game. The Corinthians still created the best chances of the game even playing inside the home of Palmeira. For Palmeiras, history remains to be made for the unprecedented cup: the team needs to beat its main rival, something it has not been able to do since resuming activities in women’s football, to at least take the dispute to penalties. The final starts at 9 pm this Sunday (26) and will be broadcast by Band on open TV, SporTV on closed TV and Desimpedidos and CBF channels on Tik Tok app.

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