Pre-season friendly matches are often dull and uninteresting. But Chapecoense vs. Palmeiras was not a regular pre-season friendly match. It marked the first time that Chapecoense played since a November 28 plane crash killed 19 players, the entire coaching staff, and part of the team’s front office. The game finished in a 2-1 victory for Chapecoense, but the score was the least important thing.
The game ended in a 2-2 tie, but the score was the least important aspect of it.
Two months ago, the very existence of the club was jeopardy. But the rebuilding process seems to be in the right way. The 2017 roster has 25 new players, most coming through free player loans from Brazilian Serie A teams.
Roughly 20,000 supporters packed the Condá Arena, in Chapecó. Among them, family members of the victims of the crash. Defender Neto, one of the six crash survivors, was also in the stadium. Earlier this month, Neto stated that he plans to hit the field again as early as July.
Also in the stadium was journalist Rafael Henze, who also survived the crash. The commentator
A unique season ahead
The 2017 season will be unique in all aspects. First of all, because the team will try to turn the page. But also because the team will play on its biggest stage, the Copa Libertadores.
The November plane crash happened when Chapecoense was flying to Medellín. The team would play the final of Copa Sudamericana, South America’s second-most prestigious tournament, against Atlético Nacional. At Atlético’s request, Conmebol declared Chapecoense the tournament’s champion.
The title came with a $2 million reward and a spot at Copa Libertadores.
Chapecoense’s next game will be on January 26, against Joinville for a regional tournament.
Chapecoense vs. Palmeiras: The Game
Unlike pre-season matches usually go, the game started very intensely. At the 12th minute, Raphael Veiga scored for Palmeiras. In a display of sportsmanship, the local fans applauded the opposition’s game.
Only three minutes later, Douglas Grolli equalized for Chapecoense. The goal was particularly special since Chapecoense revealed Grolli.
In order to avoid injuries, Palmeiras replaced eight starters during half-time. Such change reflected on the field. In the second minute of the half, a mistake by goalkeeper Jailson generated Chapecoense’s second goal. The equalizer came in the 72nd minute, in a beautiful shot by Vitinho.
By that time, however, both teams had already taken their foot off the gas pedal.