Palmeiras hosted São Paulo at Allianz Parque for another and the last “Choque-Rei” of the season. This time, Palmeiras did not give São Paulo a chance and won convincingly 5-0, with an outstanding performance by Uruguayan left-back Piquerez.
Choque-Rei in the 2023 Season
For a while now, Palmeiras and São Paulo have been playing more than the usual three games against each other in a season (Paulistão and both legs of the Brasileirão), with 2021 marking the 19th encounter, including Palmeiras’ victory in the 29th round of the 2023 Brasileirão.
In 2021, these two giants met in the final of the Campeonato Paulista, with São Paulo coming out as champions, ending a 16-year drought without a state title. The 2021 season also saw them face off in the quarterfinals of the Copa Libertadores, where Palmeiras prevailed, eventually becoming champions of the highly competitive tournament.
In 2022, the Paulistão final came around again, and this time, Palmeiras emerged victorious with a historic comeback. São Paulo won the first leg 3-1 at Morumbi, but at Allianz Parque, the home crowd made a difference, and Palmeiras won 4-0. They also met in the Round of 16 of the Copa do Brasil in 2022, where São Paulo advanced after a penalty shootout.
In the 2023 season, the two teams faced each other again in the Copa do Brasil, this time in the quarterfinals. São Paulo broke the curse of never having won at Allianz Parque by defeating Palmeiras 2-1 in their own territory, advancing to the semifinals and eventually winning the tournament for the first time against Flamengo.
As you can see, the age-old rivalry between the clubs has been heating up in recent years, with record-breaking games and the breaking of longstanding streaks.
In the 2023 Brasileirão, both teams were in similar phases, and many expected another tough, hard-fought classic with few goals. Palmeiras was trying to recover from a terrible September in which they didn’t win a single match in the Brasileirão, while São Paulo was looking to bounce back from the hangover of winning the Copa do Brasil and secure their first away victory in the 2023 Brasileirão.
The 29th round of the Brasileirão definitively showed that a classic is a classic, and anything can happen.
Palmeiras 5-0 São Paulo
The night in São Paulo was beautiful and ideal for a great game of football. The Palmeiras fans did their part and filled Allianz Parque.
Abel lined up Palmeiras in a 3-5-2 formation, which had worked well against Coritiba in the last round. The lineup included Weverton in goal; Gómez, Luan, and Murilo in defense; Mayke (Marcos Rocha), Richard Ríos (Fabinho), Zé Rafael, Piquerez, and Veiga (Artur) in midfield; and Endrick (Rony) and Breno Lopes (Luis Guilherme) up front.
On the other hand, the experienced coach Dorival Júnior fielded São Paulo in a traditional 4-2-3-1 formation with Rafael in goal; Rafinha, Diego Costa, Beraldo, and Caio Paulista in defense; Alisson (Nathan), Gabriel Neves (Rodrigo Nestor), Lucas Moura (Wellington Rato), James Rodríguez (Jhegson Méndez), and Michel Araújo supporting David (Luciano) in attack.
Abel Ferreira was clever in his lineup, addressing what had gone wrong in the fateful 2-1 loss that led to their Copa do Brasil elimination. With a five-man midfield, Palmeiras effectively neutralized São Paulo’s strong wing play, especially the surprising runs of Caio Paulista, who was effectively marked by Mayke and Richard Ríos.
The match kicked off, and São Paulo struggled to find space between Palmeiras’ solid lines. When they couldn’t find a breakthrough, they resorted to sideways passes, but Palmeiras was eager to gain possession and launch counterattacks.
Just 5 minutes into the game, Veiga delivered a beautiful pass to Mayke on the wing. Mayke received the ball and delivered a perfect cross to Richard Ríos, who executed a powerful header, resulting in a goal for Palmeiras. However, VAR intervened, calling a marginal offside on the Colombian.
Palmeiras continued to dominate, with several attacks threatening São Paulo’s goal. In the 11th minute, Endrick carried the ball towards the box and found Breno Lopes making a darting run. He delivered a perfect pass, and the previously criticized Breno Lopes struck a firm shot, well-saved by Rafael.
São Paulo, on the other hand, struggled to be incisive and lost possession frequently, leading to Palmeiras launching strong counterattacks. In the 15th minute, Palmeiras broke the deadlock. Endrick carried the ball down the right and found Raphael Veiga with his back to the goal, positioned between São Paulo’s lines. The clever midfielder saw Mayke’s run on the right corridor and played the ball first-time. Mayke received it, looked up, and delivered a beautifully arced cross to Breno Lopes, who slotted the ball into the back of the net. Palmeiras took a 1-0 lead to the delight of Allianz Parque. In his celebration, Breno Lopes went to the fans, kissing the badge and saying, “I love this place.”
The game continued in Palmeiras’ favor, with São Paulo struggling to create opportunities and losing possession regularly. At the 25th minute, Mayke made a strong run down the wing and released the ball to Ríos in the midfield. The Colombian received the ball, saw Breno Lopes making a speedy run into the box, and delivered a magnificent trivela pass. The forward received it and, with his left foot, skillfully placed the ball over goalkeeper Rafael, making it 2-0 for Palmeiras. This time, Breno Lopes went directly to the organized supporters, mending fences.
The night belonged to Palmeiras, with all their attacks looking threatening. At the 30-minute mark, Breno had a chance for a hat-trick, coming from deep to head a powerful effort just wide from Endrick’s well-placed cross. In the 37th minute, São Paulo’s situation, which was already dire, got worse as Lucas Moura, the standout player, felt a strain in his hamstring and was forced to leave the field, leaving São Paulo without their brightest spark.
However, the nightmare was just beginning for São Paulo fans. Just before the end of the first half, Palmeiras scored their third goal. After a free-kick into the box by Veiga, Zé Rafael attempted to head the ball but it struck a São Paulo defender. Z
é Rafael went to retrieve the ball and was deliberately pushed by Rato inside the box, resulting in a penalty for Palmeiras. This time, Piquerez, the accomplished Uruguayan left-back, stepped up, concentrated, and slotted the ball firmly and low into the right corner, with Rafael getting a touch but unable to prevent the goal. Palmeiras led 3-0 in an extraordinary first half.
The second half began, and Palmeiras had another scoring opportunity early on. Veiga took a short corner to Breno Lopes, who returned it to Veiga. Veiga found Ríos at the edge of the box, and the Colombian midfielder fired a right-footed rocket, which Rafael did well to save.
The game slowed down a bit, with Palmeiras no longer pressing São Paulo as aggressively. São Paulo passed the ball around without much purpose, and at the 15-minute mark, their situation worsened further. Rafinha was shown a red card after receiving a second yellow, both for fouls committed on the rapid and astute Breno Lopes.
From that point on, São Paulo abandoned their attempts to play and Palmeiras took advantage of the extra space, particularly down the wings with Piquerez and Mayke, and later with Marcos Rocha, who capitalized on Piquerez’s perfectly placed cross to increase the lead to 4-0.
With the substitutions made by Portuguese coach Abel Ferreira, Palmeiras continued to press São Paulo in their own half and had several chances to extend the lead. Breno Lopes, in particular, missed out on his hat-trick as the ball seemed determined not to go in, despite his excellent anticipation in two close-range headers from crosses.
Time passed, and the fifth goal became increasingly likely. It came in a spectacular fashion. In the 41st minute, Marcos Rocha on the right found a good pass to Piquerez on the left. Piquerez controlled the ball and unleashed a shot of extreme power and accuracy from a long distance. The ball nestled in the top corner of the net, leaving goalkeeper Rafael with no chance. Palmeiras led 5-0, in a magical night for Abel Ferreira’s team.
This classic will be remembered for decades, not just because of the result but because of the quality of football displayed, perfect tactical execution, and the rare occurrence of all Palmeiras players being in top physical and technical form. The team effectively exploited the central and wide areas of São Paulo’s defense, with rapid and precise passing.
The standout performers in this beautiful Choque-Rei were the reconciliation between Breno Lopes and the Palmeiras fans, as well as the outstanding performance of Joaquín Piquerez, the best left-back in action in Brazil.