Volpi fails again in the knockout, and São Paulo revives post-Ceni turmoil – 08/26/2021

Tiago Volpi is going through his most troubled moment as São Paulo’s first goalkeeper. The failures in the knockouts against Palmeiras, at Libertadores, and now against Fortaleza, in the quarterfinals of the Copa do Brasil, shake their status in front of the crowd, even if the stands of Morumbi remain empty in days of pandemic

After frustrated attempts with Denis, Sidão and Renan Ribeiro in the line of succession to Rogério Ceni —retired in 2015—, São Paulo identified in Volpi the ideal candidate to, finally, bring security to the goal.

The pressure situation for São Paulo goalkeepers, palpable in the stands in other times, has even been described by Santa Catarina himself as one of the reasons he said “yes” to the São Paulo club in 2019. Volpi saw that as an incentive to leave from the comfort zone that was in Mexico, where he was almost an idol.

At the end of that season, he became unanimous among the fans, co-workers in the CT of Barra Funda and in the corridors of Morumbi. The one-year loan turned into a $5 million purchase. The goalkeeper signed a contract with São Paulo for until the end of 2023.

Even with some flaws in Brasileirão last year, Volpi never had his condition of title challenged in São Paulo. A few months ago, the tricolor board even probed the market in search of a reserve, but that had more to do with Lucas Perri’s insecurity than with an attempt to cast a shadow on Santa Catarina. The club, however, did not find a deal that made sense. The debt of almost R$ 600 million has made it difficult for São Paulo to hire.

Now, months after the Paulistão title, ending a long and uncomfortable fast, Volpi is far from untouchable. His status in front of the crowd suffered a strong shake in the last knockouts. The goalkeeper was one of the most criticized in the elimination for Palmeiras, in Libertadores. In the first game, when São Paulo was winning 1-0, he missed a free kick by Patrick de Paula and allowed the draw. On the way back, Raphael Veiga’s kick passed him and he died in the back of the net.

The exhibitions in the confrontation ended up overshadowed by Pablo. Another constant target of the fans, he lost a goal on his own, inside the area, that could have been worth the São Paulo draw. Shortly thereafter, Dudu scored the second for Palmeiras, who would win the game 3-0 and eliminate the rival for the first time from Libertadores.

In front of the Fortress, however, Volpi became the biggest target. The wrong exit to cut off Robson’s throw left the ball free for Yago Pikachu to hit the net. At that time, 39 minutes into the second half, São Paulo was winning 2-0. The match ended in a 2-2 draw.

At the press conference, Hernán Crespo was asked about the goalkeeper’s performance, but said coaches don’t like to talk about individual performances and he would be no exception. In the next question, the Argentine commented on the performance of Martín Benítez.

Volpi and São Paulo have three weeks to put things in place before the return game against Fortaleza. The departure is scheduled for September 15th. The team from São Paulo will only advance to the semifinals if they win. A new draw will take the game to penalties.