Friday, 26 June 2015

Zito tributes and derby win over Corinthians provide respite for a Santos side in flux

Last Saturday was, by and large, a pretty special day for Santos. That was partly down to the fixture list: the Peixe welcomed Corinthians to the Vila Belmiro. This is one of the standout games of the year for Santos fans, for whom this rivalry is keenly felt. There's always a spark to the San-São games with São Paulo, while Palmeiras are perennial enemies, but no side stands in such stark opposition to the seasiders as the rabble from Parque São Jorge.

But the game was leant extra meaning by the passing, six days earlier, of a club legend. Zito may not be a household name in Europe – not these days, at least – but arguably only Pelé has made a more significant mark on the fortunes of Santos over the years.

Against Corinthians, the Santos players wore special jerseys with ‘Obrigado Zito’ on the back and his face lovingly emblazoned on the front. The captain’s armband bore not the letter ‘C’ but a ‘Z’, a nice, subtle touch that the club say will become a permanent tribute to their former skipper. All it needed was a victory to round off a memorable day and the current crop of players obliged with a 1-0 win.

In truth, this was, to some extent, a welcome distraction for Santos, for whom the last few months have been fairly fraught. Read my latest for WhoScored here.

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