Anything but three points would have been highly disappointing. And they were conquered, but not without drama.

Marcelo Oliveira repeated the line-up from the previous game against Cruzeiro, but with Victor Ramos back in the centre lock, placing Jackson on the bench. And just like against Cruzeiro, the blitz was magnificent: with 50 seconds on the clock, Gabriel Jesus open the scorecard after a long pass from Victor Ramos. Dudu made it 2-0, taking full advantage of the Joinville keeper’s deflection from Zé Roberto’s volley. The close to 30.000 spectators at the  Allianz Parque were in heaven.

It took 1min30 to change that. Joinville’s first goal was nicely set up and Palmeiras were caught rather off guard. The second one was a mishap, a freak of events, but the results was nevertheless a cold shower as Palmeiras went into halftime to recompose.

Marcelo Oliveira swapped Barrios for Alecsandro, then Egídio for Rafael Marques, again dislocating Zé Roberto from the middle onto the left flank. Palmeiras slowly recovered the midfield, increasing the pressure on Joinville. Again, it was Gabriel Jesus who netted – his fourth goal this week – after (another) splendid pass from Dudu. Gabriel Jesus, cramping up, left the pitch and Thiago Santos made his debut, very successfully clogging up the midfield.

Three well deserved point secured. Palmeiras are in the top four, aiming to beat Goiás away on the Wednesday to boost morale ahead of Sunday’s clash with Corinthians. It’s one game at a time, though. One victory at a time.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

As expected, Leandro Pereira is packing. And as expected, he’s heading for Belgium. Club Brugge are forking out €3.5 million for the pleasure of having the Palmeiras centre-forward pull on their jersey.

So, why are Palmeiras letting go of their top scorer this season? And what’s on the cards for Club Brugge?

24-year-old Leandro Pereira turned professional in 2011, transiting through several small clubs in the interior of the state of São Paulo. He received attention in 2014 while playing for Chapecoense, at the time recently promoted to Série A. At the end of the season, he seemed set for Corinthians, but ended up at Palmeiras. Supporters of the Verdão were initially hesitant – used to “promising” players from smaller clubs coming and going without leaving a mark whatsoever – but little by little, Leandro won them over. A serious man, but with an easy smile, the 190 cm tall player positions himself well in the box, often scoring with headers but not only: in the last month, his quick and intuitive style of play has showcased his efficiency and objectivity, always seeking an opportunity to conclude. He has totalled 10 goals in 30 games: not bad, considering the completely remodelled 2015 Palmeiras squad, containing 25 (!) new players.

Thing is, it’s crowded up front at Palmeiras. Cristaldo, Mouche, Rafael Marques, Dudu, Gabriel Jesus, Kelvin… These all have rather different characteristics, but Alecsandro and – especially – Paraguay national squad forward Lucas Barrios are (or rather, were) Leandro’s direct contenders.

In the last few weeks, Leandro was mostly found on the bench, even while sporting good form. Many wondered why. We now know it was due to the already ongoing negotiations with Brugge. In the end, the Belgians bought 75% of the player: Palmeiras’ 50% and an additional 25% that were in the hands of investors (holding on to the last 25%).

The deal seems a true win/win/win scenario: Palmeiras have enough forwards already, and are making a reasonable revenue on the transfer – some R$ 5 million (US$ 1.4 million) net; Leandro takes an important step in his career; and Brugge get a quality player who has, I’d say, a good chance of making it in Europe.

Good luck, Leandro Pereira and Club Brugge!

Marcelo Oliveira promoted change, opting for speed and agility against Cruzeiro’s slower defence. Gabriel Jesus and Barrios were found in the starting eleven, as was João Pedro, replacing Lucas on the right flank. Zé Roberto and Robinho in the middle, with Amaral positioned in front of centre-backs Vitor Hugo and Jackson. Egídio back on the left flank, Prass and Dudu completing the setup.

Within eight minutes, Barrios’ first goal in the Palmeiras jersey was a fact, beautifully assisted by Jesus. After that, it was all about the 18-year-old: he volleyed in 2-0 after a cross from Egídio, and then humiliated Cruzeiro keeper Fábio in a man-to-man duel, taking full advantage of the perfect pass received from Dudu to make it 3-0 with another ten minutes on the clock before halftime. Pure bliss.
With Cruzeiro suddenly needing five goals, the game died right there. Palmeiras administered the result in the second half, a bit sloppily allowing Cruzeiro – with only ten men on the pitch – to score not once but twice. Coach Oliveira was delirious with the first half and unhappy with the second; understandable, but also understandable that players hit the breaks to save up energy ahead of Sunday’s important game against Joinville.

The result propels Palmeiras into the quarterfinals of the Brazil Cup. Five other teams secured their spots yesterday: Fluminense, Santos, SPFC, Figueirense and Vasco. The last two spots are defined tonight, with Internacional (vs. Ituano) and Grêmio (vs. Coritiba) in the driver’s seat. Another positive aspect: Mouche came on in the second half, having been eight months absent from the pitch due to a serious knee injury. No mistaking his enthusiasm upon returning, but he will have to work hard for a place in the starting eleven: direct contenders are Dudu, Gabriel Jesus, Rafael Marques, Kelvin and Cristaldo.

Ticket sales are good ahead of Sunday’s game, with a packed Allianz Parque to be expected.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

A special treat for all the 16 million palmeirenses spread out throughout the globe and for the legions of AC/DC fans out there: Let’s Play Ball!

26 August 1914. Europe catching fire, shockwaves spreading the conflict that will be universally known as World War I. In São Paulo, Italian immigrants and descendants of immigrants put pen to paper, forming a sports club. Little do they know they have given birth to the most successful Brazilian football club of the 20th century, the Palestra Italia.

In January of 1915, Palestra Italia play their first game, walking away with both victory and trophy.

In September of 1942, forced by Brazilian authorities to abandon the name Palestra Italia, the club plays for the first time as Palmeiras, walking away with both victory and the State Championship title.
As the Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras today complete the first year of the club’s second century, victories of a different nature are evident: fiscal responsibility and control, investments in infrastructure and technology, investment in human resources. Palmeiras are finally ridding themselves of archaic and flawed practices, showing the way for other Brazilian clubs to follow. On the pitch, results will not come quickly or automatically, but the medium to long-term effects are on the cards: trophies.

Happy anniversary, Palmeiras!  

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

As predicted, Sunday’s away game against Atlético Mineiro proved a hard nut. Palmeiras got the early goal, Andrei Girotto bagging his first for Palmeiras putting his forehead to a perfectly timed cross by Lucas. As we’ve seen before, the goal stopped Palmeiras dead in the tracks and Atlético dominated the rest of the first half completely, going into halftime with a 2-1 lead after two goals by Lucas Pratto.

Marcelo Oliveira promoted change already at halftime and again with ten minutes on the clock: Egídio (again terrible) gave way to Robinho, who did a good job in the middle while Zé Roberto took over the left flank. In another offensive move, Gabriel Jesus replaced Girotto. Palmeiras gradually increased ball possession and pressure, which culminated as Barrios replaced Alecssandro. Unfortunately, and in spite of many chances, Palmeiras were unable to equalise.

Palmeiras are parked fifth in the tables, now twelve points behind Corinthians and eight behind Atlético. Grêmio are six points ahead, Fluminense two. Some palmeirenses are chucking in the towel, forgetting the title and refocusing on the Libertadores spot (awarded to top four teams). Too early, in my opinion: Palmeiras have every possibility to win upcoming games against Joinville and Goiás, before receiving Corinthians at the Allianz Parque. Nine points won, and anything can happen.

Lucas Barrios seems to understand this. Yesterday, we learnt that he asked Paraguay national coach Ramón Díaz not to call him up for a friendly against Chile in two weeks’ time. Barrios explained he preferred fine-tuning at Palmeiras and be available for the derby, and his request was duly granted by Mr. Díaz. Now that’s how you make an impact.

Leandro Pereira seems to be feeling all this and possibly preparing a move. The current top scorer has not had many opportunities with Marcelo Oliveira as of late and a deal seems close with Belgian club Brugge. Palmeiras hold 50% of the 23-year-old, the parcel purchased for R$ 5 million. If the deal goes through, Palmeiras might make a small profit, something like R$ 1 million. The transfer window closes on 31 August.

Thiago-Santos-Palmeiras-Foto-Divulgacao_LANIMA20150825_0051_52Defensive midfielder Thiago Santos is the 25th athlete to join Palmeiras this season. The idea is for Thiago to suppress the impact of Gabriel’s absence (out for the remainder of the season due to a knee injury). Sporting good numbers playing for América Mineiro in the second division, Thiago is welcomed by former club companions Vitor Hugo and Andrei Girotto. Also worth mentioning: the 25-year-old was brought in with the help of main sponsor Crefisa, who paid the fine to yank him from América and will also pay his salaries. In other words, same procedure as with Barrios. Thiago’s contract ends December 2018.

Speaking of injuries: Cleiton Xavier has come down with a muscular problem and is expected back in playing condition no earlier than late September. Arouca is recovering, but will not face Cruzeiro tomorrow, hopefully being available against Joinville on Sunday.

Palmeiras have released pictures of the new third jersey for 2015: a silvery/gray piece with something resembling a watermark on the chest, displaying an image of the 1915 Savoia Trophy – the first trophy won by Palmeiras/Palestra Italia, beating Sport Club Savoia 2-0 in the team’s first game ever.

The official launch of the jersey is scheduled for this upcoming Thursday, the day after…

PALMEIRAS 101th BIRTHDAY! Yes, tomorrow Wednesday 26 August marks the first year of Palmeiras’ second centenary!

And what a birthday, with a decisive away game against Cruzeiro for a spot in the quarterfinals in the Brazil Cup. A draw and Palmeiras are through to the next phase.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Dear friends,

After last month’s Viking Pig, we continue celebrating the five years of Anything Palmeiras with yet another gem from the one and only Custódio Rosa Filho: the Pigtália! Enjoy!



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