In our previous Sonar pings, reference was made to two players expected to arrive: Arancibia and Egídio. And they did arrive.

egidio_assinaLeft-defender Egídio signed a contract worth three seasons at Palmeiras, having being release from his previous short-lived contract with FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. Egídio, previously at Cruzeiro and voted best left-back in the Brazilian league 2014, claims he was without receiving at the Ukrainian club. Not surprisingly, Dnipro claim differently and if this article is only half-true, both Palmeiras and the player might be in for quite some turbulence.

aranciWith Francisco Andrés Arancibia Silva there’s no turbulence, although other Brazilian clubs reportedly did what they could to cross the deal, as the midfielder is considered a rough gem. Arancibia is left-footed, 170 cm tall and only 18 years old. He will enter Palmeiras’ U20 squad and, expectedly, work his way up. Palmeiras has a one-year agreement with the player and O’Higgins – the first division Chilean club from Arancibia’s city of birth Rancagua. With appearances in the national youth squad and recently in the National squad, his price tag by the end of 2015 has been fixed at US$ 600.000.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Palmeiras of today thinking of the Palmeiras of the future.

— ooo —

Thinking of the future sometimes takes us back in time. As you all know, Palmeiras were born Palestra Italia. Palestra Italia was also the name of our stadium, up until the construction of the Allianz Parque arena. With that, Palestra Italia was no longer physically anchored but “only” in our memory. That has now been remedied as a part of the Turiaçu street, exactly the stretch where the Allianz Parque arena is situated, has been officially renamed Palestra Italia street. The decision was formalised earlier this week, in the Chamber of the Municipality of São Paulo, with Palmeiras president Paulo Nobre receiving a document confirming the alteration.
With the name change, future generations will always have a physical reference to the Palestra Italia. By honouring the past, we are securing the future. In addition, Palmeiras are now one of the very few clubs to reside and play on an address that bears its name.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Barcelona vs. PSG on one channel, Bayern Munich vs. Porto on the other. I’m flicking between the channels, but in all honesty my eyes linger more on the laptop screen, where highlights from last Sunday’s Corinthians vs. Palmeiras loop.

It’s magnetising.

With 15 minutes Victor Ramos opened up the scorecard for the Verdão, forcing our opponent to burn fuel they had expectations of saving for later, even for this week’s Libartadores game against São Paulo FC.

30 games without defeat at home, the Itaqueirão absolutely packed. “The team to beat”. Corintianos were confident. And they had reasons to be, as the equaliser by Danilo – always Danilo – was followed by a brace from Mendoza just before halftime. With the turning of events, coach Oswaldo de Oliveira knew he had to make bold moves.    

He altered both flanks, Lucas and Wellington making way for Cleiton Xavier and Kelvin: Kelvin improvised on the left flank while Xavier occupied a central position, dislocating Gabriel to the right. Then, Valdivia out to promote Gabriel Jesus. Bold with a capital B. An offensive line ready to make or break.

Make, is we now know. Although there were chances on both sides, Palmeiras had superior ball possession and controlled the midfielder, launching wave after wave of attacks. In the end it was Dudu who reversed left to right with a perfect cross where Rafael Marques had time to adjust the header to his corner of choice for the equaliser. Highlights below (never mind the Flamengo badge; the quality of the video makes up for the absurdity).

Penalties. Robinho was first out but drove it toward the stands, leaving Palmeiras at a disadvantage for the remainder of the shootout, with everyone convert leaving Corinthians midfielder Elias to seal the deal. 15 million palmeirenses on their knees, as the midfielder accelerated and aimed for the left corner, but Fernando Prass was there to miraculously defend the shot. Alternate penalties. Palmeiras converted, Corinthians, Palmeiras again… Petrus stepped up to the spot and Prass declared “It’s over, Petrus. It’s over.” And indeed it was. Petrus’ penalty was close to perfect, but Prass’ defending was superiour, nothing short of São Marcos quality.

The “Team to Beat” had been beaten, in front of 40.000, now silent, home fans.

Palmeiras are in the finals of the Paulista championship for the first time since 2008. Seven years. The same seven years that Santos have been in EVERY Paulista championship. So also this one, after having beaten SPFC 2-0.

The final is a two-leg affair: the first game takes place this Sunday at the Allianz Parque, the second the following weekend at the Vila Belmiro.   

Am I confident? Hell yes. Our chances of victory are 100%.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

The real deal

I few days ago I received an e-mail from a Swede on his way to São Paulo. He said he felt a certain sympathy for Palmeiras and wondered how to get tickets for the semi-final. I told him all tickets destined for Palmeiras supporters were long gone and that I wouldn’t recommend him rooting for Palmeiras in the middle of a Corinthians crowd. “Go to the Allianz Parque and look up any bar in that area: it will most certainly be full of palmeirenses“, I suggested.

Shortly after today’s game, which culminated in Palmeiras eliminating Corinthians in a penalty shootout to advance to the finals of the São Paulo championship, I received the e-mail below from my fellow countryman:  

“Should you ever really become a Palmeiras fan, today was probably the day. I did as you said, went out to the Allianz Parque and asked a couple of guys in green and white where I should go to watch the game. They took me to a street corner and the party began. Among the best sporting experiences I have ever had, save some of the ones involving my Swedish teams. This was the real deal, and I truly loved it. Many thanks for your help!”
This is what it’s all about.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Most sport journalists don’t need to be hard pressed to say “Corinthians” when asked which team currently is the one to beat in Brazil. When asked who’s the best coach, they flash their Tite Fan Club membership cards.

Considering Corinthians’ streak of 30 games without knowing defeat at the Itaqueirão stadium, this all seems rather discouraging. Or does it?

aroucaExperienced midfielder Arouca doesn’t think so. During a press conference earlier this week, he expressed the opinion that odds are absolutely even and that if someone considers Corinthians favourite, that’s fine. Dudu was asked a couple of days ago which team is the best in Brazil, and didn’t hesitate. “I think my team is the best”.

Players are confident. And not afraid to say so.

Of course Palmeiras could lose tomorrow’s semi-final against Corinthians.

That being said: our chances of victory are 100%.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

TV Palmeiras
– the youtube channel – last week reached 300.000 subscribers, making it the 8th largest in the world and the only non-European football channel to reach the milestone. With more than 18 million views, it has rapidly become a prime source of information for Palmeiras supporters.

Yesterday, Palmeiras’ supporter membership programme Avanti reached the 110.000 mark, making it the 9th largest. Recently overtaking Internazionale and Manchester United, the next “victim” is Borussia Dortmund with roughly 120.000 members. 

“The Avanti is the primary reason behind our growing investments in football. The more members we have, the stronger Palmeiras become”, club president Paulo Nobre explains. Seems like the supporters are buying the argument: in Brazil, Palmeiras are second only to Internacional, the gaucho side computing some 130.000 members. If Avanti maintains the pace, it’s just a matter of time.

Not only the supporter programme boosts revenues: turnout at home games have generated impressive profit for the club so far in 2015. Palmeiras’ net revenue from the group stage of the Paulista championship totalled R$11.251.787, compared to the R$10.564.009 the other seven teams going through to the knockout phase managed to collect. Yes, that’s right: Palmeiras ALONE netted more than the other seven TOGETHER – some US$5 million. 

Palmeiras might be making big bucks, don’t think for a second it means entering spending mode. Valdivia can tell you more. The midfielder is unhappy with the current proposal for contract renovation, where Palmeiras offer a fixed salary roughly a third of his current, compensating with hefty sums each time he enters the pitch. Valdivia probably feels he is being punished for getting injured a lot. Palmeiras certainly feel they might finally get their money’s worth out of the player. With Mattos in the driver’s seat, we can assume the breaking point has been well defined and that Palmeiras won’t budge. Which is excellent.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Botafogo of Ribeirão Preto came with a clearly designed game plan: 11 men behind the ball, ride out Palmeiras’ initial blitz and patiently await that one opportunity to launch a ball into the area or set up a rapid counter-attack. Palmeiras on the other hand did what could be expected: with much superior ball possession, our Verdão sought to penetrate the tight defence through the flanks, crossing balls high and low, constantly reversing sides forcing the Botafogo defence to regroup. One of those games where one side burns opportunity after opportunity (Dudu and Leandro Pereira, the latter replacing Cristaldo in the starting eleven, came closest), while the other side just need that one to define the score… Everybody’s nightmare.

At 15 minutes of the second half, coach Oswaldo decided it was time to let Botafogo have a taste of Valdivia, judging that the Chilean midfielder would render his best against an adversary who started to feel the fatigue. Rightly so: Valdivia was at ease, distributing passes, allowing Palmeiras to further move up positions. It was a question of time. And it was Valdivia who saw Lucas sprinting up his right flank, serving him perfectly for a low cross that Leandro bagged.

With Santos beating XV de Piracicaba 3-0, we have our semi-finals defined: Palmeiras vs. Corinthians on the 19th at 16:00, and Santos vs. São Paulo on the 18th or 19th at 18:30. Thus, a week of preparations before taking on our biggest rival in their lair, where they are yet to know defeat.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Although last Wednesday’s mission was made more difficult due to the large number of Palmeiras players (tactically) suspended, it was plain and simple enough: return home with the three point and home advantage in a future semi-final. Palmeiras’ mixed bag, led by Valdivia, disappointed.

The draw didn’t cut it, as SPFC beat Portuguesa 3-0, leaving Palmeiras in fourth position overall. Thus, the Paulistão quarter-finals were defined as follows:

Corinthians vs. Ponte Preta (1-0)
São Paulo vs. Red Bull Brasil (3-0)

Palmeiras vs. Botafogo/SP
Santos vs. XV de Piracicaba

Quarter-finals and semi-finals are decided in one game only, while the final is a home and away affair.

A full house is expected tomorrow: out of the 35.000 tickets available for Palmeiras supporters, 29.000 have already been sold. There are an additional 3.000 seats in VIP boxes and then the 1.200 destined for Botafogo supporters. Nothing suggests the current record – 35.939 spectators last year against Sport of Recife – will hold.

As the São Paulo championship entered the knockout phase, teams were allowed four changes to the squad. Coach Oswaldo de Oliveira opted for promoting Cleiton Xavier, Kelvin, Andrei Girotto and Wellington. These four replace Allione, Alan Patrick and João Paulo (injured) and Maikon Leite (most likely returning to Mexican club Atlas). Left-defender Egídio was not included due to pending documentation from his  former club in Ukraine. None of the four new players are expected to grab a place in the starting eleven at this point, although both Cleiton Xavier and Kelvin are interesting enough options  Below, the complete list:

Keepers: Prass, Aranha and Jaílson
Flank defenders: Lucas, João Pedro, Zé Roberto and Victor Luis
Central defender: Tobio, Jackson, Victor Ramos, Nathan, Vitor Hugo and Wellington
Defensive midfielders: Arouca, Andrei Girotto, Amaral, Gabriel and Renato
Offensive midfielders: Robinho, Valdivia, Ryder Matos and Cleiton Xavier
Forwards: Dudu, Rafael Marques, Leandro Pereira, Kelvin, Cristaldo and Gabriel Jesus

Well, good folks, this is it. We face our first do-or-die at the Allianz Parque.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!


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