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The eleven stepping onto the pitch may all wear the same jersey, but they live by very different sets of rules.

Forwards are irreverent, creative, unpredictable creatures. Lead singers, always searching the spotlights. They fail repeatedly before getting it right, being graced with the ultimate reward: a goal and roars from the stands.

On the opposite extreme, the keeper and central defenders. They are all about predictability and stability. Drummers, setting the foundation. In a perfect world, they perform consistently, almost mechanically, never failing. In a perfect world, that is.

You cannot have a drummer messing things up in a band. Similarly, when a keeper or central defender starts failing… A squad without faith in its keeper sooner rather than later turns into a mesh of fear and anxiety. There is but one way to revert the situation: removing the bad apple.

An absolute majority of Palmeiras supporters wished centre-back Leandro Almeida out of the squad as it reunited for the 2016 season. Coach Oliveira, who knows the player well and in 2015 requested his arrival from Coritiba, seemed determined to give him another chance. With Vítor Hugo and Edu Dracena spending time in the medical department, Almeida got his shot at redemption and was doing rather fine. That is, up until last Thursday, when Palmeiras drew 2-2 at home to São Bento.
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The silly error is one thing, Almeida losing his head is another. He tried to clear another ball and failed miserably. He showed his studs and was booked. Almeida clearly felt the pressure.

At the press conference after the game, coach Oliveira admitted Almeida needed some time away from the pitch, homing his skills. That could, and should, read “pack your bags son, we’re looking for a club to host you for the remainder of the season”. Keeping in mind Almeida’s contract with Palmeiras runs until mid-2019… Talk about a wet firecracker.
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Schweinlemanha

001_pigcollection_logoGermanic immigrants first arrived in Brazil starting at the beginning of the 1800’s. From 1824 to 1969, a modest estimation is that some 250.000 Germans arrived in Brazil – the fourth largest immigrant community to settle in the country, after the Portuguese, Italians and Spaniards. A majority of them arrived between the I and the II World War.

Early German immigrants settled mostly in rural areas of Brazil, making their living as farmers. Those arriving in the 20th century mostly settled in big towns, being middle-class labourers from urban areas of Germany. During the 1920s and 1930s, Brazil also attracted a significant number of German Jews, who settled mostly in São Paulo.

Many aspects of Brazil’s culture has been influenced by Germans, especially so in the southern states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul: the Brazilian Oktoberfest in Blumenau is second only to Munich in size. Roughly 5-10 million Brazilians are believed to have German ancestry and the Germanic influence in Brazil is undeniable, as two of Brazil’s most famous personalities can attest to: architect Oscar Niemeyer and über-model Gisele Bündchen.

With all this “germanification” going on in Brazil for centuries, how come Palmeiras have never played in Germany? Good question! The Verdão have played German teams 8 times (4 victories, 3 draws and 1 defeat) and the list includes heavy-hitters like Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund. However, not one clash has taken place on German soil.

Regardless, to all our German readers, near and far: danke schön!
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artwork by Custódio Rosa

research by Cláudio of IPE

São Paulo Cup debut yesterday, and a fairly solid 2-0 away victory against Botafogo. A few observations:

# Coach Oliveira is clearly working on addressing the main shortcoming of last season: the excessive use of direct connection between defenders and attackers. That being said, much more practice is needed.

# Another innovation: a change in formation! Oliveira has obstinately stuck to 4-2-3-1, but yesterday suddenly promoted a switch to 3-4-3 in the second half, Rodrigo Carvalho doing the right side of the first defensive line, with L. Almeida in the centre and V. Hugo to the left. This left Egídio and Lucas with even more freedom to advance on their flanks. Interesting.

# Dudu was on fire, again. He’s showing his hunger and skill at every opportunity given. Tremendous.

# Gabriel Jesus needs bench time, it would take some of the pressure off. The kid is all talent, but he wants it too much.

# Alecsandro isn’t convincing me. Great positioning, but simply too slow.
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Thursday Palmeiras receive São Bento at the Pacaembu stadium. “What, not the Allianz Parque?”. No, because our “partner” WTorre hasn’t gotten the grass ready on time. Absurd.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Pigxicano

001_pigcollection_logoLet’s leave the old continent for a moment, returning to the Americas. More precisely, to Mexico – coincidentally, the last country Palmeiras played abroad, in 2013, before the recent mini-tournament in Uruguay.

Palmeiras are a frequent visitor to Mexico: on average, a game every four years. The first out of the 24 took place in 1952, against Necaxa, a 3-1 victory for the Verdão. In total, there have been 15 victories, 5 draws and 4 defeats on Mexican soil.

Against Mexican teams, Palmeiras have done rather well historically: out of 28 games home and abroad, Palmeiras have come out victorious 16 times, drawn 5 times and lost 7 times.

This year’s edition of the Libertadores Cup includes Mexican teams Universidad Nacional (commonly referred to as “Pumas de la UNAM” or just “Pumas”) from Mexico City, and Deportivo Toluca, from the city of Toluca.

Too all our Mexican readers out there: continue bringing the spice! Abraços!
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artwork by Custódio Rosa
research by Cláudio of IPE

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Palmeiras, together with financial institute Crefisa and the Faculdade das Américas (FAM) today announced they are renewing their partnership for one more year. This was expected. After all, the owner of Crefisa and FAM, José Roberto Lamacchia, and his wife/director/president Leila Pereira have never hidden they are palmeirenses, dreaming of seeing Palmeiras a champion with their brand logos on the uniform. That dream came true a little more than a month ago, with the 2015 Brazil Cup title.

While the renewal was expected, the numbers were not. Palmeiras are landing nothing short of the largest uniform sponsorship in the history of Brazilian football. Crefisa and FAM are, together, scooping up every available space on the garments, pushing out Prevent Senior and TIM in the process: R$ 58 million for the jersey and R$ 8 million for shorts and socks, totalling R$ 66 million (US$ 16 million).
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Absolutely brilliant, of course. But looking at the pictures, I keep wondering if it hadn’t been wiser of Crefisa/FAM to reign supreme not by covering up every single square centimetre of fabric they are entitled to, but rather on the contrary, by keeping the jersey uniquely clean.

The current layout guarantees the logos are exposed at whatever angle, close cropped or far. Maximisation, in the most rudimentary understanding of the concept. But sometimes, or rather often, less is more. And as humans, we are prone to take in what pleases the eye. This is no less true for sports jerseys, where supporters will treasure brand logos that become one with the jersey and that harmonises in style, colour and positioning. Logos that becomes part of the identity of the team for a certain era, of certain trophies and glories.

Certainly studies have been made, expensive consulting firms have given advice. Nevertheless, my gut feeling – and I know I’m not the only one – is for Crefisa/FAM to reconsider their “occupy every space” approach for a clean and stylish look. A look that will please the eye of the beholder. Evoke positive feelings among the millions of Palmeiras supporters who acknowledgedly go out and buy heaps of jerseys. Now THAT is visibility, merchandising, money well spent.

Speaking of money: supporters of rival clubs are everywhere on social media, questioning Palmeiras’ signings and where “all that money” is coming from. The math is simple: R$ 66 million for the uniform, R$ 19 million from Adidas, R$ 45 million from the Avanti supporter programme (2015 figures), R$ 50 million from ticketing (idem), R$ 137 million in TV rights. That’s R$ 317 million (USD 77 million) right there.

Palmeiras have been doing the right thing – financially speaking – ever since Paulo Nobre assumed control in 2013. After years of hardship, Palmeiras are today one fat, happy pig. Albeit a bit patched.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

After a goalless draw against Nacional in the Antel Cup final, a penalty shootout left the Uruguayan side with the trophy. The Palmeiras squad return home in a positive spirit: no conceded goal in three games and newly arrived players showing quality, especially Edu Dracena, Erik, Moisés and Régis.

Preparations for the 2016 São Paulo Cup are at full speed. As in the previous edition of the competition, 20 teams from the state participate, equally divided into four groups, A-D. Palmeiras are to be found in group B, together with Ituano, Novorizontino, Ponte Preta and São Bernardo. The freakish regulation also remains, with teams playing 15 rounds only against teams NOT in their group, with the top two from each group advancing to the quarterfinals. Palmeiras debut is on Sunday, away, against Botafogo/SP.

Centre-back Edu Dracena, a given in Sunday’s starting eleven alongside Vítor Hugo, will not make the cut: he suffered a muscle injury to one of his calves last week with an expected three weeks to recover (hopefully, in time for the Libertadores Cup debut). Cleiton Xavier is another, also suffering from a problem in one of his calves, but his injury is more serious, with at least 6 weeks to recover. In addition, we have defensive midfielder Rodrigo with a badly twisted ankle, expected back in roughly three weeks’ time but he has recovered quickly and is training well.

A few players have left or are on the verge of leaving. Pablo Mouche has signed a six-months contract with Argentine club Lanús, although he makes no secret of his inner wish: a return to Boca Juniors. I personally doubt Mouche will be returning to Palmeiras, which is fine. Then, there is Jonathan Cristaldo, apparently on his way to Russian club Rubin Kazan. The offer seems generous enough, although that does not matter much from a Palmeiras viewpoint: it is club president Nobre holding part of the economic rights to the player, not the club. In any case, it is a bit of a shame seeing Cristaldo go: he is very charismatic and has bonded tightly with Palmeiras and the supporters. However, selling him makes perfect sense from a technical/tactical point of view, so that’s that. Last and least, right-back Weldinho will play for second-division Brasil de Pelotas this season. As his contract with Palmeiras expires at the end of the year, this is another player gone for good.
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Today 28 January, the international transfer window opened, remaining so until 20 April. Although little has been commented backstage, much less officially, one can safely assume Alexandre Mattos has scanned the market for options in at least two positions: a centre-forward/striker (think immediate substitute for Lucas Barrios) and a centre-back ready to give Dracena/Hugo a fight for their spots. With a weakened local currency, Mattos must be both creative and convincing to reel in what he needs from the international market. Time will tell.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

United Pigdom

001_pigcollection_logoWould you believe Palmeiras have never pilgrimmed to the island where everything started? Never kicked the old pigskin around in the misty dampness of her majesty’s kingdom? Well, it’s true. Palmeiras have played against English teams: Arsenal (1 victory and 1 defeat), Coventry City (1 victory), Portsmouth (1 victory) and, most notably, the unforgettable odd goal defeat to Manchester United in the 1999 Intercontinental Cup final in Tokyo. However, never played in England.

Thank you, Englishmen and women! Stay tuned to Anything Palmeiras!
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artwork by Custódio Rosa
research by Cláudio of IPE

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