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While there’s no denying that TV Palmeiras’ success has been phenomenal – as highlighted by the recent visit of YouTube’s Latin America director John Farrell – Palmeiras are still a rookie, and a timid one, in the universe of Sports Club broadcasters.

In an all-exclusive interview for Anything Palmeiras, meet Stefano Bozzi, Head of Programmes at Manchester United’s TV channel MUTV, a 24/7 channel with an global audience estimated at 6 million in 85 countries.

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Anything Palmeiras: Stefano, first of all: thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Could you start by giving an overview of what MUTV is all about?

Stefano Bozzi: Certainly, Kristian. Well, MUTV is the official television channel of Manchester United, the number one sports brand in the world. It was launched in 1998 and was the first club channel of its kind. Today, MUTV operates 24/7, producing and broadcasting both live and pre-recorded programmes. We have two studios, one at Old Trafford and the other at the training ground, the Aon Training Complex in Carrington. All our programmes are transmitted from Old Trafford to the BT Tower in London and then uplinked to the Sky satellite platform. There is no advertising, but a subscription of £6 (US$10) a month. We have some 100,000 subscribers in UK & Ireland alone and can be seen, in various forms, in 85 different countries.

MDLThere are new shows nearly every day – on average nine hours of fresh programming each week. On match days, we come on air for a 30 minute preview show three hours before kick-off, then are on air constantly from an hour before kick-off – bringing our fans exclusive interviews and the team news first – then for 15 minutes at half time, and then for an hour and a half post-match when we do interviews, analysis and hear from our viewers via phone, skype, email and social media.

Of course we do not have the rights to show Premier League, Champions League or FA Cup matches live. But we do have secondary rights, enabling us to do full match re-runs and highlights once the holdback delays have expired (usually midnight on the day of the game).
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Big United Quiz.
We do various studio shows with former United players as guests and viewers calling in, show the U21 and U18 matches live and also show first team pre-season friendly games live and exclusively. We produce exclusive high quality documentaries, re-live classic archive matches, hold a weekly discussion show with newspaper journalists and preview each match with programming the night before. We hope to bring our fans unrivalled player access and behind-the-scenes footage – something that is not always easy to achieve.

AP: What kind of infrastructure is needed to operate a channel of this magnitude?

SB: We operate on an annual budget from the club, with a department of 60, based separately from the club in an office in the city centre. Our staff is made up of everyone from cameramen to schedulers to marketers to producers, directors, presenters, GFX engineers, EVS operators, transmission engineers and researchers. In addition to the TV programming, we also provide video content and a podcast for the website, mobile, app and all social media platforms, and produce material for club partners and sponsors.

My work is to commission and supervise production of all our studio, documentary, football and special event programming, and control our 24/7 scheduling.

AP: What is your background, Stefano?

SB: I grew up obsessed with sport and intent on a career in sports journalism in TV, radio and newspapers. After a degree and post-grad in journalism, I joined the BBC in 1997 as a junior archive assistant in BBC Radio Sport. In my ten years there, I moved to TV and worked on Match Of The Day and Football Focus, and produced our England coverage at European Championships and World Cups. I became Senior Producer at Setanta Sports in 2007, then worked for Premier League Productions, and returned to the BBC as Assistant Editor in Sports News, which included the 2012 Olympics. I have been Head of Programmes at MUTV since Feb 2013.
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Stefano Bozzi (centre)

Stefano Bozzi (centre)

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AP: At Palmeiras – or at least among Palmeiras supporters – there’s a bit of a heated discussion in relation to the passion vs. professionalism aspects of running a football club. The new Palmeiras administration, elected in late 2012, have brought a business-like mind-set to most areas of the administration, including, for example, marketing and public relations. The latter is a prime example: Palmeiras’ press and public relations have been outsourced to a company where the CEO is an outspoken corintiano (Palmeiras’ biggest rivals on and off the pitch). What are your views on this, relating to your work at MUTV?

SB: Coming from the BBC it is a very different environment here. It is far more corporate and business-like. More professional than passionate. That being said, most of the staff here are United fans. But not all. I make no secret of my allegiance to Arsenal and I have a picture of former Arsenal captain Tony Adams in my office. There are even Man City and Liverpool fans here. As long as they have a passion for and sound knowledge of football, and are committed professionally to Manchester United, then that is good enough for me. In fact, some objectivity when producing MUTV content can be a good thing. We always respect the opposition and maintain a high level of editorial judgment. Partisan yes. Biased no. And never overly critical of players or manager.

I never supported Manchester United but always respected the club’s history, tradition, legends, organisation, management and playing style. Being offered the opportunity to work for the club was something I just couldn’t turn down. I feel privileged every day I walk into Old Trafford – not just on match days. The chance to take MUTV forward and improve the output to the next level is a very exciting challenge.
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MUTV billboard.
AP: What other teams have 24/7 TV channels? Do you keep an eye on the competition?

SB: I think it is just Real Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool and us now. Arsenal had a channel but dropped it. Arsenal and Man City have a very strong digital presence, it’s a different approach. We would like more access to players and coaches in an ideal world but of course appreciate the situation. The access in American sports is incredible – I don’t know if we will ever get to that level in the UK. On the other hand, our documentaries have been nominated for awards in recent seasons – this is a very strong element of MUTV and we are very proud of the quality. There is an annual European Club Channels conference in Italy which has proved very useful in meeting producers at other clubs and sharing experiences and ideas.

AP: When making football club TV, would you say there’s a standard formula that works well for all clubs, or must one really tailor the content?

Stewart and PaddySB: Both. It depends on the size of the club and how successful they are. We can do bigger budget programming than small clubs, but smaller clubs often have far superior access to their players. At MUTV, we spend very little time close to the players. You play to your strengths and attempt to overcome your weaknesses. We have, for example, very good relations with the many ex-players we use on our programming on a daily basis. There is a real push now to improve clubs’ short-form video content and player access is key to this, so this is something we hope to improve.

AP: Generally, does someone from the club management approve your content before it’s broadcasted, or do you have autonomy?

SB: Yes, the club monitors our content, and if we have an idea that may be contentious, or a problematic situation, we will consult the club.

AP: Do you make content specifically targeting different geographical regions of the Manchester United supporter base?

SB: Some shows are targeted to the local fans, some more to the global supporters, but ideally every show works for as wide an audience as possible.

Manchester United have an estimated 325 million followers in Asia alone. 173 million in Africa, some 90 million in Europe, 37 million in North America and some 34 million in South America. One of the prime targets of MUTV now is to broaden our appeal further and cater more effectively for our fans overseas – specifically Asia and Africa. We are developing match commentaries in other languages and are hoping to introduce bespoke programmes in certain languages soon, as well as develop different schedules for different parts of the world. We’re also considering the use of virtual studios.

AP: How important is MUTV for the internationalisation of the Club brand? Could MUTV be considered one of the pillars?

SB: Yes, very much so. In our view, the club channel alongside the club’s website and social media can be the first point for content creation to connect the club with its fans worldwide. A recent Man Utd “Jakarta Fan Party” attracted 10’000s of MU fans to watch a screened MU match live with fellow fans – all organised by the Club. In addition, we can leverage key players in certain regions, like Hernandez in Mexico & Central America, Valencia & Rafael in South America, and Kagawa in Japan & Asia.
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MUTV 1998

MUTV 1998

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AP: what else is in the pipeline? Where would you like to take MUTV?

SB: There is a lot happening on the technical side. We are aiming to go HD soon and begin to integrate more effectively with the website manutd.com and all of our social media outlets on Facebook, Twitter, Seina Weibo, Instagram and Google+. We also have plans to create vehicles on which we can push the channel and improve its exposure – such as second screen, on-demand services and web streaming. Essentially, what we hope to do in the future is make more of our programming into events to “attend”, much like the matchday experience. One example would be interviews with players streamed live across Facebook, allowing for instant questions and answers – fans watch on TV whilst getting involved via a tablet. We want to be the fans’ channel where they have a voice every day.

I also hope to introduce some children’s programming soon.

AP: Well, Stefano, with so much on your plate, I’d better leave you to it. Again, thank you so much for your time. Best of luck to you and your team while taking MUTV into new levels of excellence!

SB: Thank you so much Kristian. Clearly TV Palmeiras is making great strides forward. Many congratulations to everyone involved and all the very best for the future. Maybe we can work together at the Club World Championship one day!
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mutv

The squad for the 2014 edition of the Brasileirão is in formation. Starting with the removal, at least for now temporarily, of players that have not lived up to expectations during the São Paulo Cup.

Striker Vinícius is packing his bags, heading for Vitória/BA, on loan until the end of the year. Youngest ever to debut in the Palmeiras jersey, he has only scored eight goals in the 100 and something games played for the Verdão. He won’t be missed.

There’s also a bunch of players returning to Palmeiras from other State of São Paulo teams: keeper Deola (relegated with Atlético Sorocaba), centre-back Marcos Vinicius and midfielder Ramos (both at Rio Claro), midfielder Bruno Dybal and striker Emerson (relegated with Oeste), midfielder Diego Souza (Grêmio Barueri), midfielder Edilson (Penapolense) and striker Tutinha (relegated with Paulista). All these player are training in separate and should be again passed on to other clubs, in the hope they develop and one day are considered ready to join the ranks (re-join, in some cases).

Deola might be heading for Criciúma. I say Palmeiras ought to find opportunities also for Bruno, giving 23-year-old Fábio a shot at fame and fortune as second keeper after Fernando Prass.

Alan Kardec is very, very close to signing a new contract with Palmeiras, an agreement having already been reached with Benfica. Kardec is fine with the productivity model adopted by the Nobre administration and happy at the Club.

Another player seemingly ready to accept the productivity model is forward Patrick Vieira. His agent ruled it out completely just a couple of weeks ago, but the tide has apparently changed. Good.

Coach Kleina is more closely observing the youth academy, looking for signals that someone might be ready for greater responsibilities. Players at other clubs are also being observed – the list includes a couple at Ituano, the team playing Santos for a draw in order to bag the Paulistão title on Sunday.

telao_Wagner_pesinatoNot only the squad, but also the Allianz Parque is shaping up. Yesterday, one of two larger structures were being prepared for lifting: these will support the largest TV screens currently existing in Brazil, each measuring some 103 square meters and costing approximately US$ 3 million. The high definition screens will be placed at the far ends of the Arena, behind the goals. Picture to your right, courtesy of Wagner Pesinato.

WTorre has also recently released pictures of the proposed colour scheme for the seats at the Arena, sporting an abstract pattern, perhaps resembling camouflage. White and two shades of green will be used.
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Speaking of design: pictures of the third jersey for the centenary are out. The piece seeks inspiration from the very earliest models worn by the players of Palestra Italia. Gorgeous.
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J01  J02  
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To round things off, a video of Mr John Farrell, head of YouTube’s Latin America division, paying a visit to Palmeiras. In the interview, Farrell expresses how impressed everyone is at the growth of TV Palmeiras, within days bound to reach 250.000 followers on YouTube. Dedicated supporters, good publicity work and exclusive content is the key to TV Palmeiras’ success, in Farrell’s view. I’d say especially the last ingredient has been important in this specific case: Palmeiras supporters are very thirsty for backstage news. The insights into training and preparation routines of our players before and after games have approached players and supporters, showing supporters the human filling out the jersey out there on the pitch: a human of flesh and blood with aspirations, desires, fears and faith.
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If TV Palmeiras and media coverage interest you, you’ll certainly enjoy the upcoming article here at Anything Palmeiras: an extensive, all-exclusive interview with Mr Stefano Bozzi, Head of Programmes at Manchester United TV. MUTV was launched in 1998 and has today an estimated global audience of 6 million in 85 countries. Bozzi will tell us a little about concept, strategy, and how it is to work for a club with one of the largest – if not the largest – supporter base on the planet. Stay tuned!

united.
In the shockwaves of eliminations and with a lion’s part of any regular starting eleven in the medical department, anything but advancement in the Brazil Cup was irrelevant.

With two goals from a feverish (yes, as in ill) Bruno César, nevertheless the man of the match must’ve been Dalton, the Vilhena keeper. Saving the Rondônia team on several occasions, I wouldn’t be surprised if he receives an offer from a second division club. Actually, all in all, nothing but respect for Vilhena: they played well, gave it all they had and can leave São Paulo proud of their performance and posture.
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Two additional comments: a) Marquinhos Gabriel came on and really loosened up the tension, also being directly involved in the first goal. Hopefully we’ll see much more of him in the future. b) Bruno’s got to go. I like him, but he’ll never win back the confidence of the squad and our supporters, nor the respect from our opponents.

Palmeiras now have a little more than two weeks to digest the last few days’ turmoil and get ready for the return to the first division: 20 April, away against Criciúma.

Time for tweaking the squad. Time for healing and training and recovering confidence. Time for announcing that Master Sponsor.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Crashing out

shotdown.
There’s a lot to be said. Palmeiras’ obligation last Sunday was to dominate Ituano just like Bragantino were dominated three days before, reinforcing the tremendous gap between the two teams in terms of tradition, supporter base, national and international projection and, not least, payroll. True that Ituano sported and still sport the best defence so far in the tournament, with only 10 goals suffered in, now, 17 games, but that’s a mere detail: Palmeiras, playing at second home Pacaembu and before a 31.000 head strong crowd had nothing but an obligation to fulfil: beat Ituano to face Santos in the Paulistão finals.

It’s in the nature of obligations to occasionally turn into nightmares. And looking closely, Palmeiras’ undeniable superiority started to deteriorate already against Bragantino, with the referee, as so often, turning a blind eye to the over-physical gameplay commonly adopted by less technical teams. Especially Valdivia was targeted, his right ankle so swollen after the game against Bragantino, Palmeiras’ medic vetoed him from the starting eleven against Ituano. And Ituano followed the script laid out days before: Alan Kardec received a challenge from behind and went down, the Ituano aggressor not even seeing the yellow. Two offensive key players out against the best defence of the championship. Not good.

In addition, Kleina’s choices for the starting eleven and bench were questionable. Tiago Alves was dislocated from his position as centre-back to the right, leaving everyone wondering why Bruninho wasn’t even on the bench. With Kardec’s exit, Vinícius came on, proving once again he adds nothing to the squad. Wesley looked like he was enjoying a walk in the park, while Leandro repeated his lousy performance of previous games.

Palmeiras were nevertheless clearly superior, were in possession of the ball for most of the time and created several opportunities. As time went by, with the ref allowing for the over-physical style to prevail, our players started to show both frustration and nervousness, looking for quick solutions and missing simple passes. Ituano on the other hand maintained their posture, firmly executing the gameplan set out in the first minute: dragging out the status quo all the way to a penalty shootout. Fate wanted differently and reworded Ituano with the one goal close to the final whistle, formally dictating Kleina’s 100th game for Palmeiras a tragedy.

Previous years, the defeat would throw Palmeiras heads first into a bottomless pit. As Gian Oddi at ESPN insightfully wrote a few days back: for those inside the club who feed on the frustration and passion of many, the worse Palmeiras perform, the better for their sordid political ambitions. If crashing out of the Paulistão jeopardises the continuation of the silent and ungrateful revolution currently taking place at Palmeiras, Oddi argues that throwing away the chances to the Paulistão title would be the last of the club’s problems. He’s absolutely right.

All this while remembering that Corinthians didn’t even make it to the knockout phase and that São Paulo FC were kicked out already in the quarter-finals by mighty [sic] Penapolense (who were beating Santos in the other semi-finals with 30 minutes to the final whistle). There’s room for many in the rocky boat.

Page turned. Palmeiras now have an eminent task ahead: eliminate Vilhena from the Brazil Cup this coming Wednesday. A draw is enough, as Palmeiras won the away game 0-1.

After that, all efforts should be put into releasing Alan Kardec from his contract with Benfica. And either sign a new contract with Wesley or sell him. The debts from his purchase during the previous administration is reportedly what’s holding back the signing of a Master sponsor (which would be the governmental bank “Caixa Econômica Federal“, or just “Caixa” for short).

In parallel, time for some soul-searching. Maintaining Kleina is crucial; we needn’t be shown once more that hotshot coaches fail as everybody else have failed at Palmeiras recently. Kleina and the directors need to re-evaluate the squad, dismiss a few players and find options on the market for key positions, especially a top forward and a right-back. It’s all about hard work, entering the Brazilian Championship in mid April in the right mindset.

We’ll be fine. Accidents happen. Although they have been happening more frequently than we would wish at Palmeiras.

Short on the game against Vilhena: Palmeiras have no less than eight players in the medical department: Wendel, França, Fernando Prass, Valdivia, Alan Kardec, Bruno César and Juninho. Possibly also Wesley. Thus, Palmeiras tomorrow will look very different. Not that Vilhena should stand a fighting chance. But hey, what was that again on the topic of “obligations”?

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

CAMPEONATO PAULISTA 2014: SANTOS FC X PALMEIRAS.
Conrado Cacace of the Verdazzo, currently one of the most influential voices in the universe of opinion-making palmeirenses, attended yesterday’s game at the Vila Belmiro. Half an hour after the final whistle, Palmeiras supporters were allowed to leave the stadium. While making his way out, checking his smartphone for information on other game results, Conrado received a hard blow to his face and hit the ground before receiving several kicks. He managed to get to the bus waiting outside, his phone stolen, and upon returning to São Paulo underwent medical exams. With multiple fractures to his face, he’s scheduled for surgery today (Monday).

Outspoken, uncompromising, always backing his positions with compelling arguments. A strong personality that sometimes annoys even those agreeing with his views. “He had it coming”, some argues.

He had it coming, only if we accept violence as a legitimate form of argumentation. Without the shadow of a doubt, Conrado was cowardly assaulted by someone coming from “our” ranks, someone calling himself a palmeirense, someone who disagrees with the editorial line of the Verdazzo. Fists and kicks were chosen as a means to punish him, and to silence him. Stealing his phone was just a bonus.

The right to expression is fundamental, at any and every level of society. The use of violence to combat ideas is nothing short of fascism. As such, it must be condemned without hesitation, without fear, and without personal preferences in regard to the identity of the victim and his views.

Reflect on that before uttering another “he had it coming”: that kind of mentality is, directly or indirectly, the breeding ground for what happened to Conrado. And could happen to you next.

Conrado, I wish you a speedy recovery, both physical and mental. Hope to see you back in the saddle as soon as possible: your work has never been more important.

— ooo —

Difficult to analyse yesterday’s clash against Santos. True enough, Palmeiras did not seem quite awake, allowing Santos not one but two goals before half time. On the other hand, Palmeiras would likely have reached the draw had the game continues for another ten minutes. And personally, I liked Bruninhos debut. Game highlights below.
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I’d say Palmeiras have more to give. And possibly Kleina opted for not revealing all his cards, especially as yesterday’s result actually means Palmeiras have a theoretically easier path to the finals, avoiding SPFC in the semi. In any case, the Paulistão truly starts now, in the knockout phase: Thursday night we welcome Bragantino, with the one game determining who face Ituano or Botafogo/SP in the semi-finals.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

MV.
The always relevant Verdazzo published an important piece last Wednesday, exposing the perils Palmeiras supporters might face on their way to, during and after the away game against Santos at Vila Belmiro this coming Sunday.

Summing up the situation: after the 2013 incident at the airport in Buenos Aires, Palmeiras president Paulo Nobre cut all ties with the Mancha Verde supporter group. Not that it had any effect on the presence of the Mancha at stadiums (and not that it was intended to have any effect): home games were never a problem due to the large amount of tickets available, and for away games the MV normally secured the amount they needed by different methods – some of them acceptable and others not so much. That’s the way it is and has been for quite some time.

Well, times they are a changing. After the ruckus during distribution of tickets to the Corinthians vs. Palmeiras clash a few weeks back – where queues outside and inside the club got completely out of hand – the Palmeiras administration has taken an innovating step further in the strengthening of the Avanti membership programme: provide tickets to important away games based on Avanti member’s rating. It’s fairly simple: records are kept on Avanti member’s stadium visits and compiled into a ranking. Against Santos, 700 tickets have been made available for the visiting team. Palmeiras have bought them all and sent an e-mail to the 700 highest-ranking Avanti members, offering them a ticket each at a fixed price. Unsold tickets are advertised a second time to the next set of people on the ranking. Any unsold tickets after he second round will then be made available on a first-come-first-serve basis, Avanti member or not.

The initiative is worth all the praise, as it effectively rewards those who work the turnstile the most. At least, as long as these are Avanti members. And there’s absolutely no reason they shouldn’t be. Be they Mancha Verde or not.

Now, going back to the Verdazzo text, there’s a genuine and legitimate concern for the safety of those 700 palmeirenses heading for the Vila Belmiro. For the first time in ages, there’s no telling how or even if the Mancha Verde will be present. That will have implications on how much chanting and support the relatively small Palmeiras section will be able to convey to our players. Equally or more important: it will have implications on how much protection will be available for our supporters. The Verdazzo convincingly argues that, unless preventive police work is flawlessly executed, the risk of a disaster is overwhelming, as Santos supporters are likely to take advantage of the situation. “It will be the ultimate test to whether Paulo Nobre was right in maintaining an inflexible approach [toward the Mancha Verde]“, Cacace concludes.

But that last sentence is where this space and the Verdazzo will differ. Perhaps in part because I’m not much familiar with the stands, having been to few home games and even fewer away game. In the eyes of some, that alone might be enough to disqualify my opinion entirely. On the other hand, the distance might be what allows me to maintain my focus on principle, even under pressing circumstances like these.

Nobre cut ties with all organized supporter groups based on the principle that physical aggression is incompatible with the society we want to live in and the club’s philosophy. How cynical would it not be if he initiated a rapprochement with the Mancha Verde because Palmeiras, in a sense, need their services as storm troopers, need their protection?

S.E. Palmeiras must do what it can to cater for the supporters’ basic needs, but protection is not one of those: that’s for the authorities and the police to handle. Certainly, Palmeiras should be in constant dialogue with authorities, with the police, and cooperate as much as possible with the aim to increase security for everyone involved. However, at the end of the day, the buck stops with the authorities, with the police.

To lay blame on Nobre for what eventually might go wrong in Santos on Sunday is illogical and inconsistent.

UPDATE: Less than an hour after the publication of this text, three people trashed the Avanti ticket booth in an act of dissatisfaction  for “only” be allowed one ticket each: they wanted 90 tickets out of the total 700 and presented the money. When denied the extended purchase, they attacked the vendor and destroyed equipment and furniture.

Palmeiras responded by suspending the selling of remaining tickets. Full cooperation with the police is expected in a joint effort to identify the perpetrators and bring charges against them. President Nobre issued a firm statement in the afternoon, making clear that the club’s policy remains firm, that Avanti will be the mechanism through which supporters preferably will get their tickets, and that Palmeiras will not bend under pressure.

At this point, there are no information on whether the perpetrators would be members of any of the organised supporter groups.

The tremendous success of TV Palmeiras has escaped nobody: subscriptions to the youtube channel have skyrocketed since the re-launch, under management of Arnaldo Hase, in late January. In less than two months, TV Palmeiras has gone from some 20.000 subscriptions to 229.000, not only overtaking Santos as the largest Brazilian youtube football channel, but also leaving behind international giants Bayern Munich, Milan and, recently, Liverpool. Currently 6th on the global ranking, TV Palmeiras are only some 20.000 subscribers short of overtaking Manchester City, then Juventus; it’s just a matter of time. The leap is then a little bigger to Chelsea, before facing the considerable gap up to the two giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, with well over a million subscribers each.

Training routines, interviews, pre-game preparation… TV Palmeiras gives the supporter clues to what running a large football club is all about, on and off the pitch. More importantly, it shows the man in the jersey, with his personal aspirations, anxieties, hopes, fears and faith. TV Palmeiras brings the supporter closer to the club and the players, strengthening the bond. If you haven’t signed up yet, here’s the address.

While on the topic: stay tuned for an upcoming and exclusive interview with the man responsible for Manchester United TV, one of only four 24 hours football club TV channels.

— ooo —

Last Wednesday, Palmeiras made their debut in the Brazil Cup against Vilhena. For the first time in 100 years, the Verdão faced a team from the state of Rondônia, with the meagre victory not sufficient to eliminate a second leg. The disappointing performance can be blamed on the poor quality of the pitch, heavy rains, the fatigue of the Palmeiras squad due to the long travel, and the ref turning a blind eye toward the home team’s destructive game plan. However, coach Kleina also carries considerable share of the blame for completely misreading the conditions, not enforcing creativeness on the midfield and opting for strikers that preferably carry the ball in velocity. Return game in São Paulo on 10 April: a date right in between the two final games in the São Paulo championship (we’re certainly expecting Palmeiras to go that far).

— ooo —

Three days after the game in Vilhena, Palmeiras played Ponte Preta in the penultimate round of the group phase in the Paulistão. The clash was highly entertaining, as both teams aggressively sought the three points. Although a little shaky in defence from time to time, Palmeiras showed convincing superiority during the game and certainly deserved the victory. As Santos only drew their game, Palmeiras only need a draw against same Santos this coming Sunday in order to enjoy home advantage throughout the whole knockout stage, including the finals (Palmeiras have already secured that advantage for the quarter and semi-finals). The heat is on.
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Still on the game against Ponte Preta:  

It was victory no. 2.995 in the history of Palmeiras.

It meant something special for striker Vinícius, reaching the mark of 100 games for Palmeiras. Vinícius is also the youngest player to have entered the pitch wearing our colours as a professional in the A-Team, 16 years and 8 months at his debut in late March 2010.

To finish things off, a third curiosity: Valdivia, celebrating Palmeiras’ third goal, hugging… the ref.
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