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It’s been some time since we last had a “Sonar pings”. Not since August of last year, actually. Well, the number of recent events surely justifies one.

ArancibiaTwo players are expected to join Palmeiras within days. First on the list – the 20th reinforcement for the season – is Chilean playmaker Francisco Arancibia. The midfielder is only 18 year old, but has been called up to almost every youth national squad in his short career. Arancibia spent last week with the Chilean national squad, preparing for today’s friendly against Brazil in London (1-0 Brazil). Next week he’ll get on a plane and join Palmeiras on an 18 months loan, with an option to buy fixed at US$ 600.000. Arancibia will initially train and play with Palmeiras’ U20 squad, but is expected to work his way up in due time.

egidioThe eminent arrival of Arancibia has been known for some time, which couldn’t be said for upcoming reinforcement number two. The chronology of events in three sentences: on Friday morning, Palmeiras’ left-defender João Paulo tears ankle ligaments during a training session. On Saturday morning, left-defender Egídio – Brazilian champion with Cruzeiro 2013-2014 seasons – is released from his contract with Ukrainian club F.C. Dinipro due to unpaged wages. On Saturday night, Mattos announces that Egídio is expected in São Paulo on Monday to undergo medical exams and sign a three-year agreement with Palmeiras. Massive.

Mattos understands the importance of having a squad strong enough to withstand the above-average quantities of injuries in Brazilian football: an exaggerated number of games and sometimes poor pitch quality take their toll. Then there’s the occasional calling up for national squads – Valdivia was serving Chile just now and this week João Pedro was called up for the Olympic squad and Gabriel Jesus for the U20 national squad. Not much to complain about: in the end, of course we want Palmeiras players to become notorious worldwide. Even if it means, like in Gabriel Jesus’ case, that he will miss the quarter and semi-final stages of the São Paulo championship.

Speaking of the Paulista: Palmeiras are mathematically through to the knockout stage, where the top eight battle it out. Results from the two remaining rounds will define home advantage. This year’s edition of the Paulista has an insane design, where all teams face each other, with the top two from each group going through. As you can see from the tables below (courtesy of @palmeirenses_), distortions are guaranteed: currently, Audax total 19 points and are out, while Capivariano with 12 points are in. Tonight, Palmeiras play Red Bull Brasil, away.
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The week has been dominated by last Wednesday’s derby against São Paulo. Robinho was indeed graced with a plaque by Palmeiras president Nobre for the outstanding goal. Paleirenses can’t stop smiling. The excellent result against “the enemy” is one thing, but the joke being on Rogério Ceni… It doesn’t get much better than this.
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We had two new features at the Allianz Parque this week. The “Pig Tunnel” is an inflatable structure from which the players emerge onto the pitch in true NFL style. Not only does it look good: the tunnel is used for branding, increasing visibility of Palmeiras’ sponsors. Palmeiras that already have the most valuable jersey of all Brazilian clubs in 2015: US$ 15,5 million (R$ 50 million).
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The second feature was the presence of Food Trucks, increasing the options for hungry supporters. One of the trucks was a pasta truck, the other a “Viking Truck”, featuring among other things a smoked salmon sandwich. Yours truly being the only legit viking palmeirense around, beats me why the stadium administrators didn’t call me up for extensive test tasting: it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it.

All while TV Palmeiras, as first non-European team, closes in on the 300.000 subscribers mark.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Today, images will speak for themselves.

And you will learn an expression in Portuguese. Gol de Placa. A Goal so outstanding, so beautiful, so memorable it deserves its own plaque, preferably fixed in a prominent place in the stadium.
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First big issues of 2015*

Oswaldo de Oliveira is always a reminder of the real situation Palmeiras are in: a work in progress. With 8 wins and 3 losses, we can say 2015 is a good year o far, but there are lots of adjustments needed for the next phases of the Paulistão and the Copa do Brasil.

Palmeiras’ clash with Santos was disappointing. Many supporters were hoping for victory against a major team, but instead of keeping the leading roll of the first 10 minutes, Palmeiras were completely dominated by the Meninos da Vila, who controlled the midfield, scored 2 goals and called on Prass to executed miracles several times.

There were no changes in the tactical layout: the 4-2-3-1 system was kept, with Allione and Dudu on the flanks and Gabriel and Arouca as defensive midfielders. At first, it seemed it would be a thrashing result with Victor Hugo’s goal and good possession. But, for a reason we still would like to know, Palmeiras started to slow down the pace and let Santos advance their lines, looking for Robinho or Lucas Lima on the left side of the field.
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There is no problem with relaxing, but Palmeiras’ marking system was too bad to keep up with a good result. Some weeks ago, the man-to-man marking system was the catalyser for Ponte Preta’s and Corinthians’ victories at the Allianz Parque. Now, it appeared again as the main cause for Santos’ good offensive game. As Dudu and Allione were less obedient when not carrying the ball, Victor Ferraz and Cicinho were always free of marking, allowing Robinho and Oliveira to penetrate behind Tobio.
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Tobio deserves a paragraph of his own for his bad performance against Santos. As a defender, he was always trying to anticipate the next play, causing a big hole in the area in front of the goal. This is very common in Brazilian football – just recall David Luiz in the World Cup. Applying speed, Ricardo Oliveira and Robinho caused confusion in Palmeiras’ marking system and appeared free, or passed to ball to a penetrating midfielder, in this case, Renato.
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It was Palmeiras’ worst game in 2015, and the next battle would not be a walk in the park either: XV de Piracicaba, a small-town club, came to Allianz Parque to park the bus and spend all 90 minutes defending their goal. As our greatness demands, Oswaldo knew it and always asked for his players to keep the ball away from the opponent, passing it around, looking to create space.
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Again, the prospect was unsuccessful, mainly because of Dudu and Allione. As wingers, they have to protect the left and right backs (as they did not against Santos) and, with the ball, they have to create space by using the flanks and then turn inwards, creating the famous numerical superiority.

But our #20 and specially our #7 were not so interested in doing this. Instead, they chose the wrong option when playing small clubs: dribbling in the midfield. Look at the image: there is no use in dribbling Dudu’s marker, because there is another man right by his side, protecting the space. This led to 80 minutes of possession and no shots. Only Gabriel, after a corner, saved the game.
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We saw the same difficulties repeated against São Bernardo. Does this mean that the team is poor and that everything is wrong? Certainly not. Oswaldo’s 4-2-3-1 is defined and well-trained. It only needs a better execution. The problem lies not in players, the coach or something else. Look at the frame below: Arouca, Lucas and Cristaldo correctly sync their movements on the flank to create a numerical superiority and Rafael and Dudu are in the area, waiting for the ball. But there is no one in the central area.
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This is normal: Palmeiras have played only 11 games in 2015. Palmeiras are more a “work in progress” than a team, as supporters expect to be. Against São Paulo, we hope to see improvement, but in the end of the day, I think you will reason with me: it’s better to be a work in progress now, in the middle of March, than in May, in the final phases of the Paulistão and with the Brazilian championship about to kick off.

* by Leonardo Miranda

Palmeiras keep winning, but not convincingly. A growing part of supporters expresses concern about the – in their perception – limited to no development on the pitch as of late. Most would agree the squad is fairly qualified and balanced, meaning coach Oswaldo de Oliveira is taking the rap. You can talk about the Paulistão being just a warming up to the “real” competitions as much as you want: Palmeiras’ dry spell in clássicos, including the two out of two lost this year, is an itch hard to ignore. Wednesday, we have the choque-rei against São Paulo. Although coach Oliveira says “the game means nothing”, he must not underestimate the destructive power of another defeat, especially when playing at home.

Can we trust coach Oliveira’s training methods and tactics? How long is long enough to make a team mesh? Should we start worrying, or is it way to early for that? Leave your comments.
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Today, 21 March 2015, marks the 10th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day. The date highlights the trisomy of the 21st chromosome.

To all a little extra special people out there, and to all a little extra special palmeirenses, our most heartfelt abraço!
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For over a thousand years, 17 March is Saint Patrick’s Day, the day the Irish celebrate their patron. Saint Patrick’s Day is a national holiday in Ireland and also in other countries with many Irish descendants like Canada, UK, Australia, the United States and New Zealand. Ireland is known as the “Emerald Isle” because of its vast green steppes. No wonder that the colour of Ireland, and consequently also Saint Patrick’s, is green. In São Paulo, as part of the celebrations, several monuments were illuminated, including a viaduct, a library, a bridge and a statue – all this catered for by the municipality.

The Irish Minister for Education and Skills, Mrs Jan O’Sullivan, spent the last few days in Brazil. In addition to inaugurating the Irish Consulate General in São Paulo, Mrs O’Sullivan attended several meetings with institutions and universities linked to the “Science without borders” programme. She also announced the launching of a Master’s degree scholarship programme for Brazilian students.

With such a distinguished representative from the greenest of countries in São Paulo, the Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras naturally seized the opportunity to present the Minister with a Palmeiras jersey. A white model was chosen, highlighting the signature of the squad’s captain Zé Roberto. The contact between the Irish delegation and Palmeiras was brokered by yours truly.
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Minister Jan O’Sullivan was delighted. “I am honoured to have been presented a Palmeiras jersey signed by the ‘craque’ Zé Roberto. As a Government Minister from a small green country, it feels right for me to join all the great palmeirenses. I wish the club all the very best of luck for the rest of the season!” she stated shortly before leaving the country.

It is Palmeiras, once again, conquering hearts and minds!
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After two years of negotiations between representatives of football clubs, Congress and the Government, President Dilma Rousseff today signed the provisional measure that addresses, among other things, the debt of Brazilian football clubs with tax authorities, estimated at a whopping  R$ 4 billion (US$ 1.25 billion). As the law takes effect, clubs will be allowed between 120 to 240 months to pay off their debts with tax authorities, in monthly parcels and at interest rates of 2-6 per cent.  

Earlier this January, Rousseff vetoed a similar version of the decree, as it contained nothing that obliged clubs to address the root of the problem: irresponsible management practices. The decree signed today contains these mitigating measures, obliging clubs to:  

- publish standardized financial statements audited by independent companies
– pay all fees and taxes on time, including social security, labour and contractual contributions, and image rights
– not spend more than 70% of gross revenue on professional football
– maintain a minimum and permanent investment in youth and women’s football
– not anticipate revenues from subsequent terms, except in very specific situations
– adopt a progressive schedule, aiming at zero deficit by 2021

Clubs that break the rules risk being  downgraded to a lower division. In addition, directors of clubs can be made legally responsible for their actions.
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In her speech, President Dilma recognised that the chaotic situation in many football clubs stems from a combination of anachronistic legislation, little professional management structures, lack of transparency and accountability mechanisms, resulting in a high level of debt.

Representing the clubs at today’s event, president of Flamengo Eduardo Bandeira de Mello stressed that the main virtue of the project was not the refinance of debts, but the necessary measures of accountability and governance that came with it, moralizing and revolutionizing the management of Brazilian football.

After being published in the official annals, the decree turns into a law valid for up to 120 days. During that period, a special committee composed of members of parliament from both chambers examine the text, approve it, rejects it or suggest changes. In the case of the latter, it will have to go back for voting n the Congress before again being brought up before the president for a final approval or rejection.

The law is an important step forward. There are still major question marks regarding who will be responsible for monitoring the clubs’ compliance and who will have punishing authority. Ideally, an external organ should be set up, having a mandate to regularly, for example on a monthly basis, make sure clubs are honouring their obligations. Another welcome feature would be progressive punishments, with clubs loosing points when behaving badly. The “sudden death” approach, with relegation or no relegation being the only option, tends to both limit the inclination for punishing wrongdoers and, rather contradictious to the previous statement, open up frightening prospects for foul play and traps.

Many things in Brazil look good on paper, and only on paper. Time will tell.

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