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It’s been a green week, with nothing but good news.

fellypeOffensive midfielder Fellype Gabriel finally pulled on the jersey, now legally a Palmeiras player and in condition to play for the club. Signed in May, the 29-year-old was awaiting legal matters to settle with his former club Al Sharjah, from the Emirates. Having trained with the Palmeiras squad for more than two months, Fellype hasn’t played a game in nearly a year due to a series of injuries sustained while at his former club; the most serious being one to his left knee. The carioca’s international career includes three seasons with Kashima Antlers of Japan. In Brazil, he has previously played for both Flamengo and Cruzeiro. Contract with Palmeiras running until end of 2017. Welcome and good luck, Fellype!

leandro_leavingAnother piece of excellent news: striker Leandro is leaving the squad, having been lent to Santos for the remainder of the season. Although considered very promising at first, the kid never took off at Palmeiras except for that short spell in the first months of 2013, which even rendered him an opportunity with the National squad. Leandro gets on palmeirenses’ nerves, his apparent lack of emotion and motivation possibly being the primary source of frustration. Come think of it, he rarely seemed happy at the club. Good for him he is moving on, good for Palmeiras. Hopefully, Santos can spark his return to good form, enabling Palmeiras to cash in if/when he transfers permanently to Santos or any other club.

Palmeiras have launched their official app. “What took them so long?” is a justified question. Nevertheless, now it’s here and it was worth the wait: the app is excellent. Available for iOS and Android (sorry, Portuguese only for now), it’s fast, sporting a great user interface and loaded with information. I like it a lot. And with more than 200.000 downloads in the first week – already occupying first position among Brazilian football club apps – it’s rather safe to assume you will like it too.

Speaking of breaking records: last Monday, Palmeiras made available the tickets for Sunday’s 11 o’clock game against Atlético Paranaense. By Wednesday, they were all gone. Every single one, and all sold through the internet, which is a first in Brazilian football. Congratulations, Palmeiras. And congratulations, palmeirenses, once again showing the why’s and how’s of Palmeiras being the team with the highest attendance average in this year’s Brazilian championship.

Two games from this the 16th round were played already on Wednesday, curiously enough both games involving the two contenders currently ahead of Palmeiras in the tables. Atlético Mineiro beat São Paulo 3-1, while Corinthians beat Vasco 3-0. Meaning Palmeiras must really bag the three points on Sunday.

When things go well, everybody wants a piece of the cake, and that applies even if you’re a Cake Boss. A couple of weeks back, against Santos, Buddy Valastro and family were at the Allianz Parque, for the first time enjoying a game of football in Brazil. No wonder the Italian-American celebrity chef chose a Palmeiras game, while in São Paulo to oversee the production of a Brazilian version of “Cake Boss”. Welcome to the family, Buddy!
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There are reasons behind Vasco being in the relegation zone. As there are reasons behind Palmeiras having conquered 19 out of the last 21 points. Vasco were pumped after three straight victories – including against Fluminense – and supporters showed up in decent numbers at the São Januário stadium yesterday, expecting another good performance. Not least since Vasco had not lost to Palmeiras at home in seven years.

It was a massacre. With three minutes, Leandro Pereira open up the scorecard. Minutes later, the same Leandro hit a header into the goalpost. At 17 minutes Dudu increased the lead and at 34, Victor Ramos left his mark. Nine minutes into the second half, Leandro bagged his second, making it 4-0. Vasco got a consolation goal toward the end of the game in an otherwise 100% alviverde night.
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Six weeks ago, I thought it a mistake to fire coach Oswaldo de Oliveira. I now recognise I was wrong. Marcelo Oliveira has brought the team to a different level. True, the base was there, Oswaldo did good work initially. Then things stagnated. Palmeiras’ directors faced the eternal dilemma: wait and see or change it up. They opted for the latter, as always in the world of Brazilian football. And I criticised them for it, I and many others.

Palmeiras of today score more goals, conceive less goals, cross the ball much less, have less possession but are more objective. A week of training, and you see evolution on the pitch. Another week, and more evolution. Both technical and especially tactical. The team is fast, compact, dedicated – in offence and defence. With a consistent starting line-up, coach Marcelo is changing it up with his substitutions during the games, keeping everybody on their toes. He has a lot of material to draw from: players are coming out of the medical department but few to none are going in. Luck or skill? Possibly a bit of both, but something has changed also in this aspect, players sustaining fewer injuries.

leandro_pereiraA final word of praise to Leandro Pereira, who is experiencing a glorious phase. You know a striker has reached his personal nirvana when everything he does looks simple like abc. That’s where Leandro is right now. Occam’s razor. Natural and deadly effective. May it last a long time. And if it doesn’t, no problem: Barrios, Cristaldo and Alecsandro are there to contribute.

Palmeiras have overtaken Grêmio, Fluminense and Sport to occupy third place in the tables, four points behind leaders Atlético Mineiro and two behind Corinthians. The trio all have home games next weekend: Atlético Mineiro take on São Paulo, Corinthians face Vasco and Palmeiras receive Atlético Paranaense.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Today, 21 July 2015, Anything Palmeiras celebrates 5 years of existence. We started off small and we are still small, although it’s been no less than 648 posts throughout the years – roughly one post every three days. With readers scattered all around the globe, some 5.880 facebook followers and 6.960 on twitter, I can assure you that the incentives to keep it up are considerable. And so is the positive feedback I receive every day. I do it for you guys. I trust you know who you are.

Through the years, some posts have caused more of a stir than others. Below, the top five of all time – literarily, Anything Palmeiras’ greatest hits. Enjoy!

#1 The story of Kevin – a Celtic supporter expelled from a Corinthians game for wearing the wrong colours.

#2 Open letter to Mr Zlatan Ibrahimović.

#3 You find palmeirenses everywhere, even among the Kayapó Indians.

#4 Early attempts to get the “stehplatz” concept implemented at the Allianz Parque drew a lot of attention.

#5 One of the very few posts in Portuguese: collecting votes for the 2013 Football Blogging Awards.

#Bonus (and a personal favourite): a post from 2010 on the shady business involving Teixeira, Kassab, Sanchez, BNDES, Odebrecht, Lula… 
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*Viking Pig illustration courtesy of the one and only Custódio Rosa Filho: expect more international pigs in the months to come!

Comes as no surprise to most of us that the highly regarded Brazilian Tribunal for Sports maintained its previous ruling, sentencing Palmeiras forward Dudu to a 180 days suspension for having pushed referee Guilherme Cereta after receiving the red card in the final of this year’s São Paulo championship against Santos.

Dudu’s behaviour was unacceptable, and I don’t consider the ruling absurd in itself. The absurdity lies is ignoring previous and recent trials where players have behaved in a similar fashion but received light sentences – the most obvious example being the three-game ban Petrus (Corinthians) received in September of 2014.
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It’s not about defending the wrong, but defending equal treatment and predictability. Remember Barcos’ hand goal (more info here and here), disallowed after the judge indirectly used electronic aid to determine the outcome? How come Palmeiras always seem to be on the receiving end – be it when there are sudden calls to follow the law to the letter, or, as in the Barcos case, completely disregard the law?

Palmeiras have appealed and the Dudu case will now be brought before the Brazilian Superior Tribunal of Sports, the infamous STJD. Date yet to be set. Expect the worse.

Yesterday’s game celebrated 100 years of rivalry between Palmeiras and Santos, with the presence of legendary players entering the pitch together with the two squads. The game itself was a rather nervous affair, with both teams battling for supremacy in midfield. Santos had considerable more ball possession but did little with it, Palmeiras pressuring high and on several occasions launching rapid counter-attacks. The objectiveness made all the difference: Leandro Pereira executed a textbook receive-turn-shoot manoeuvre to score the only goal 14 minutes into the first half.
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Coach Oliveira summed it up neatly. “When you cannot be brilliant, you need to be efficient in order to win the game. That is what we did. It was an important victory, but we suffered more than we should have needed to”. With nothing but next Sunday’s game against Vasco da Gama to worry about, Oliveira has indicated he will focus on two things during this week’s training sessions: ball transition from defence to offense and positioning.

With a little over 38.200 spectators at the Allianz Parque yesterday, Palmeiras made a net profit of some R$ 2 million (US$ 620.000). And although Alexandre Mattos says the squad is now complete with the arrival of Lucas Barrios, something tells me a playmaker might be in his sights. Actually, should be.

Speaking of Barrios: yesterday our #10 forward came on with some 20 minutes to go on the clock and Palmeiras already in a frenzy to secure the victory. Not the best scenario for a debut, but I think Oliveira did the right thing, giving the huge home crowd a treat.

So far in the Brasileirão, Palmeiras have fared more than well against the other three major teams in São Paulo: 2-0 away against Corinthians, 4-0 against SPFC and now 1-0 against Santos.

tables_15.07.20Marcelo Oliveira’s score in the Brasileirão is also impressive: after the initial 1-0 defeat to Grêmio, it has been five victories and one draw. Add to that the victory against ASA in the Brazil Cup.

Palmeiras are currently in sixth place, four points behind leaders Atlético Mineiro, who lost Saturday to Corinthians. In addition, Fluminense and Grêmio lost their matches, making the tables even more compact. His year’s edition of the Brazilian championship will be a close affair no doubt.

Two days of rest for the squad, then training. On Sunday, things heat up as I put on my Palmeiras jersey and the missus, her Vasco top.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Against ASA, Palmeiras read Fernando Prass; João Pedro, Victor Ramos, Jackson and João Paulo; Amaral and Andrei Girotto (Dudu); Leandro (Gabriel Jesus), Cleiton Xavier and Kelvin (Gabriel); Cristaldo. That’s right: only two out of eleven names we would normally associate with a starting eleven – Prass and Ramos. Marcelo Oliveira took a calculated risk, with the backing of professionals in Palmeiras’ physical department as well as club directors: allow key players to rest and train ahead of Sunday’s upcoming clash with Santos, but run the risk of an early exit from the Brazil Cup.   

The pitch was awful. The referee was awful. During the first 45 minutes, Palmeiras dominated but created little. The second half was going down the same route when Marcelo Oliveira decided he had had enough and promoted Dudu and Gabriel Jesus, who rapidly changed the dynamics of the game. At 24 minutes, Jesus scored his first goal as a professional for Palmeiras, a goal that propelled Palmeiras into the round of 16. The boy got rather emotional: check out the video here.

Sunday, it’s hammer time.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

With the holidays coming to an end, so does the one-liners…

On 8 July, Palmeiras beat Avaí 3-0 in the 12th round of the Brazilian championship, goals by Rafael Marques, Lucas and Cristaldo.

As expected, club president Paulo Nobre has confirmed that Valdivia will not renew his contract with Palmeiras, the Chilean midfielder heading for Al-Wahda (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) when his contract with the Verdão ends in mid-August.

Last Sunday, Palmeiras drew 2-2 with Sport, becoming the first team in 2015 to yank points from the Recife team at their home grounds; it’s well worth checking out the highlights below.
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Palmeiras officially announced the signing of striker Lucas Barrios earlier this week, the Argentine-born Paraguayan having signed a contract over three seasons – more on this to follow shortly, stay tuned.

The Allianz Parque facebook page is rapidly closing in on the 500K mark and has become the most popular Brazilian sports venue on social media, overtaking the legendary Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

Today Palmeiras – without Arouca and Zé Roberto – take on ASA in the second leg of the Brazil Cup for a spot in the round of 16, the first game against ASA resulting in a goalless draw.

Finalizing, a quick look at the status of athletes recovering from injury:

Alecsandro – likely to return next week, the striker, recently arrived from Flamengo, is in the final stages of recovery from a muscular injury.

Alione – the Argentine midfielder had knee surgery in April and is gradually stepping up intensity during training sessions, albeit yet not participating in collective activities.

Felype Gabriel – back at training with the ball after an injury to the left leg, the offensive midfielder is finalizing his recovery period with muscle-strengthening activities.

Mouche – after tearing knee ligaments in mid-January, the forward is participating fully in all training sessions and is expected back, if only on the bench at first, within a couple of weeks.

Robinho – the midfielder is in the final stages of recovery after a minor muscle injury and should, like Alecsandro, be available for play as of next week.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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