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Posts Tagged ‘injuries’

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At times, the only reaction is “you gotta be kidding”. With Palmeiras through to the knockout phases in the Copa Libertadores and the São Paulo Championship, the last game against Ituano should have been a formality, the only spice being a possibility to advance a position or two in the tables to seek easier opponents in the quarter-finals. Well, Palmeiras not only lost 2-1, but lost Fernando Prass: our keeper was harshly challenged by an opponent inside the penalty area while clearing a ball and fell badly, injuring his left shoulder. Six to eight weeks out of combat is the doctor’s verdict, meaning Bruno will be our hope between the posts during the concluding stages of the abovementioned tournaments. Bruno, who came on against Ituano and can be held directly responsible for the two goals suffered.

Making things worse, the causes for pains centre-back Vilson had been feeling in his left knee proved worse than expected, the player this morning undergoing a surgical procedure to remove fragments from the knee. At least four weeks away from the pitch. Vilson is one of the few newcomers available for the Libertadores Cup. Or rather, was.

Palmeiras’ medical department also includes Patrick Vieira, Valdivia, Kléber, Leandro Amaro, and Edilson. Chronic structural problems? Bad luck? I bit of both? A lot of both? In any case, Valdivia and Kléber could be ready for Saturday’s game. Let’s hope they are not only ready but hungry as Bayern Munich.

This coming Saturday, a single quarter-final decision against Santos. Already the following day, Palmeiras should be heading for Mexico to face Tijuana, on artificial grass, on the last day of the month. My guess is that we roll all over Santos but lose rather badly to Tijuana.

— ooo —

Midfielder Souza’s contract expires at the end of the year. Palmeiras wanted an extension, but Souza’s recent success has clearly gone to his head and his salary demands were simply insane. Seems he’s gotten a raise as an attempt to keep him happy, but the redhead might be looking closely at offers likely to materialise mid-semester. It would be a shame if he left prematurely, but on the other hand if money’s all he’s thinking about, better leave sooner than later. He has the capacity to write history at Palmeiras: hope he’s ready to listen to anyone who could spell that  out for him.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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The rollercoaster has, at least temporary, decided to operate like an elevator. Margins are small in football, as in life, and it’s absolutely too early to claim there’s enough stability and quality in the Palmeiras squad to see us through 2013 in a satisfactory manner. Still, recent results point in the right direction: the fundamental victory against Tigre last week and yesterday’s (surprising, yes, but convincing) away win against until now undefeated Ponte Preta elevated Palmeiras’ winning streak to three – a handsom cash-in had you placed your bets accordingly, for example at www.casinoonline.pt.

In both recent games, players showed remarkable determination, especially when compared to the disastrous night against Mirassol. The game that went to the history books as Palmeiras’ worst first half ever happened only a few weeks ago, but the change of posture is clear. There are a number of plausible reasons for this: the large number of younger players in the squad might have needed the extra time to grow comfortable as a collective; the many new arrivals might feel they need to mark position; coach Kleina’s pragmatic approach of experimenting and using whatever he deems best for the day without paying much attention to neither player’s nor supporter’s opinions could also be playing a part in creating healthy competition within the squad. And then, of course, there’s the natural effect of positive results, and the recognition that comes with it. Take Leandro, the young striker recently arrived from Grêmio. He was called up by Scolari for the national team friendly against Bolivia last week, scored in his debut, then flew back to score the winning goal against Ponte Preta. That’s how you make an impression. Leandro is on loan until the end of the year, but with a fixed price tag of allegedly 5 million euros if Palmeiras wish to buy. Should turn into one hell of an investment. Make it happen, Nobre.

Speaking of Nobre: the articulate, balanced, focused and dedicated president is such a relief. Many palmeirense seem already have forgotten the feeling of shame we felt every time Tirone, Frizzo or Piraci de Oliveira opened their mouths. I haven’t. Might never.

There’s more: very little to no news from the backstage of Palmeiras reach us through mainstream media. Internal meetings, internal documents, locker room talk: all remain closed to outsiders. Wherever the leakages – constant in previous administrations – Nobre’s plugged them.

One of few worries is the elevated number of players in the medical department. Bad luck or bad professionals preparing our players physically? A thorough investigation must be carried out and Palmeiras go after the best available on the market: Palmeiras pay players way to much to afford having them not playing all they could.

Thursday, against Libertad, a few men should be back, most notably captain Henrique but possibly also Valdivia, Kleber and Mr Milk. For once, Kleina has more than he needs. Henrique should be in the starting eleven, but doubtfully any of the other three. Depending on how the game progresses, I’d say we might see Valdivia and Leite in the second half.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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There’s no end to the pain. Right-winger Artur and defensive midfielder Márcio Araújo with muscle fatigue, playmaker Daniel Carvalho and forward Maikon Leite with ruptures in their respective left thighs, forward Luan recovering from a injury to his right thigh, midfielder Wesley on his long way back after his knee surgery. Six right there. Add the casualty from Sunday’s game: Valdivia feeling his left thigh (no you don’t get a prize for correct answer). Seven. Then, the latest shockers: Assunção will indeed need a knee arthroscopy and 30 days of recovery after that. Sounds bad? Try this: left-winger and recent playmaker fill-in Fernandinho tore his left knee apart during Saturday’s practice session, today underwent four hours of surgery and is expected back in 8 MONTHS. That’s nine players out. As you’ve noticed, several of them long-term.

With the above scenario, Scolari might not even have enough athletes to fill the bench tomorrow against Botafogo. Worse: with Valdivia, Carvalho and Fernandinho out, who’s the playmaker tomorrow and in the future? Patrik? Mazinho? A retracted Obina? As Scolari seems reluctant to use players from the youth academy, these could very well be our options. Not that it would do much difference in the South America Cup: the younger prospects are not enlisted in the competition anyway. And with the international transfer window closed and most (decent) first division players having already completed seven games in this year’s Brasileirão

Palmeiras’ directors think they have found the answer: 22-year-old Jaílton. The midfielder is rumoured to arrive soon at Palmeiras, leaving 2nd division Avaí where he’s currently warming the bench. Yes, that’s right. And it gets even scarier: apparently our directors are ready to cough up US$ 1.2 million for only 50 per cent of the federative rights of the player. Reckless, if it indeed goes through; the deal’s yet to be confirmed and could be nothing but a smoke screen. God, have it be a smoke screen.

Avanti Palestra!

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Last Wednesday Palmeiras played poorly against Paulista and especially Valdivia hung his head. One could tell something wasn’t right with our little magician on this night of Wesley’s debut and striker Vinícius perhaps last shot at fame and fortune (didn’t work, by the way). In the end, Palmeiras maintained a grip on the top three positions after a late and solitary goal by João Vítor. Highlights below.
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Valdivia was taken off the pitch in the second half, not feeling very well and in pain. Turns out a new muscular injury has been detected in his left thigh, probably something similar to the one he suffered against Santos in February. Although this one has been classified as “minor”, it will still keep him away from the pitch for an estimated 30 days. 2012 is already starting to resemble 2011. Worse, in fact.

I could start feeding you data and statistics, number of games played, performance… But I won’t. We don’t need to crunch numbers in order to see how dramatically little Valdivia has contributed to Palmeiras ever since his return to the club in 2010. And we’re talking about none other than the most expensive player in the squad, loved by many palmeirenses and hated by rival supporters for his irreverent and provocative ways.

I’m in no position to judge to what extension (if at all) Valdivia’s behaviour off the pitch is contributing to his frequent injuries. Neither do I have the tools to look inside his head, although he seems motivated enough to me. But something’s not right. Can it be fixed? Impossible to tell unless we have the right diagnosis. Which we might never have.

A personal reflection: we’re approaching the end of the line and Palmeiras and Valdivia will soon part. The cost/benefit just isn’t anywhere close to what’s needed for Palmeiras to sustain a player like El Mago for much longer. Patience will start running thin, independently of who’s to blame for the frequent injuries, Valdivia’s poor performance and his apparently endless streak of bad luck. It’s a shame, it really is. Valdivia has bonded with Palmeiras and the supporters; the supporters have bonded with him. I hope I’m proven wrong. I really do.
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