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Conmebol’s Disciplinary Committee has made public its ruling on the scandalous events following the Peñarol vs Palmeiras Libertadores Cup game. As previously reported, Felipe Melo received a six-game ban, while three Peñarol players received five games each. In addition, Peñarol must play their last home game before an empty stadium: a slap with a silk glove, as the Uruguayans are already eliminated from the tournament. Palmeiras on the other hand was sentenced to three away games without supporters, meaning that only in the case of advancing to the finals, palmeirenses will be present.

Palmeiras promptly issued a formal statement, which you find below, in a free translation.

“In view of the disclosure of Conmebol’s ruling on the incidents related to the match against Peñarol, the Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras hereby announce that:

1 – The feeling is one of total indignation and revolt for the lack of criteria in Conmebol´s application of penalties for the two clubs and their athletes.

2 – It is on the verge of mockery that Peñarol, the club responsible for the safety of the match and the one who did not fulfill its function, receives a penalty lower than that of Palmeiras. Palmeiras, both team and supporters, being the victim of an evident ambush, in addition to other crimes. It is worth remembering that, in spite of the tense atmosphere during the first leg against Peñarol, safety at the Allianz Parque was guaranteed by nearly 600 professionals, able to avoid any kind of incident. This contrasts to the tiny and unprepared group of 60 private security guards hired by the Uruguayan club for the second leg.

3 – The Conmebol Disciplinary Committee has short-sightedly preferred to base its evaluation on the consequences and not on the causes of events.

4 – Palmeiras reiterates what the club has sustained from the first moment, at the stadium in Montevideo: the club and its players were victims and not causers of the incidents after the game. We proved to Conmebol, through a vast selection of videos, photos and testimonies, what really happened in that game. By the outcome of the ruling, it seems technical criteria were not taken into account, which is completely inadmissible and inconsistent. It is unacceptable that a Palmeiras athlete be punished for defending himself against a clear attempt of aggression and that supporters – clearly cornered, attacked and the target of racist manifestations – are now prevented from following the team through the competition.

5 – Palmeiras’ Legal Department is preparing an appeal, contesting the penalties applied to player Felipe Melo and the club. The appeal will be brought before the Conmebol in the coming week.

6 – The Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras will seek justice. The club does not accept any other position of Conmebol’s Disciplinary Committee but a revision of its decision and a ruling solely based on technical criteria.”

Needless to say, supporters are wholeheartedly behind the club on this one. Many hold the opinion Palmeiras must withdraw from the tournament should Conmebol maintain its ruling.

For Palmeiras’ upcoming last game in the group stage on Wednesday, at home against Atlético Tucumán, a silent protest against Conmebol is planned. During the National Hymn, supporters on the stands will raise their arms towards the sky in the same manner Felipe Melo did after the final whistle against Peñarol. In the same manner he does after almost every game. In the same manner now labelled “a provocative gesture” by the referees and Conmebol, a gesture they argue sparked the violence.

Anything Palmeiras strongly urge everyone to adhere to the protest on Wednesday.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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Shoulder to shoulder, back to back. That’s how Palmeiras’ troop of security paved its way through the crowds to brake the hinges of the locked gate hindering our players to exit the feverishly hostile Campeón del Siglo stadium after the game against Peñarol. 

Their decisive action possibly saved lives. In recognition of their crucial intervention, Palmeiras president Mauricio Galiotte last Sunday, during the halftime break against Vasco, pinned a medal to the chest of each of the 20.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Sure, Vasco struggled in 2016 to secure promotion back into the first division. And sure, Vasco have not made any significant signings for the 2017 season.

Nevertheless, Vasco have played several major teams this year and never been beaten this thoroughly. Moreover, Cuca had only five (5) days to get the team ready.

What impresses the most is the almost full reversal to Palmeiras anno 2016 that Cuca was able to implement in the short amount of time available. Clearly, the defence needs tweaking, Vasco in the first half wasting several excellent opportunities to drive it home, but otherwise, Palmeiras were fast and furious, the characteristic initial blitz altering the scoreboard within four minutes through a penalty converted by Jean. Halfway through the first half, Vasco had levelled the action and only Prass kept Palmeiras in the lead. Cuca realised he had lost the midfield and instructed Tchê Tchê and Jean to swap positions, which immediately reversed the overall performance, again placing Palmeiras in the driver’s seat. Shortly before halftime, Guerra increased the lead.

Any hope Vasco nourished died within one minute of the second half, Borja making it 3-0 through a diving header peixinho-style. What followed was a walk in the park, Palmeiras blowing several opportunities before closing the scorecard with another penalty converted, this time by Borja. Both penalties bore Dudu’s signature, the “little giant” on fire. Also Tchê Tchê, Borja and Jean showed a lot more than in recent games under Eduardo Batista. It is undeniable: Cuca has this squad in a firm grip and should be able to extract truly great things given a month or two.
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Impossible ask for a better debut in the Brasileirão. However, there is a natural barrier to progress, which is time. Or, rather, the lack thereof. Going into a period with two games a week, space available for training is limited. Already this Wednesday, Palmeiras receive Internacional for the first leg of the knockout phase in the Brazil Cup group of 16. A few minutes of inattention and Palmeiras can say goodbye to the tournament, just as recently against Ponte Preta in the first leg of the Paulistão semi-finals.

Not that Cuca would allow that.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

vitor-hugo-palmeirasPalmeiras supporters are likely to have seen the last of Vitor Hugo. Coach Cuca today confirmed the centre-defender is heading for Fiorentina, in return for € 8 million. Out of these, € 4.5 million go to Palmeiras, who in turn will pass on € 1.75 million to Crefisa – the amount corresponds to what the sponsor paid for the athlete in 2015. Thus, Palmeiras’ net revenue are € 2.75 million. The remaining € 3.5 million belong to Tombense, the other holder of the player’s economic rights.

The European transfer windows only opens in June, but Vitor Hugo is likely to be released from his obligations as of now. For Palmeiras, he played a total of 131 games, scoring 13 goals. Anything Palmeiras wishes the humble, charismatic, talented and hard-working 25-year-old the best of luck on his new endeavour. Avanti, Vitor Hugo!

As an immediate response to Vitor Hugo’s exit, Palmeiras are set to sign Juninho, a left-footed 22-year-old currently at Coritiba. The youngster is expected in São Paulo tomorrow Saturday to undergo medical and sign the contract, price tag locked at € 3 million. I have a good feeling about this one.

Speaking of Coritiba: the club from Paraná yesterday confirmed the signing of Alecsandro, beating Bahia for the contract. Palmeiras will continue to pay the forward’s salaries throughout the year in an arrangement reached to settle an unresolved balance linked to Raphael Veiga’s transfer to Palmeiras earlier this year. The experience 36-year-old leaves through the front door after 62 games for the Verdão.

Another forward expected to leave any day is Rafael Marques: seasoned, still hungry, but with oh so little space in Palmeiras’ numerous squad. Cruzeiro is a possible destination, with a player from “the Fox” likely to be involved in a swap.

Finally, a piece of news we nourished hopes not having to declare, but was confirmed tonight: the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) sentenced Felipe Melo to six games of suspension for throwing a punch while chased by numerous Peñarol players after the final whistle in Montevideo late April (recap here and here). The original three Uruguayan aggressors received five games each. The Peñarol player caught on tape knocking Willian down seconds before the final whistle goes unpunished. It is a disgrace, it is a scandal, it is CONMEBOL in a nutshell. Palmeiras have already challenged the sentence, seeking it reduced to the minimum three games of suspension. Good luck with that.

In weeks, CONMEBOL will also rule on the responsibility of each team for what happened in Uruguay. Nothing good can come out of this. At Anything Palmeiras, we stand our ground: should CONMEBOL slap a significant punishment on Palmeiras for being ambushed at the Campeón del Siglo, Palmeiras should walk out on the tournament altogether.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Yesterday, Palmeiras president Maurício Galiotte met the press, with Cuca on his left, announcing Eduardo Baptista’s replacement. From Palmeiras, certainly a discrete probing and an even more discrete “yes” from Cuca took place moments before letting Baptist go after last week’s defeat against Jorge Wilstermann. Cuca’s new contract follows the same framework as last year’s, with duration end of 2018.
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Baptista was in a tight spot from day one, and he knew it. After the successful 2016 campaign, culminating in the first Brasileirão league title in 22 years, Palmeiras did everything to keep Cuca, but the coach had promised his family a six months sabbatical. Baptista was probably not Palmeiras idea of an ideal replacement, but options at the time were scarce. Had the young and upcoming coach presented steady progression regarding the squad’s playing style, attitude and overall performance, he could have outshined the towering shadow of Cuca’s return to coaching. Could have.

Cuca knows the squad well, knows Galiotte and Mattos, knows Palmeiras. He understands the overwhelming pressure – internal and external – that comes with the job. Hopefully he will need little time to tweak at least the basics into place, before starting working on the extras. “Changing the tire with the car in motion” as one says in Brazil. Yesterday afternoon he conducted his first training session with the squad. The 2017 Brasileirão debut, against Vasco da Gama, is on Sunday.
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During yesterday’s press conference, Cuca was an island of serenity and focus. Never dodging responsibility, he stressed that Palmeiras’ considerable investments were no guarantee, that every other team were also doing their best to become champion. He explained that last year, he needed to say “Palmeiras will win this year’s Brazilian championship” in order to bring the squad together after an early exit from the Libertadores Cup. It worked. This year, he said, the situation is different: Palmeiras are the current champions, everyone expects great things and the pressure is on. “No one has the obligation to become champion, but we will do our outmost”, he concluded.

Should Cuca succeed in implementing something similar to what he had last year, the sheer quality and size of Palmeiras’ squad will transform this “outmost” into one or several championship titles – a probability further enhanced if one or both of the reinforcements suggested/requested by Cuca arrive.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Nine minutes after the publication of the previous post, Palmeiras announced the exit of Eduardo Baptista. Club president Maurício Galiotte will meet the press tomorrow morning. Baptista led Palmeiras in 23 games harvesting 14 victories, 4 draws and 5 defeats.

Needless to say, Cuca is the replacement of choice. Expect a speedy negotiation: Palmeiras have no time to lose considering the significant player investments done this season and upcoming decisive games.

Baptista deserves all our respect. Unfortunately, it did not work out this time. Anything Palmeiras wishes Baptista the best of luck in hist future career.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

The task of defending Palmeiras’ coach Eduardo Baptista gets harder by the day. Certainly hardworking, studious, passionate about his craft, but not much of that seems to colour the squad. Our players are underperforming badly, same players that a few months’ back were peaking. No defined playing style can be detected. We have lost superiority in the air, both offensively and defensively. Baptista himself makes odd choices, leaving supporters grinding their teeth in frustration. Also very worrying is that he seems unable to motivate: under Cuca, players came on hungry and 49% of Palmeiras’ goals were scored during the first half; under Baptista, only 20% in the first half, with players instead having to chase that draw or winner in the dying minutes of the game. Bottom line, we are yet to see a couple of solid games from start to finish. And mind you, it has been four months since Baptista took office.

Yesterday’s defeat to the Bolivians might have been a turning point. Palmeiras needed but a draw to secure advancement to the knockout stage and finish in pole position. The pitch was bumpy and hard, the altitude played tricks on our players. Nevertheless, Jorge Wilstermann are a limited side and nothing yesterday justified defeat, except for Palmeiras’ stale performance. Instead of going through to the next stage, Palmeiras now face the risk of missing the spot: all it takes is a bad defeat against Atlético Tucumán in the last round, while JW beat Peñarol.
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In spite of all this, Baptista’s boat would not rock much were it not for rumours Cuca could be in Palmeiras’ sights. If club and Cuca come to an agreement, things might happen very fast in order to take full advantage of the ten days at disposal before Palmeiras’ next marathon of important games: 14 May Brazilian championship debut against Vasco da Gama; 17 May Brazil cup debut against Internacional; 20 May second round of the Brazilian championship against Chapecoense; 24 May Atlético Tucumán to secure continuation in the Libertadores Cup.

What do I think?

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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