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Unusual in Brazilian football, and certainly for Palmeiras, the club recently saw two of their players suspended on doping charges: seasoned forward Alecsandro and midfielder Arouca.

622_269bb3e3-71bd-341a-a34d-ef7d65aaab0cThe scenario looked particularly bad for Alecsandro, tested positive twice and slapped with a two-year ban by the São Paulo Tribunal of Sports, practically ending the career of the 35-year-old. However, in a surprising turn of events, the international doping agency Wada informed the Brazilians that the second test was, in fact, a false positive.  In other words: no confirmation of illegal substance detected. With that, he was immediately cleared for training and play at Palmeiras.

As for Arouca, the club’s lawyers are confident he will also be cleared. Although an illegal substance was indeed detected in the athlete’s urine sample, it is the result of an intra-articular procedure, approved by Wada, whereby a certain drug is applied directly to an injured joint in order to lessen an inflammatory process. Due to this, although Arouca is awaiting trial, he is free to play for Palmeiras until further notice.

The World Cup qualifiers continue to take their toll on Palmeiras. Gabriel Jesus has been called up for Brazil’s home game against Bolivia on 6 October and for the away game against Venezuela on the 11th. In addition, Lucas Barrios has been summoned for Paraguay’s games against Colombia and Argentina. The offensive duo will miss two games in the Brazilian championship: against América Mineiro away on 9 October and against Cruzeiro at home on the 12th. In addition, there is a considerable risk/chance Yerry Mina will be called up by Pékerman for Colombia’s clashes with Uruguay and, as mentioned above, Paraguay. In the light of the above, Palmeiras are likely to request the game against Cruzeiro be transferred to the 13th, in order to have the two/three players back and in playing condition. Stay tuned.

gabriel_1191zh9i8iq9e1me42945gns1rDefensive midfielder Gabriel and Palmeiras seem close to sign a new, five-year agreement. The player is on a two-year loan from Monte Azul and was a pillar in Palmeiras’ defence throughout most of last year, until a severe knee injury took him out. Only recently has Gabriel showed he is returning to good old form. In order to secure the player’s economic rights, Palmeiras will reportedly pay approximately US$ 1.6 million.

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Saturday last week, Palmeiras went to the Itaqueirão to beat Corinthians 2-0, goals by Moisés and Yerry Mina. That ended Corinthians’ streak of 34 games undefeated at home. Palmeiras keep the lead in the Brasileirão, with Flamengo one point behind. Palmeiras’ next victim, Coritiba, Saturday, at the Allianz Parque.

Yesterday, Palmeiras secured their spot in the Brazil Cup quarterfinals after an uninspiring game against Botafogo/PB. As the first leg ended 3-0 in Verdão‘s favour, Cuca opted for resting all regular starting eleven players except Zé Roberto in this second leg, and the odd goal defeat was fair enough. Tomorrow Friday, the draw to define Palmeiras’ next opponent: Corinthians, Santos, Grêmio, Cruzeiro, Atlético Mineiro, Internacional/Fortaleza and São Paulo/Juventus are the contenders.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

20 September is Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras’ second birthday. On the day, in 1942, the club died a leader to reborn a champion. Read more about it here.
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In the picture, centre-back Vítor Hugo, suspended, virtually embraces his teammates after Saturday’s 0-2 victory against Corinthians.

“A união faz a força”. Strength through unity.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

We hit the big 100 while enjoying an overseas vacation, with less time and opportunity to closely follow Palmeiras. That means less individual game reporting, but certainly a weekly compilation of news, your well-known “sonar pings”.

Since last time, Palmeiras played Grêmio away and Flamengo at home, both games ending in draws. Playing the gaúchos away is always hard and this time was no exception, even with the Porto Alegre team free falling. Considering what the two brought to the pitch, the draw should be considered a good result. In addition, no Palmeiras player saw the third yellow, meaning full strength at Cuca’s disposal against runners-up Flamengo previous Wednesday – by many (incorrectly) considered a decisive game, the game to define the championship. With 13 rounds to go, only a few points separating Palmeiras and Flamengo and several other major clubs fighting for title and/or a Libertadores spot, anything is possible, regardless of how last Wednesday did or did not play out.

The Allianz Parque was not packed against the cariocas, as the Supreme Tribunal of Sports have slapped a penalty on Palmeiras for the clash between Flamengo and Palmeiras ultras in Brasilia earlier this year: 5 home games with the North Sector empty (the most popular prized sector, and where Palmeiras’ organised supporters traditionally attend the games) and five away games without any ticket rights. Never mind Flamengo, as home team, were responsible for security at the Mané Garrincha stadium in Brasilia. Never mind there are uncertainties regarding how the fighting started. True, Flamengo were also punished, but not as severely.
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The game itself was a tense affair. Apart from the initial 15 minutes, Palmeiras had the upper hand, creating more chances, especially after the sending off of Márcio Araújo. Even so, lack of attention permitted Flamengo to open up the scorecard, the Lex Ex again taking its toll after a well-placed shot by former Palmeiras player Alan Patrick. Coach Cuca acted rapidly, promoting Barrios and Marques on Gabriel and Guedes, and later Cleiton Xavier on Tchê. The all-or-nothing approach resulted in tremendous pressure and with ten minutes left, Gabriel Jesus scored the equaliser. Palmeiras looked set on turning things around, but the sand ended up running a bit too fast through the hourglass.

The result maintains Palmeiras in the lead, one point ahead of Flamengo. Yesterday, the 25th round was completed as third-placed Atlético Mineiro beat Sport to close in on the leader, now only three point ahead. Palmeiras’ much superior goal balance could prove decisive (knock on wood: we need no heart attack scenarios).

Palmeiras have withdrawn to the training grounds in Atibaia, all focus on Saturday’s derby against Corinthians. Cuca has already signalled Edu Dracena as Vítor Hugo’s replacement, the centre back suspended after receiving his third yellow against Flamengo. Also Gabriel Jesus saw his third yellow, but Cuca has not yet indicated his preference, likely keeping it a secret until the last minute. My guess is we will have Erik back in the starting eleven.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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A classico is always a classico and results are unpredictable, no matter what shape the teams are found in at the moment of the clash. Some were hoping for a slaughter yesterday, but the most important thing were the three points, securely tucked away after an awesome display of airborne offensive firepower from our centre-backs Yerry Mina and Vítor Hugo – in their homage, the A10 “Warthog” illustration above, signed Mark Karvon.

Allianz Parque yesterday sported the second best attendance record of all times, just shy of the 40K mark. In an effort to spare Gabriel Jesus, the kid having played the lion’s share of Brazil’s World Cup qualifier against Colombia less than 24 hours previous to the Palmeiras game, coach Cuca opted for Allione on the right and Rafael Marques on the left, Dudu more centralised. Moisés was back in the starting eleven, which is impressive: during the week he did not train with the squad, only doing recovery exercises for the ankle strain he suffered against Botafogo/PB.

São Paulo were, as expected, cornered from kick-off to final whistle. Still, although Palmeiras were in control, the first half did not offer up many opportunities, partially due to São Paulo shrinking the spaces, partially due to uninspiring performances from Rafael Marques and, especially Allione. The Argentine forward has been given plenty of opportunities, but he just never ever… I believe yesterday was “it”, that we will not see more of him in a while, if ever.

Instead of Palmeiras, it was São Paulo getting that lucky break they were hoping for, opening up the scorecard early in the second half. Cuca, frustrated, swapped Allione for Gabriel Jesus, and things started to flow, Palmeiras inching closer to the goal by every attack. And although Dudu, Moisés and Tchê Tchê all had their opportunities, it was the set pieces that made all the difference. Enjoy the highlights below.
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Jean and Mina saw their third yellow and are not travelling to Porto Alegre to face Grêmio. The gaúchos a few weeks back seemed very much in the title race, but have not impressed anyone in the last rounds and are now 10 points behind Palmeiras. Yesterday, Grêmio visited Coritiba and were losing 4-0 already in halftime. Palmeiras will certainly try to take advantage of the situation, returning from the south with three points in the bag.

Apart from finding suitable replacements for Jean and Mina, Cuca needs to imprint players with the importance of staying cool and making the outmost effort to avoid bookings against Grêmio. Palmeiras cannot risk facing runners-up Flamengo without key players, and that certainly includes Gabriel Jesus. Will he escape the trap on Sunday? The championship could depend on it.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Dear readers,

Anything Palmeiras is once again a nominee in the “Football Blogging Awards”, an initiative created in England, in 2012, designed to recognise and award the best of football blogging. The awards are decided in two different ways, by the public and through a judges’ panel. There are several categories, Anything Palmeiras this year running in the “Best International Football Blog”. In 2012, Anything Palmeiras was crowned the “Best Football Club Specific Blog”, thanks to the votes of palmeirenses near and far.
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This year, I am again counting on YOUR vote to promote Anything Palmeiras and help spread Palmeiras’ name across the globe.

There are two ways to cast your vote: using twitter and directly on the FBA website. Instructions below.

On the FBA website
1) Visit the FBA voting page, clicking here (page will open in new window)
2) provide your name and e-mail address

3) scroll down to the “Best International Football Blog” category and enter “Anything Palmeiras” (without the quotation marks) and click the “Vote Now” button

Twitter
Post the following: I am voting in @TheFBAs for @AnyPalmeiras as the Best #International Football Blog

Please note, only one vote on twitter and one on the website allowed per person. Please also note that twitter RTs do NOT count as votes.

Voting is divided into two stages, the first ending 26 September. Top five blogs in each category go to the final voting stage.

Thank you for your support!

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Jackpot for Jesus

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Yesterday, Palmeiras 19-year-old forward Gabriel Jesus made his debut in the Seleção, having being called up for the World Cup qualifier away to Ecuador. With confidence soaring, fresh from winning a gold medal with his country at the Olympics a couple of weeks back, Gabriel was fundamentally important in securing Brazil’s first qualifier victory in Ecuador in 33 years: he suffered the penalty that Neymar converted to open up the scorecard, then declared the final result by scoring two spectacular goals himself – a clever flick and a shot on the turn.

Below, enjoy a selection of articles from the international press and the goals.

The Daily Mail

The Mirror

ESPN

Goal.com
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Palmeiras’ debut in the Brazil Cup also marked the debut of the new third jersey, a homage to Fernando Prass and the jersey our keeper wore when Palmeiras bagged last year’s Cup title against Santos. 

Not by accident, third division Botafogo/PB have reached the quarterfinals of this year’s edition of the  Cup: they are tactically obedient, have a well-designed gameplan – based on strong, individual marking and rapid counter-attacks – and a dedicated squad. It took a while for Palmeiras to adjust, the first half being a level affair, the Verdão with more possession but unable to create any real scoring opportunities. In fact, had Botafogo’s forwards been a tad more efficient, Palmeiras would have gone inte halftime behind on the scoresheet.

Things changed rapidly in the second half: Cuca clearly told his players to start challenging more, to use their individual skill in one-on-one situations. He also promoted Allione on Cleiton Xavier, increasing intensity and speed to Palmeiras’ offense. With Tchê Tchê also venturing a bit higher up on the pitch, Palmeiras suddenly were in complete control, coming in wave after wave. At 10 minutes, Rafael Marques was clipped on the verge of the penalty area and Jean converted. Shortly after, same Marques received from Erik, dribbled and securely stuffed the net, becoming top goal scorer (11) at the Allianz Parque alongside Cristaldo.

As predicted, the Botafogo players got increasingly tired and the third brace game naturally: great interaction between Dudu and Allione, who served Tchê Tchê, coming from behind, turning both once and twice before placing the ball behind the Botafogo keeper. Tchê’s first brace in the Palmeiras jersey that was, much awaited. The 24.500 strong crowd certainly left the Allianz Parque confident for the second leg, scheduled three weeks from now.
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Palmeiras now have a week of training before facing São Paulo in the 23rd round of the Brasileirão. Only concern is Moisés, who felt his ankle yesterday and had to be replaced by Gabriel already in the first half.

Well, there is also that collection of yellow cards hovering above everybody’s heads…

Ah yes, and today’s ruling in the Supreme Tribunal of Sports…

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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