How define Marcos Assunção?
The question is more valid than ever after yesterday’s performance by “Assunshow”, as some choose to call the 35-year-old midfielder. Assunção’s two, masterly executed free kicks in the opening and closing minutes of the game against Mogi Mirim brought the three points home and were absolute highlights in an otherwise frustrating display à la 2011: few chances created, Valdivia without much to dialogue with, a lot of running but little display of skill from the flanks, static and conservative coaching.
Assunção is sometimes described as Palmeiras’ only efficient weapon. And as of late, I’d say rightly so: he’s directly or indirectly involved in an absurdly high percentage of Palmeiras’ goals. Many would say that without Assunção on the pitch, Palmeiras would lose most of the team’s offensive qualities. The set piece specialist has not only become the reference in Palmeiras’ attack: he’s become indispensable. He’s the crutch that keeps Palmeiras standing.
Relying on one single player is always dangerous. But with Assunção we might have to twist it just a little further: what if his presence actually harms the development of optional schemes, tactics and skills? What if he fuels and breeds off his success in a manner which will make him increasingly indispensable exactly due to the fact that nothing else is allowed to grow in the shadow of his excellence? What if Assunção is not what keeps Palmeiras standing, but what hinders Palmeiras from developing more speed, agility and tactical/technical skill?
These things are for Scolari to find out; Assunção should just keep on doing what he does with extreme competence, dedication and respect: train, play and exercise his leadership. Now, Scolari has not shown much tendencies to think out of the box lately, which is worrisome. You need a strong and free mind, paired with a lot of courage, if you intend to define one of the world’s finest free kick specialists as both a blessing and a curse. If that’s the case, that is. Who am I to say? My humble opinion would rather be that a balanced squad and a good coach should suffice for finding ways to overcome any negative consequences resulting from having Assunção on the pitch. In my view, his offensive qualities overtake his shortcomings by a wide margin.
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After tomorrow afternoon’s training session, right-winger Artur will be officially presented. The 27-year-old will use number 14 on his back and comes as a loan (with a buying option) until the end of the year.
Argentinean striker Barcos will hopefully also be presented on Friday, but there’s still some issues with the papers and perhaps his much awaited debut won’t happen against Santos on Sunday. Anyway, Barcos will use number 29, at least for now. Let’s see how long Ricardo Bueno is able to hold on to that 9…
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One last piece of information: Bulgarian newspapers are confirming that CSKA Sofia have terminated the contract of former Real Madrid defender Carlos Diogo only 15 days after the Uruguayan international agreed a deal until the end of the season with the 31-times national champions. Diogo has apparently told CSKA he wanted to continue his career in Brazil. CSKA’s chief executive Zhivkov told reporters he sees no reason to keep 28-year-old Diogo, who was a regular starter at La Liga team Real Zaragoza last season, against his wish. And what more: rumours place him at Palmeiras. Really? Stay tuned for further developments!