Ricardo Gareca is training the squad in Atibaia, interior of São Paulo. Defensive midfielder Marcelo Oliveira describes him as a hands-on and hard-working coach, who speaks a lot to the players and pays a lot of attention to the defence. “He wants the defensive line aggressive and compact”, Marcelo says. “When putting pressure on an attacking opponent, he want us all going as one, and in proximity, with no more than five meters between centre backs”, he concludes.
Gareca might be concerned with defence, but not only: in a friendly against Barueri earlier this week, Palmeiras won 6-0, with unlikely Felipe Menezes scoring three goals. A good coaches has the ability to bring the best out of players. If this is a first taste of what’s to come, we’re in for a treat.
Thursday afternoon Palmeiras announced the first reinforcement post-Gareca: 24-year-old Argentine centre-back Fernando Tobio. Gareca’s protégé at Velez, the 186 cm tall defender has signed a five-year contract and is already in Atibaia with the rest of the squad. “This is a moment for which I’ve been waiting a long time”, a visibly pleased Fernando told journalists.
Yet another hermano joined the squad yesterday: 26-year-old striker Pablo Mouche. Palmeiras, with the aid of investors, brought the former Boca Juniors player from Turkish club Kayserispor for US$ 4 million. The player, with experience from Argentina’s U20 and National squad, has also signed a five year contract and becomes Palmeiras sixth foreigner in the squad, joining fellow countryman Tobio, Victorino and Eguren (both from Uruguay) Valdivia (Chile) and Mendieta (Paraguay).
Players leaving can also be good news. Finally, Palmeiras got rid of Luis Felipe, the right-wing defender with good technique but lacking morals. He was sold to a group of investors for US$ 1,3 million, destined to pass him on to Benfica of Portugal.
Solve one problem, just to have another show its ugly head. Defensive midfielder França was supposed to play for Figueirense until the end of the year, but last Wednesday he flipped his car over when returning home from a party. The following day he did some other, non-disclosed but certainly stupid shit, because Figueirense dismissed him without further ado. What Palmeiras will do with him now is anybody’s guess. A first step could perhaps include a detox clinic.
Twelve hours to kickoff. Brazil will stop once again as the national squad face the Chileans (with Valdivia) for the first game of the 2014 World Cup knockout phase. The winner take on either Colombia or Uruguay in the quarter-finals.
So… Avanti Brasil!