As this year’s edition of the São Paulo state championship took off last weekend, Palmeiras were still adding pieces to the squad puzzle. Probably the last player to arrive, at least before the Brasileirão, former Santos keeper of choice Aranha (spider) joined the squad after having signed a one-year agreement with the Verdão.
Aranha is no doubt a good keeper and should give Fernando Prass healthy competition for a spot in the starting eleven. His arrival was celebrated by many, while others consider him a bit too old: at 34, will he be content with warming the bench? Wouldn’t grooming a younger keeper be a better option for when Prass, now 36, retires in a few years’ time? These are valid points, but personally, I believe Prass and Aranha will bring out the best in each other, and for a few good years still (that is, if their contracts are renewed).
Palmeiras’ debut in the Paulistão took place at the Allianz Parque last Saturday, against Audax. Palmeiras came in a 4-2-3-1 formation, coach Oswaldo’s favourite as of late, with Fernando Prass; Lucas, Tobio, Vitor Hugo and Zé Roberto; Renato, Gabriel, Allione and Robinho; Maikon Leite and Leandro Pereira in the starting eleven. With 35 minutes on the clock, Palmeiras were already up 3-0 after braces by Leandro, Robinho and Leite. Allione was on fire, dictating the creativeness on the midfield and pleasing the close to 25.000 supporters in the stadium. In the second half, Palmeiras took the foot off the gas, allowing Audax a goal on stoppage time. All in all a good debut, especially considering the absence of quality players like Arouca and Dudu. Highlights below.
Everybody likes a winner, and in this pre-season, Palmeiras are attracting attention. After financial institution Crefisa, Palmeiras last week announced a second sponsorship deal, this time with insurance company Prevent Senior. The company admittedly was negotiating with other clubs, but in the end opted for sealing a deal with Palmeiras worth a little over US$ 2 million, their logo now on the shoulder of the team’s jersey until the end of the year.
Now, perhaps the greatest indicator of the optimism, even enthusiasm, currently surrounding Palmeiras is the spectacular growth of Palmeiras’ supporter membership programme Avanti. With 25.000 new members and counting in 2015, the Avanti reached 80K members ten days ago, overtaking Grêmio as the second largest in Brazil. Yesterday, the 90K mark was reached. If the pace is maintained, within two weeks Palmeiras enter the World Top 10 ranking, overtaking Manchester United’s programme currently sporting some 100K members.
Tomorrow Thursday, Palmeiras welcome Ponte Preta at the Allianz Parque for the second round of the Paulistão. Some 15.000 tickets have already been sold, in spite of these being far too expensive. This will be the topic of a future post.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!