The 2021 season started for Palmeiras before the last game of the 2020 season. This forces Palmeiras to treat the Paulistão as a pre-season tournament, using the opportunity to give some players a well-deserved rest while giving prospects from the youth categories a chance to impress.
Following the title of the Brazil Cup against Grêmio, Palmeiras divided the squad into three groups. Group A (coach Abel Ferreira, Weverton, Marcos Rocha, Luan, Gustavo Gómez, Viña, Felipe Melo, Raphael Veiga, Rony, Luiz Adriano, Willian and Zé Rafael) hit their vacation on 8 March and return on the 19th. Group B (Jailson, Mayke, Emerson Santos, Kuscevic, Alan Empereur, Gustavo Scarpa and Breno Lopes) rest from 21 March to 1 April. Finally, Group C, with the remainder of the squad, continue training and playing, without vacation.
The three games Palmeiras have played so far in the 2020 São Paulo state Championship saw a team composed mainly of reserves, but this has not stopped the good results from coming. The debut against Corinthians resulted in a 2-2 draw, followed by two victories at the Allianz Parque: 3-0 against São Caetano and 2-0 against Ferroviária.
While the official talk is that Palmeiras are focused on harnessing the youth categories to supply the main team, the executives are also active on the transfer market, but until now, there have been no signings. Borré, centre forward from River Plate, and Danilo Barbosa, midfielder from Nice, are deals the press speculate are close to conclusion, but Palmeiras keep shut as a clam.
If 2020 was already a convoluted year, 2021 is set to crank things up even further. The games for the South Americana Recopa and the Brazil Recopa populate an already crowded calendar. Then there’s the Copa America in the middle of the year, with Weverton, Menino, Viña and Gustavo Gómez very likely called up to their respective National Teams. Rest assured the Brazilian Football Federation will completely ignore the international tournament, meaning the Brazilian Leage will carry on as normal.
In Brazil, the pandemic is hitting hard, again. The São Paulo government a few days back issued a decree, prohibitig play during 15 days, but the State Football Federation and clubs decided the calendar can’t be postponed; they are seeking to negotiate the terms, or, we kid you not, take the games to another state.
Nobody knows what the future holds. Brace yourselves for another crazy year. Stay safe, amigos.
Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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by Augusto Anteghini Oazi & Kristian Bengtson
* Here at Anything Palmeiras, we love football. We love Palmeiras. We are always keen to see Palmeiras play, and keen to write about it for you. But we’re against the return of football in a country that still hasn’t controlled the coronavirus pandemic. We express our deepest sympathy to the families whose loved ones have been taken by the disease.
** Featured image by Cesar Greco