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Hours ago, defensive midfielder Bruno Henrique Corsini on social media announced his transfer to Palmeiras.

“Yo, palmeirenses, what’s up? I’m arriving to be champion with you. I’m very happy for this”, Bruno Henrique says in a short video clip, before signing off with a “Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra. Avanti Palestra!”. The four-year contract with Palmeiras comes at a €3.5 million price tag.

bruno_henrique_corsiniBruno Henrique has dual citizenship: Brazilian and Italian. In 2016, he transferred to Italian side Palermo after having participated in Corinthians’ victorious 2015 Brasileirão campaign. A regular for the Sicilian team, he made 33 appearances last season, scoring one goal.

At Palmeiras, the 27-year-old will face competition primarily from Felipe Melo, Thiago Santos and Tchê Tchê. His arrival is well timed: Melo yesterday underwent hand surgery and is out for 2-4 weeks, Tchê Tchê is currently far from last year’s peak performance and Thiago Santos gets booked frequently.

Welcome (home) and best of luck, Corsini!

 

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A well-conducted transfer if you ever saw one. Yesterday, centre-back Vitor Hugo held his last press conference (for now) at Palmeiras, before moving to Europe and Fiorentina. The Italians had been eying the 26-year-old for some time, but Palmeiras managed to hang on to the player, a central piece of the 2016 champion squad. In total, Vitor Hugo played 131 games for Palmeiras, finding the net 13 times – one short to make the club’s top 10 list for scoring centre-backs.

With the aid of sponsor/partner Crefisa, Vitor Hugo was brought to Palmeiras from second division side América Mineiro in 2015 for €1.5 million for 50% of his economic rights. Now sold to Fiorentina for €8 million, Crefisa recovers the initial €1.5 million, with the remaining being split between Palmeiras and other stakeholders – a neat little revenue indeed.

Crefisa actually chose not to cash in, but to redeploy the €1.5 million into the acquisition of promising 22-year-old centre-back Juninho, from Coritiba. Prior to Juninho, Crefisa also helped in the acquisition of Luan, the 24-year-old Olympic gold medallist, previously at Vasco da Gama. Palmeiras’ medium to long-term planning is clear: Vitor Hugo just left, Edu Dracena might retire in a year or two and Yerry Mina will move to Europe after the 2018 World Cup. In their place, we have Antônio Carlos (24), Thiago Martins (22), Luan (24) and Juninho (22).

Anything Palmeiras wishes Vitor Hugo the best of luck overseas: this talented, hard-working and charismatic lad deserves it like few others!

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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With five rounds of the Brasileirão, Palmeiras have already filled half of last year’s quota of defeats. Hovering just above the relegation zone with four points – a full nine points behind the leader – some palmeirenses are already throwing the towel. Might seem absurd, considering only 13% of the championship has been played, but indeed a recovery must come strong and immediately should Palmeiras stand a chance. Not much hope in that direction though, rather on the contrary: Cuca is using the Brasileirão to try out formation and rotate the numerous squad, certainly with the chancellery of the club’s directors. The priority seems to be the Brazil Cup and the Libertadores Cup.

Under normal circumstances, nothing would justify abandoning the Brasileirão this early. Nevertheless, swapping Baptista for Cuca, combined with a full two-games-a-week schedule – including decisive games in both aforementioned cups – have created serious restrains on Cuca’s possibilities to train and shape the squad to his liking. Libertadores enters the knockout stage in a months’ time, so Cuca uses the Brasileirão as his laboratory.

Against Coritiba, Cuca again presented a mixed bag due to injuries, fatigue and national squad absentees. Only four regular starting-eleven players in the line-up: Prass, Tchê, Felipe Melo and Willian. Nevertheless Palmeiras came out flying, the first ten minutes looking very promising, with Keno again drawing most of the attention. The game however quickly levelled, with all he action concentrating to the midfield.

Early in the second half, Coritiba found the net and Palmeiras suddenly lost all confidence and initiative, the level dropping vertically both collectively and individually. Tchê Tchê has not played well for weeks, but yesterday was exceptionally bad even by his recent standards. Michel Bastos, Keno, Guedes… No shimmer of light anywhere. And Fernando Prass… Perhaps a few games on the bench would do him good, letting Jailson have a go between the posts.
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Cuca is not being eaten alive exactly because he is Cuca and has plenty of credit due to last year’s campaign. Most supporters feel confident he will get it right in the end, but for that to happen he must react, rattle the squad into position, find ways to extract quality from all those good to excellent players. He has a few weeks before things get really serious.

Players taking flak, Cuca taking flak. But not only these. Increasingly, Palmeiras football director Alexandro Mattos is feeling the heat. Elected four years in a row Brazil’s most successful football director will not guarantee you anything, especially not at Palmeiras: the seedy and influential consiglieri – kept low during the Paulo Nobre years – have reflourished with surprising vigour. Mattos’ success stings in the eyes of those who used to call the cards at Palmeiras at the beginning of the decade. With meritocracy being challenged, we are one step closer to the pre-Nobre abyss. Add to that the now constant leaking of inside information to the press and the dramatic increase of hang-arounds, and you perceive some fundamentally important things have changed.  

There is this Brazilian expression, “I was happy but didn’t know it”. Some of us knew. Some of us recognized the enormous effort and saw the bigger picture in what Nobre was implementing. Let us hope it did not stop there.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Conmebol’s Disciplinary Committee has made public its ruling on the scandalous events following the Peñarol vs Palmeiras Libertadores Cup game. As previously reported, Felipe Melo received a six-game ban, while three Peñarol players received five games each. In addition, Peñarol must play their last home game before an empty stadium: a slap with a silk glove, as the Uruguayans are already eliminated from the tournament. Palmeiras on the other hand was sentenced to three away games without supporters, meaning that only in the case of advancing to the finals, palmeirenses will be present.

Palmeiras promptly issued a formal statement, which you find below, in a free translation.

“In view of the disclosure of Conmebol’s ruling on the incidents related to the match against Peñarol, the Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras hereby announce that:

1 – The feeling is one of total indignation and revolt for the lack of criteria in Conmebol´s application of penalties for the two clubs and their athletes.

2 – It is on the verge of mockery that Peñarol, the club responsible for the safety of the match and the one who did not fulfill its function, receives a penalty lower than that of Palmeiras. Palmeiras, both team and supporters, being the victim of an evident ambush, in addition to other crimes. It is worth remembering that, in spite of the tense atmosphere during the first leg against Peñarol, safety at the Allianz Parque was guaranteed by nearly 600 professionals, able to avoid any kind of incident. This contrasts to the tiny and unprepared group of 60 private security guards hired by the Uruguayan club for the second leg.

3 – The Conmebol Disciplinary Committee has short-sightedly preferred to base its evaluation on the consequences and not on the causes of events.

4 – Palmeiras reiterates what the club has sustained from the first moment, at the stadium in Montevideo: the club and its players were victims and not causers of the incidents after the game. We proved to Conmebol, through a vast selection of videos, photos and testimonies, what really happened in that game. By the outcome of the ruling, it seems technical criteria were not taken into account, which is completely inadmissible and inconsistent. It is unacceptable that a Palmeiras athlete be punished for defending himself against a clear attempt of aggression and that supporters – clearly cornered, attacked and the target of racist manifestations – are now prevented from following the team through the competition.

5 – Palmeiras’ Legal Department is preparing an appeal, contesting the penalties applied to player Felipe Melo and the club. The appeal will be brought before the Conmebol in the coming week.

6 – The Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras will seek justice. The club does not accept any other position of Conmebol’s Disciplinary Committee but a revision of its decision and a ruling solely based on technical criteria.”

Needless to say, supporters are wholeheartedly behind the club on this one. Many hold the opinion Palmeiras must withdraw from the tournament should Conmebol maintain its ruling.

For Palmeiras’ upcoming last game in the group stage on Wednesday, at home against Atlético Tucumán, a silent protest against Conmebol is planned. During the National Hymn, supporters on the stands will raise their arms towards the sky in the same manner Felipe Melo did after the final whistle against Peñarol. In the same manner he does after almost every game. In the same manner now labelled “a provocative gesture” by the referees and Conmebol, a gesture they argue sparked the violence.

Anything Palmeiras strongly urge everyone to adhere to the protest on Wednesday.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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Shoulder to shoulder, back to back. That’s how Palmeiras’ troop of security paved its way through the crowds to brake the hinges of the locked gate hindering our players to exit the feverishly hostile Campeón del Siglo stadium after the game against Peñarol. 

Their decisive action possibly saved lives. In recognition of their crucial intervention, Palmeiras president Mauricio Galiotte last Sunday, during the halftime break against Vasco, pinned a medal to the chest of each of the 20.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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vitor-hugo-palmeirasPalmeiras supporters are likely to have seen the last of Vitor Hugo. Coach Cuca today confirmed the centre-defender is heading for Fiorentina, in return for € 8 million. Out of these, € 4.5 million go to Palmeiras, who in turn will pass on € 1.75 million to Crefisa – the amount corresponds to what the sponsor paid for the athlete in 2015. Thus, Palmeiras’ net revenue are € 2.75 million. The remaining € 3.5 million belong to Tombense, the other holder of the player’s economic rights.

The European transfer windows only opens in June, but Vitor Hugo is likely to be released from his obligations as of now. For Palmeiras, he played a total of 131 games, scoring 13 goals. Anything Palmeiras wishes the humble, charismatic, talented and hard-working 25-year-old the best of luck on his new endeavour. Avanti, Vitor Hugo!

As an immediate response to Vitor Hugo’s exit, Palmeiras are set to sign Juninho, a left-footed 22-year-old currently at Coritiba. The youngster is expected in São Paulo tomorrow Saturday to undergo medical and sign the contract, price tag locked at € 3 million. I have a good feeling about this one.

Speaking of Coritiba: the club from Paraná yesterday confirmed the signing of Alecsandro, beating Bahia for the contract. Palmeiras will continue to pay the forward’s salaries throughout the year in an arrangement reached to settle an unresolved balance linked to Raphael Veiga’s transfer to Palmeiras earlier this year. The experience 36-year-old leaves through the front door after 62 games for the Verdão.

Another forward expected to leave any day is Rafael Marques: seasoned, still hungry, but with oh so little space in Palmeiras’ numerous squad. Cruzeiro is a possible destination, with a player from “the Fox” likely to be involved in a swap.

Finally, a piece of news we nourished hopes not having to declare, but was confirmed tonight: the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) sentenced Felipe Melo to six games of suspension for throwing a punch while chased by numerous Peñarol players after the final whistle in Montevideo late April (recap here and here). The original three Uruguayan aggressors received five games each. The Peñarol player caught on tape knocking Willian down seconds before the final whistle goes unpunished. It is a disgrace, it is a scandal, it is CONMEBOL in a nutshell. Palmeiras have already challenged the sentence, seeking it reduced to the minimum three games of suspension. Good luck with that.

In weeks, CONMEBOL will also rule on the responsibility of each team for what happened in Uruguay. Nothing good can come out of this. At Anything Palmeiras, we stand our ground: should CONMEBOL slap a significant punishment on Palmeiras for being ambushed at the Campeón del Siglo, Palmeiras should walk out on the tournament altogether.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Comeback Cuca

Yesterday, Palmeiras president Maurício Galiotte met the press, with Cuca on his left, announcing Eduardo Baptista’s replacement. From Palmeiras, certainly a discrete probing and an even more discrete “yes” from Cuca took place moments before letting Baptist go after last week’s defeat against Jorge Wilstermann. Cuca’s new contract follows the same framework as last year’s, with duration end of 2018.
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Baptista was in a tight spot from day one, and he knew it. After the successful 2016 campaign, culminating in the first Brasileirão league title in 22 years, Palmeiras did everything to keep Cuca, but the coach had promised his family a six months sabbatical. Baptista was probably not Palmeiras idea of an ideal replacement, but options at the time were scarce. Had the young and upcoming coach presented steady progression regarding the squad’s playing style, attitude and overall performance, he could have outshined the towering shadow of Cuca’s return to coaching. Could have.

Cuca knows the squad well, knows Galiotte and Mattos, knows Palmeiras. He understands the overwhelming pressure – internal and external – that comes with the job. Hopefully he will need little time to tweak at least the basics into place, before starting working on the extras. “Changing the tire with the car in motion” as one says in Brazil. Yesterday afternoon he conducted his first training session with the squad. The 2017 Brasileirão debut, against Vasco da Gama, is on Sunday.
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During yesterday’s press conference, Cuca was an island of serenity and focus. Never dodging responsibility, he stressed that Palmeiras’ considerable investments were no guarantee, that every other team were also doing their best to become champion. He explained that last year, he needed to say “Palmeiras will win this year’s Brazilian championship” in order to bring the squad together after an early exit from the Libertadores Cup. It worked. This year, he said, the situation is different: Palmeiras are the current champions, everyone expects great things and the pressure is on. “No one has the obligation to become champion, but we will do our outmost”, he concluded.

Should Cuca succeed in implementing something similar to what he had last year, the sheer quality and size of Palmeiras’ squad will transform this “outmost” into one or several championship titles – a probability further enhanced if one or both of the reinforcements suggested/requested by Cuca arrive.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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