Archive for the ‘Friendly games’ Category

Saturday marked the return of Chapecoense. All revenues from the friendly against Palmeiras were destined to the Santa Catarina club and the victim’s families. The pre-game ceremony was very emotional, with the three surviving players and representatives from the families receiving the South America Cup trophy and medals. As Palmeiras’ defensive midfielder Felipe Melo put it: I arrived here prepared for a game of football, but after seeing two children crying, my emotional readiness was all gone. I cried myself, at several moments during the game.
Palmeiras and Chapecoense have created quite the bond. On several occasions, Chape directors have stated that although many clubs promised many a thing right after the tragic plane crash, intentions rapidly vanished, Palmeiras being one of the few exceptions. In addition to the friendly game, three Palmeiras players are on loan to Chape, Palmeiras paying 80% of these player’s salaries throughout the year. Palmeiras have also put their legal department at Chape’s disposal, as well as offered to share know-how related to stadium management.

This being pre-season, and with all the added commotion due to the unique nature of the friendly, I limit game-related comments to a couple of observations: young gun Vitinho certainly made an impression on coach Baptista, with dribbles, passes and the beautiful goal that closed the scorecard at 2-0; word is the European market is already watching him closely. Also Raphael Veiga showed quality on the midfield, in addition to scoring Palmeiras’ first. Picking the 28 that will compose Palmeiras’ São Paulo Cup squad will be quite the challenge.

Upcoming Sunday, a friendly against Ponte Preta, at the Allianz Parque: probably the last one before the Paulistão kicks off on 3 February, the Verdão making their debut against Botafogo-SP on the 5th.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!


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Saturday we got a first glimpse of Palmeiras anno 2015. Although a few pieces were missing on the pitch – most notably Valdivia, Dudu, Kelvin, Robinho and Arouca – what we saw is more than enough to fuel aspirations. With less than two weeks of training, the starting eleven was an interesting combination of youth and routine, players aggressive and on their toes, most of them seemingly at ease and confident. Newcomers Zé Roberto, Amaral, Gabriel, Lucas, Leandro Pereira… They all elevated the quality, individually and collectively. The usual sighs, at least from my part, were directed toward Mendieta and Maikon Leite – two players that have little place in this reformulated squad, if you ask me. Oswaldo de Oliveira’s job to either shut me up or prove me right by giving their transfers the green light.

The game was entertaining and bore little resemblance to a traditional friendly: Palmeiras were pepped, wanting their first victory at the Allianz Parque.  And there it was 3-1, after goals from Leandro Pereira, Lucas and Cristaldo. Highlights below.

In the second half, Oswaldo made eleven substitutions. Well, actually 12: Mouche was injured and carried off after only a few minutes on the pitch. Unfortunately, he tore a ligament in his right knee and will need surgery: he’s only expected back in six month’s time. You will remember Leandro had foot surgery last week. The need for a numerous squad is obvious. Anything Palmeiras wishes Mouche, who already has been receiving a lot of support via social media, a speedy recovery.

Coming Saturday Palmeiras are expected to play one last friendly before the Paulistão kicks off. Opponent to be confirmed.

— ooo —

Mattos isn’t done. Palmeiras have confirmed the signing of 24-year-old centre-back Jackson. He comes as a one-year loan from Internacional of Porto Alegre. From the stands, the defender watched the friendly against Shandong, radiating excitement with the year to come.  

Ryder+Matos+ACF+Fiorentina+v+FC+Dnipro+Dnipropetrovsk+75Gk1zG8gRQlA 16th signing may be announced soon: 21-year-old offensive midfielder/winger Ryder Matos. Originating from Vitória’s youth academy, Matos was picked up by Italian club Fiorentina already at the age of 14 and was envisioned a tremendous career, a “Brazilian Messi” of sorts. Initially corresponding to expectations, years went by and things didn’t quite work out as planned. In 2012-2013, Fiorentina placed Matos at Bahia, where he played in the junior leagues. In 2014 he was back in Europe, this time on loan to Córdoba of Spain. He hardly entered the pitch.  A new one-year loan, now at Palmeiras, seems to be his destiny. The Verdão‘s director of football seems to believe the kid still has a future: the draft contract stipulates the price in case Palmeiras wish to purchase Matos by the end of the year.

— ooo —

Although the words “Master Sponsor” make me nauseous, a deal is apparently close, either with an electronics manufacturer or a national financial institution. “Announcement before the end of the month”, they say. Have we heard that before… Reportedly, the deal corresponds to some 10% of Palmeiras’ total expected revenues in 2015: a rather low percentage due to a) Paulo Nobre having finally understood that in this day and age, few are ready to pump US$ 10 million into a Brazilian football club, and b) the overall increase in expected revenues for Palmeiras this year, mainly boosted by the growth of the Avanti supporter membership programme (more on this later) and increased ticket revenues, making the master sponsor deal comparatively less important.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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A week from now, Saturday 17th, Palmeiras welcome Shandong Luneng Taishan F.C. from China to the Allianz Parque for a friendly game. The event marks Oswaldo de Oliveira’s debut as coach for Palmeiras, and also his first opportunity to test the newly assembled 2015 squad.

Shandong Luneng were founded in 1993 and are based in the capital of Jinan, coastal province of Shandong, eastern China. In the Chinese Super League, where 16 teams battle it out, Shandong finished fourth last season. In spite of its young age, the club has already won the League four times, in addition to winning six different Cup titles. Shandong are currently sponsored by Nike.

The “Orange Fighters”, as Shandong are nicknamed, have a Brazilian coach in former Atlético Mineiro coach Cuca. He runs the show with his technical staff of nine, all of them Brazilian except for three. You will also find Brazilian players in Shandong’s squad, most notably former Palmeiras forward Vágner Love (furthest to the right) Midfielder Júnior Urso and former SPFC forward Aloísio complete the trio. It’s likely that yet another Brazilian will join the squad soon: national squad striker Diego Tardelli, who worked with Cuca at Atlético. A conclusion is expected within days.
In 2013, Shandong signed a “sister club” relationship with São Paulo FC. Shandong have similar relationships with Australian Adelaide United and Japanese Jubilo Iwata.

Before Palmeiras’ debut in the São Paulo Cup on 1 February, one more friendly is expected, on 24 January, opponent to be confirmed.

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11 December 2012. Young and old, men, women and children: some 39.000 of them, all with their eyes fixed upon one man as he walks up onto the grass of the Pacaembu stadium. Applauses and cheers for one of the most respected players in the history of Brazilian football – Marcos Roberto Silveira Reis – the one and only “São Marcos”, or Marcos for short.

This is a farewell. This is a tribute. This is in commemoration of a tremendous athlete and a singular man. Tonight, the stellar Palmeiras squad of 1999 plays the Brazilian National squad of the 2002 World Cup: two squads where Marcos was the uncontested keeper. They have all gatherer to play in his honour. And palmeirenses from all over Brazil have made a pilgrimage to be here, at this moment.

IMG_1420The atmosphere is that of serenity, pride, a fair bit of melancholy but also of celebration. As the spectators slowly fill up the Pacaembu hours before kickoff – briefly stopping outside to admire the green floodlights and tributes to “the Saint” and the immortal #12 displayed on the facade of the stadium – they joyfully make use of balloons and mosaics while singing practically nonstop.

Each player is greeted by the crowds upon entering the pitch: the canarinhos of 2002 with specially invited guest consist of  Dida, Velloso, Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Júnior, Roque Júnior, Edmílson, Antônio Carlos, Belletti, IMG_1433Zé Roberto, Rivaldo, Djalminha, Juninho Paulista, Ricardinho, Denílson, Luizão, Ronaldo and Edílson, and are led by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari; then the Palmeiras squad of 1999 – also including a few guest stars, with São Marcos, Sérgio, Neném, Rubens Júnior, Tiago Silva, Cléber, Rivarola, Agnaldo Liz, Tonhão, César Sampaio, Dudu, Galeano, Pedrinho, Amaral, Alex, Ademir da Guia, Evair, Oséas, Paulo Nunes, Euller, Asprilla and Edmundo, under the command of César Maluco. Be present to watch these gentlemen play live is one heck of a rush!

Kickoff. The National Team have more possession and test Marcos with a few shots. 17 minutes into the game, Edmundo is fouled inside the penalty area. Marcos, who hasn’t scored a goal in his entire career, refuses to take it but the pressure from the stands are deafening and when the players cross the entire pitch to come and fetch him, he succumbs. As the ball hits the back of the net the roar knows no limit.

IMG_1428The game progresses in similar fashion, with Palmeiras mostly counterattacking – Alex showing great form on the midfield. And every time Marcos touches the ball, the crowd goes wild. Early in second half, Marcos give way to Sergio between the posts, as the former change gear and now turns into a forward, without much luck though: Marcos hardly touches the ball while the 2002 squad reduces after a header by Edílson and then equalises through Luizão.

When the clock strikes midnight – and the date changes to 12.12.12 – the centre headlights at the stadium go off. With Kleine’s guitar version of the Palmeiras hymn in the background, Marcos takes hold of the microphone and delivers his farewell speech, thanking everyone who have been there for him throughout his career. He finishes with the words

Of you Palmeiras supporters I ask but one thing: never forget me. Because I will never forget you.

before jumping on a trolley that takes him on a lap of honour. This must be the best sending off of all times.

Now, there’s no such thing as a perfect script… In Sweden we have this expression: “ränderna går aldrig ur“, a reference to the stripes of a zebra that are not only in the fur but actually mark the skin of the animal as well. No matter what you do, a zebra is a zebra. Or, if you prefer, a skunk is a skunk. And it apparently takes a gambá to try to humiliate Marcos at his own party by opting for a mid-pitch shot while our keeper – with his back to all other players – is returning to the goal after converting the penalty (Ronaldo). It takes a gambá to steal the ball from 71-year-old Palmeiras legend Ademir “the Divine” da Guia as everybody else is enjoying the sequence of passes designed with the intention of showing off the grand old master’s touch (Edílson).

Nothing of this matters in the end. The farewell was a splendid display of palestrinidade, of love and respect for a team and the man who made it his home for more than 20 years.

We salute you, São Marcos!

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As if anything else was possible. The formal adieu of São Marcos will take place at the Pacaembu, 21pm, on the abovementioned date – this provided Palmeiras do not reach the final of the South America Cup: in that case the despedida is postponed to 13 December.

At the press conference with Marcos earlier today, we learnt a few more things about the event. Palmeiras will be composed of a mix of current player and players who participated in the 1999 Libertadores Cup triumph: Arce, Cleber, Edmilson, Euller, Evair, Galeano, Júnior, Oséas, Paulo Nunes, Rivarola, Sérgio, Veloso and Zinho are already confirmed. On the other side, the Brazilian World Cup champion squad of 2002 with names like Belletti, Cafu, Denilson, Edilson, Juninho Paulista, Luizão, Ricardinho, Vampeta and Ronaldo.

Marcos – at the time the undisputed keeper in both abovementioned squads – will not play one half for each side as previously speculated: a (in my opinion silly) paragraph in the club’s statutes does not permit that a player who has played against the club receives an honorary bust. And as Marcos is soon to be honoured with a bust at the grounds of the New Arena…

That little glitch aside, other surprises are being planned, which might include Marcos finishing the game playing in a forward position. As you will remember, he has never scored a goal in his entire career. Time for a miracle?

Tickets starting at US$30 and going as high as US$150 are already available to members of the Avanti supporter programme, with release for the general public on 15 November. Provided there are any left by then. My only hope. Fingers crossed.

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If you want something done – and done well – you’d better do it yourself. With that spirit in mind more than 5.000 Palmeiras supporters took to the streets on Saturday and gloriously represented the 15 million heads strong family of alviverde fans in reverence of now retired keeper “Saint” Marcos.

As of 11am supporters – many wearing a Marcos jersey – started to gather outside of the Palestra Italia stadium…


Then, at roughly 2pm, the crowd started moving toward the Pacaembu stadium under constant singing and cheering. The march took a little over an hour and completely blocked traffic.

There were flags and posters aplenty: below you find a compilation of the ones distributed by the organisers of the march (Lagrutta and I took turns carrying #36 – the Saint with Garibaldi). Click mosaic for the option to download images separately from the Verdazzo site!

At the Pacaembu, more supporters gathered up to form the crowd of 25.000 heads that watched the friendly against Ajax.

Although the game did not offer up much quality football, the end result – Palmeiras 1-0 Ajax – was rather surprising considering that Ajax are in mid season while Palmeiras have just started theirs. And if Ajax knew only Scolari, they now have a few more names on their list: both right-winger Cicinho and goalkeeper Deola performed splendidly, Cicinho to the point of getting attention from Ajax spotter van der Zee and coach de Boer. Watch the highlights below.



Saturday 16 January will be remembered by everyone who was there and participated. Once again, Palmeiras’ supporters showed how they are miles ahead of any football director or president in their unconditional love, wearing their hearts on their sleeves. Without a doubt the happiest day in my life as a palmeirense. Thanks to everyone who made it happen! AVANTI PALESTRA!


With keeper legend Oberdan Cattani in front of the Palestra Italia stadium

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Current Dutch League Champions Amsterdamsche Football Club Ajax – or simply Ajax – are making themselves comfortable in São Paulo. Having arrived a couple of days back for the friendly against Palmeiras this coming Saturday, they today visited the Football Museum located at the Pacaembu Stadium before conducting a training session. Earlier in the morning, Ajax coach Frank de Boer met with Luiz Felipe Scolari for a quick chat and a few interviews for Ajax TV, the Dutch club’s own football channel.

Founded in 1900, Ajax are one of three clubs that historically have dominated the Dutch national football league (the others being PSV and Feyenoord) and are considered one of the most successful clubs in the world, being one of the five that have earned the right to keep the European Cup and to wear a multiple-winner badge (consecutive trophies 1971–1973).

“Dutch football is highly regarded here in Brazil”, commented Scolari. “Not only for its tradition, but also for the manner they play the game, how they keep the flow, their technique. As we’re playing a friendly I believe the game will be a bit slower, also due to the teams being in between seasons. But we’ll take advantage of this duel to learn a few tricks in regard to the good football played by Ajax”, he concluded.

Ajax will conduct eight training sessions at the Palmeiras grounds – alternating with the Palmeiras squad – before Saturday’s game at the Pacaembu stadium. Kickoff is set for 5pm, local time, with yours truly in loco.

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