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Archive for the ‘São Paulo Youth Cup’ Category

For the first time in history, this year, all of Palmeiras’ youth divisions made it to the semi-finals of the São Paulo state championships. But they did not stop there.

# U11 on Sunday play Santos in the first leg of the finals.
# U13 on Sunday play Corinthians in the first leg of the finals.
# U15 on Saturday play São Paulo in the first leg of the finals.
# U17 on Sunday play Ponte Preta in the first leg of the finals.
# U20 on Friday play Novorizontino in the second leg of the semi-finals, having won the first leg, away, 2-0.

In addition, the U17 are alive and well in the Brazil Cup: after eliminating Vasco da Gama on the quarterfinals, they beat Flamengo 4-1 in the first leg of the semi-finals and will, if they go through to the finals, face Chapecoense or Corinthians.
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Palmeiras athletes have been called up to integrate Brazil’s youth squads in increasing numbers. Evidently, the rapid and broad evolution of the club’s youth divisions – largely a legacy of former president Paulo Nobre who made it a priority to extinguish “Palmeiras B” and remodel the whole approach – carry potential great revenue for Palmeiras, be it through players to be integrated into the main squad or sold to top clubs in Europe or elsewhere. However, for that to happen, Palmeiras need to look very carefully at the final transition phase, from youth to main squad. There is something missing there, and has for some time, in terms of quality, quantity and mental strength. Palmeiras are not known as a hatcher of great talents, but could and should be, even more so considering the financial muscle now available. There is plenty of lessons learnt, good practices to copy, and successful professionals to sign (if needed).    

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Palmeiras this weekend made a goalless debut in the 2013 edition of the Paulistão against Bragantino. In all honesty, not much else was to be expected as the pieces available to coach Kleina are roughly the same as last year and considering the short pre-season. Positive impressions: returning Souza on the midfield and Prass between the posts. Negative ditto: Luan, Juninho and Márcio Araújo. Valdivia, injured, didn’t play. Sounds familiar?

The São Paulo Championship will definitely be training grounds for Palmeiras. A decent team needs to be but together in order to, with luck, advance to the second stage of the Libertadores Cup while doing the necessary to successfully conclude the Serie B and next year’s ascension.

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Let’s move on to the Copinha – the São Paulo Youth Cup – where the kids once again put on a splendid performance this weekend, beating Cruzeiro 4-2. The Verdãozinho will face Santos on Tuesday night in one of the semi-finals; in the other one Bahia (who trashed Grêmio) and Goiás (eliminated São Paulo in a penalty shootout) battle it out. Check out the highlights below.
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Maybe it’s unfair talking about the kids as “the future”: for them it’s very much here and now in their quest for the first Palmeiras title in the Copinha. Nevertheless, my mind constantly wanders to the not too distant future when selected gems from this promising batch are brought up to the major league.

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Talking about the future is however inevitable as Palmeiras’ General Assembly – composed by the 1.948 members who made themselves present on Saturday – ratified the fundamentally important and historical statuary changes relating to the Direct Vote. By the end of 2014, the choice of President lies in the hands of some 10.000 club members instead of the 280-something conseglieri of the Deliberative Council. The so called “filter” remains, as expected, the one unresolved question: none of the proposals reached the necessary 2/3 and thus the topic unfortunately goes back to the Deliberative Council: it is now imperative that all pro-democracy movements join forces in an effort to hinder the DC – and especially the infamous president of the Council Mr Vergamini – from exercising any technical or political manoeuvres that jeopardise the implementation of the Direct Vote.

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And so we all take a deep breath and get ready for the next thrill as the 281 conseglieri tonight cast their votes for club President 2013-2014. The two candidates are Paulo Nobre and Décio Perin, both considered to be in stark opposition to the current administration. The two gentlemen have rather similar agendas, where priorities include handing over key areas of the club’s administration to remunerated professionals, strengthen the club’s brand value and improve marketing, redesign the much criticised supporter membership programme and implement sound financial and fiscal policies. They have diverting opinions on one important question: Nobre is open for the idea of allowing supporters – not only club members – the vote for president in the future, something which Perin opposes.

While the agendas might be similar, the profiles of the candidates are anything but:

Paulo Nobre is 44 years old, a wealthy lawyer turned businessman and a rally driver. He’s a palmeirense through and through with both feet anchored in the stands from an early age. Having been vice-president in 2007-2008, this is the second time he runs for president. His approach seems bold and direct, reflecting his “doer” personality.

Décio Perin is 72 years old, has been actively participating in the life of the club for over 30 years and is a counsellor appointed for life. He’s an experienced economist and business administrator, having previously headed Palmeiras’ sections of Communications (1987-1988) and Marketing 1989-1992). Perin’s well familiarised with Palmeiras’ inner circles and pretends to use this to his advantage to pull through reforms.
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By midnight tonight we’re expected to learn who’ll be holding the steering wheel for the next couple of years.

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Due to the extremely turbulent days we are living at Palmeiras, the word is that any eventual player signing will occur only with the new president in office. That goes for Azevedo, Torres and especially Riquelme, who apparently has reached a verbal agreement with Tirone and now awaits Palmeiras’ next move.

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Speaking of Tirone, here goes our most intensively sincere last words to the exiting president, his vice-president aka director of football Frizzo and judicial director Piraci de Oliveira: vanish from the face of the earth you disgraceful, incompetent, pathetic beings.

The above is of course nothing but wishful thinking: Tirone and Frizzo are both conseglieri appointed for life and Tirone will in addition now also become a permanent member of Palmeiras’ Orientation and Fiscal Council (COF). Swell.

Anyway: Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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With 2-1 on the scorecard as the referee blew the final whistle, the kids yesterday sent Velo Clube home from the São Paulo Youth Cup. After goals from Chico and Diego Souza within eight minutes, what should have been a walk in the park actually turned rather tense as Velo Clube found the back of the net early in the second half and Palmeiras defender Luiz Gustavo saw his second yellow for the night. Still, the game was closer to 3-1 than the equalizer and the victory was more than well deserved.

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Palmeiras take on Cruzeiro in the quarter-finals, the mineiros having beaten Atibaia 1-0. Unfortunately, the Verdãozinho are not only without Luiz Gustavo but also playmaker Diego Souza, unjustifiably sent off at the very end of the second half.

The clash with Cruzeiro takes place tomorrow Saturday, at 17h local time, at the Barueri stadium. The winner proceeds to the semi-finals where Santos or Audax São Paulo await.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Man of the Match Chico

Man of the Match Chico

The kids grew a few additional centimetres yesterday as they maintained their composure even after having suffered two goals in two minutes in mid second half against Desportivo Brasil. It was full throttle all the way, with Chico paving the way with two goals and João Pedro closing the scorecard 3-2. Fernando and Bruno Oliveira also put out memorable performances. All in all, the match proved a very joyful experience. In Chico’s words: “Our supporters are marvellous, they supported us the whole time. When we suffered the goals, they sang even more. It’s contaminating, I hope they keep on doing it to the very end, we want to give them this title.”
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Palmeiras’ next commitment is already tomorrow Thursday, 18:30 local time, against Velo Clube. Velo Clube are from the city of Rio Claro in the interior of São Paulo and eliminated no other than Internacional in the previous round. A hard nut to crack.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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In the last match of the group stage in the Copinha, Palmeiras beat Barueri 3-1 and advanced to the knockout phase together with 31 other teams. Tomorrow night, it’s do or die – as it obviously will be all the way to the finals – against Desportivo Brasil from the city of Porto Feliz in the interior of São Paulo. In case of a draw, penalty shootout.

So far, centre-back Luiz Gustavo has made the strongest impression on me.

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From tears to all smiles, Marcos Assunção signed a one-year contract with Santos at the end of last week, making the veteran midfielder the seventh player to arrive at Santos pre 2013 season. Assunção certainly accepted a smaller pay check than what he demanded from Palmeiras a week ago, but such is life. He gambled a bit, hoping that Palmeiras would reward him for previous achievements, but stepped on a mine. With Santos immediately being responsive, Assunção decided to “return home” after 14 years. It will certainly feel a bit strange eventually watching the charismatic player setting up the ball against our side.

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It’s no secret that coach Kleina’s biggest need right now is for more centre-backs, as only Henrique and Maurício Ramos are available. While awaiting the Torres negotiation to conclude, Kleina has promoted 21-year-old Marcos Vinícius from the second team. The kid is tall, 190 centimetres, and has frequently been in the second team line-up. If Marcos continues to cause a good impression, he might be sticking around at least for the São Paulo Championship that kicks off the 20th of this month.

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While the Palmeiras youth are busy with the Copinha, the first team have a couple of friendlies on their schedule. The first one took place yesterday – gates closed – against São Caetano and Palmeiras won 2-1 after penalties converted by Barcos and Maikon Leite. After the game, the São Caetano coach told reporters that the impression he had of Palmeiras was a tactically disciplined team with a solid defence and fast counter-attacks.

What the São Caetano coach thought of messieurs Tirone and Frizzo – also present at the game – we will never know. I prefer not voicing my opinion, for more than obvious reasons. Thank God the countdown for the ending of their turn is in the single digits.
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Frizzo&Tirone— ooo —
Palmeiras today received a call from Riquelme’s agent Daniel Bolotnicoff, but not with a yes or a no. The Argentine midfielder requests a (second) visit to Buenos Aires from a high-level Palmeiras representative to once again be assured that Palmeiras have serious intention both in regard to his own future and in forming a competitive squad for 2013. According to the agent, Riquelme “is inclined” to accept Palmeiras’ offer.

Tomorrow Tuesday we’ll know what step Palmeiras’ directors will take. Stay tuned on twitter (@anypalmeiras) for latest news and gossip.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Ayrton_apresentacaoYesterday morning, right-backer Ayrton was formally introduced as a Palmeiras player, pulling on the #2 jersey while confidently smiling to the press. Ayrton was signed shortly after the Brazil Cup title, well before Palmeiras were relegated. If Ayrton is having any second thoughts, he didn’t give anything away during the press conference, on the contrary praising Palmeiras history and greatness, while expressing his desire to succeed in the club and help bring trophies home.

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Now without Marcos Assunção, it’s Ayrton and Souza – the latter the redheaded defensive midfielder returning after a loan to Náutico – who will be responsible for free kicks and corners. In last year’s Brasileirão, Souza scored seven goals, four of these on free kicks. Ayrton scored three out of four on free kicks.

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Also yesterday, but rather late at night, striker Barcos finally signed the much talked-about extension of his contract with the Verdão. The new contract is valid until the end of December 2016 and includes both a salary raise and an exit clause with a higher transfer fee: from € 20 million to € 30 million (roughly US$ 40 million). The new agreement also settles that Palmeiras have the right to explore Barcos image in Brazil, while the Argentine contains the rights to his image in his home country. Everyone seems happy. And so should be.

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Palmeiras are looking for other reinforcements as well, most notably two centre-backs, a playmaker and possibly a striker. A new proposal has been submitted for the defender Torres, but Millonarios seem more than reluctant to let him go. Late-stage negotiations are also running their course with 34-year-old ex-Boca Juniors playmaker Riquelme and left-back Márcio Azevedo of Botafogo. All of these could close or none of them – the second option seemingly more realistic, perhaps with the exception of Azevedo where a Palmeiras sponsor is already detaining 50 per cent of the player’s economic rights and might facilitate the transfer.

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Palmeiras’ football “manager” Cesar Sampaio is not only deeply involved in all of the negotiations mentioned above, but also working for free. With an expired contract, he continues doing his job and patiently awaiting some sort of definition about his future – most likely, a non-renovation of his contract. That however doesn’t seem to bother Sampaio much, who claims not being working for free but only fulfilling his obligations. “The way I see it, I’m contributing, and that satisfies me. Working at Palmeiras is about more than money. Later, we’ll see what happens.”, he recently told journalists.

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While some work for free, others can’t even be bothered to show up for training after the end of the year festivities. Who? The usual suspect, Valdivia. The vagabundo claims to have entered into a specialized, exclusive, amazing, high-tech recovery programme for his knee back home in Chile and that the programme needed completion. The number of days in said programme was known at the start. So why didn’t Valdivia call in? “No one would believe me anyway” was his lame excuse when returning to Brazil several days behind schedule and after having been unreachable by phone for days. For once, Palmeiras did the right thing and slapped him with a heavy fine.

Valdivia seems in good shape though and should be available in ten days when Palmeiras make their debut in the São Paulo Cup 2013. Clearly bitten, he stated the other day that in 2013, “he will play for himself and for the (Chilean) national team.” Is that so, vagabundo? Good luck. I hope you shine on the pitch and that your misdirected anger and frustration at least serves us some good until you reach your goals. Then, you can go to hell.

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In the Copinha, Palmeiras kicked off beating Confiança 6-0. Two days later, a goalless draw against Sertãozinho. With four points, Palmeiras lead the group. Tomorrow, against Barueri, possibly a draw but most likely a win propels Palmeiras to the knockout phase.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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*This Friday sees the kick-off of a tournament that can rightfully claim to be among the best youth competitions in the world – the Copa São Paulo de Futebol Junior.

Brazil doesn’t have a designated national championship at youth level. There is a CBF-organised Copa do Brasil at Under-20 level, an unofficial Brazilian Under-20 championship organised in Porto Alegre each year and numerous competitions held by different state federations at various age levels. However, in reality, the Copa São Paulo (or Copinha) stands above the rest to act as a de-facto national tournament.

One hundred sides from across Brazil will flock to São Paulo for the event, pitching Brazil’s giant clubs against many smaller sides from the host state, as well as representatives from every corner of the nation. The event offers great exposure for those playing at these smaller clubs, with matches televised across Brazil and scouts in attendance throughout in the hunt for emerging stars. For the next three weeks, youth football will be given widespread coverage in the Brazilian sports media.

The competition has evolved to be a fine proving ground for Brazilian talent. A good showing over the next three weeks and players could easily propel themselves into first-team reckoning.

From last year’s event, Roma defender Marquinhos, Juventus-linked Doria and Flamengo’s Thomas are already impressing at senior level. While, in the past three editions alone, internationals Lucas Moura, Casemiro, Neymar, Danilo and Oscar are all among those who have impressed at the Copinha.

For Palmeiras, the 44th edition of the tournament marks an opportunity to break a long-lasting taboo: among the big São Paulo clubs, Palmeiras are the only one never to have won the tournament. In order to come out on top, eight games must be played in three weeks, where the last five games must be won (the tournament starts with a group phase – 25 groups with four teams in each – then moves into a 32-team knock out phase). The man to lead the way is coach Narciso, recently contracted from current Copinha champions Corinthians. Narciso’s had 20 days to prepare the young squad, which includes five players that already made their debut with Palmeiras’ first team in 2012 and are now sacrificing their holidays to participate in the youth tournament. These are:

Diego Souza: the playmaker (pictured) participates in the Copinha for the third time and is considered one of Palmeiras’ most promising young players.

Bruno Oliveira: the right-back is having his shot at stardom with the arrival of Gilson Kleina.

Luiz Gustavo: versatile, this centre-back can also play in the right-back position.

Bruno Dybal: made a good impression as playmaker in Palmeiras’ last games of the Brazilian Championship 2012, but is thought to primarily act as defensive midfielder in the Copinha.

Vinícius: the striker has had several opportunities in the first team but seems to be struggling a bit. His experience might however become valuable in the São Paulo Youth Cup.

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Palmeiras are in group Q and play their first game tomorrow Saturday against Confiança/SE. Barueri and Sertãozinho complete the group.
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*general info on the Copinha shamelessly ripped from Chris Atkins’ piece published on ESPN. You can also follow Chris’ updates on the tournament action on facebook.

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