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What a superb football night we had! Putting to shame the expectations for a monotonous game, since Palmeiras was almost classified after the 3-0 in the first leg, the white and green players ran after every ball as if the match was the most important of their lives. The 25.446 palmeirenses present at Allianz Parque were amazed by the Verdão’s performance.

Roger Machado was left without Jailson (suspended by the sports tribunal for three games, an additional effect of the red card he received against Corinthians and subsequent hot-headed albeit true statements made to the press) and Borja (serving the Colombian national team). He picked Prass and Keno for the starting eleven, with Willian positioned as centre-forward.
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2018.03.21 - AP

Stadium atmosphere as the match began (photo credits: Augusto Oazi)

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The game started with Palmeiras suffocating Novorizontino and in the 6th minute the score had already been opened. Willian received from Lucas Lima and sought Bruno Henrique; the ball was blocked, but returned to Willian, who with the second attempt found Bruno Henrique free to score.

The second goal came 10 minutes later. A one-two between Keno and Lucas Lima left the winger in position to execute a lovely chip shot, the keeper completely beaten.

The rhythm was insane, and in the 25th minute Dudu crossed the ball to Lucas Lima, but the midfielder’s shot was saved by the keeper. In the 34th minute Lucas Lima, always Lima, found Marcos Rocha behind the defenders with a long ball. The right-back crossed it to Willian, who firmly concluded to increase Palmeiras’ lead. In the last minute of the first half, Dudu still had time to score the fourth, after a give-and-go with Keno inside Novorizontino’s box.

After the perfect first half, Roger Machado promoted the season debut of centreback Edu Dracena, giving Thiago Martins a rest. Tchê Tchê also came on, replacing Marcos Rocha.

As the match re-initiated, Palmeiras were again in control, but less impetuous. This slower rhythm did however not stop opportunities from being created. Bruno Henrique missed the target in the 7th minute and Felipe Melo’s header was saved by Oliveira with 14 minutes on the clock.

In the 16th minute, Jonatan Lima received his second yellow card and went home earlier. In the 22nd minute, the referee did not award a penalty when Keno was pushed by the defender while trying to reach a crossed ball. 6 minutes later, another penalty suffered by Keno, this time the referee pointing to the 9-meter mark. Felipe Melo requested the ball and Dudu, the official penalty converter, granted it to him. Unfortunately, the outcome was not the best: Felipe sent the ball well above target.

The missed penalty was soon forgotten. In the 34th minute, Lucas Lima crossed the ball to Papagaio. The kid had come on for Willian and did not miss the opportunity to score his first goal playing as a professional for Palmeiras, a beautiful header giving final numbers to the match, making it Palmeiras’ biggest goleada at the Allianz Parque to date. Make sure to check out the highlights!
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Palmeiras’ opponent had finished the group stage of the São Paulo state Championship as the third best team overall in the tournament. Nobody expected Palmeiras going through with such ease. With an aggregated score of 8-0, Palmeiras massacred Novorizontino and are ready for the semifinals. Later tonight we will come to know our next opponent, most likely Santos, unless Bragantino classifies through a penalty shootout.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

– – – ooo – – – 
by Augusto Anteghini Oazi

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It was Palmeiras’ 100th game at the Allianz Parque. It was the 6th clash at the Allianz Parque featuring São Paulo at the other end. The result was the same as in the previous five matches: Palmeiras victory. The green side put out an almost perfect performance, to the delight of the 34.916 palmeirenses present.

Roger Machado lined up his usual starting eleven and, induced by the atmosphere of the stadium, Palmeiras started pressing São Paulo’s defensive line, provoking the arch-enemy to many failed passes. In the 4th minute, the first opportunity: Marcos Rocha took a short corner and Dudu almost found Borja clear inside the box. Five minutes later, Lucas Lima took another corner and this time, Antônio Carlos headed Palmeiras into the lead. 

Behind in the score, the opponent unsuccessfully tried to level, Palmeiras keeping up their initial rhythm and creating more opportunities. The second goal came in the 31st minute: Borja recovered the ball, passed it to Dudu who crossed it masterly to Victor Luiz, who met it with a beautiful volley. São Paulo goalkeeper Jean blocked the shot but Borja was unforgiving on the rebound and scored his 7th goal in 2018. 

In the last five minutes of the first half, Palmeiras almost scored a third: first through Willian (beautiful save from Jean) and Dudu (going wide).
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2018.03.08 - Pal-SP

Teams ready for the second half (photo credits: Augusto Oazi)

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Dorival burned his three alterations in halftime, trying to fix his mistakes on the line-up. The game got more interesting: while Palmeiras was finding the path to São Paulo’s goal easier, the Tricolor had an opportunity and hit the wood with Trelléz. 

São Paulo’s enthusiasm did not last too long, Palmeiras defensive line well organized. Machado made his subs before the 30-minute mark, with Scarpa, Thiago Santos and Moisés coming on for Willian, Felipe Mello and Bruno Henrique, respectively. In the 32nd minute, Palmeiras’ had a golden opportunity to end the abstinence of not having scored a free kick goal in more than three years, but Jean saved the well-placed shot from Lucas Lima. 

Palmeiras remained superior in the game. In the 37th minute, Borja scored but the referee ruled it offside (Borja’s position seemed fine on the replay). On stoppage time, Palmeiras’ supporters started the Olé against a helpless São Paulo; Lucas Lima dribbled some opponents and passed the ball to Marcos Rocha, who almost scored in the dying minute.
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With the three fresh points, Palmeiras now sum 23, securely in first position in the group. The opponent in the quarterfinals is already known: Novorizontino. Upcoming Sunday, Verdão play their last match of the group stage. Against Ituano, Roger will probably line up the substitutes to avoid any regular player being suspended going into the knockout phase.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

– – – ooo – – –
by Augusto Anteghini Oazi

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Palmeiras have announced the signing of Cruzeiro’s left-back Diogo Barbosa. The 25-year-old is Palmeiras’ second confirmed reinforcement for the 2018 season, Botafogo centre-back Emerson Santos being the first, signed already in August.

An early talent, Barbosa played for Vasco da Gama at the tender age of 18, but buckled under pressure. For a number of years he proceeded his career in smaller first and second division teams before returning to Rio de Janeiro in 2016 to play for Botafogo. Much more seasoned, he had a great year and caught the eye of the mineiros, who signed him at the end of the season. At Cruzeiro he continued his upward trajectory, crowned by decisive performances that culminated in the 2017 Brazil Cup title.
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Barbosa is strong in both offense and defence and currently considered one of the most regular wingers in Brazilian football. He will certainly go straight into Palmeiras’ starting eleven, especially as Egídio is on his way out (back to Cruzeiro, apparently) and Zé Roberto retiring. Other competitors for the position include returning Victor Luis (on loan at Botafogo until the end of the season), midfielder Michel Bastos and centre-back Juninho.

Palmeiras are paying Cruzeiro €1.5 million for 25% of the economic rights of the athlete. The remaining 75% are with an investment bank and can be purchased by Palmeiras at a later stage. A few days ago, a financially more advantegous offer for the player was made by Dutch club Ajax, but Barbosa had already made up his mind. Good choice.

Not that Cruzeiro wanted Barbosa gone… Truth is, the club’s finances are in a bad shape and they simply had to release him. Raposa supporters could be happier.  

Welcome and best of luck, Diogo!

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Alberto Valentim followed up his 1-3 debut victory away against Atlético Goianense with a 2-0 against Ponte Preta and, today, another convincing 1-3 away victory, this time in Porto Alegre against former runner-up Grêmio. Atlético and Ponte are in the relegation zone, and Grêmio today fielded an alternative line-up, as their priority is next Wednesday´s Libertadores quarterfinal. Nevertheless, Valentim has certainly succeeded in implementing some ideas of his own in these last couple of weeks and Palmeiras are faster, lighter, with players less troubled by excessive defensive task involving a lot of running due to Cuca´s man-to-man marking system. Keno, Tchê Tchê and Mayke are pulling the wagon, putting out extraordinary performances. Borja has been given more pitch time and has corresponded accordingly. The long-awaited mesh seems finally to have arrived. And with Mano Menezes a few days back announcing he has extended with Cruzeiro for another two seasons, suddenly the outlook for Alberto Valentim has shifted considerably. Certainly he has the backing of the squad and the supporters. Valentim however states he is solely concentrating on the tasks ahead, one game at the time, which is wise of him.
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With eight rounds to go, Palmeiras are the runner-up with 53 points, 6 points behind Corinthians. Our rival are one game short: tomorrow, they visit Botafogo, currently seventh in the tables. The Brasileirão everyone treated as a done deal two months ago is shaping up to be quite the thing. Trust me: every single corintiano is fearfully gazing in the rear view mirror.

Palmeiras next commitment is on Monday 30 October, at home, against Cruzeiro. After that, Corinthians await at the Itaqueirão… *Thump Thump*.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Palmeiras yesterday announced having reached an agrement for forward Deyverson, belonging to Levante but playing for this year’s Copa del Rey finalists Alavés, for € 5 million. The news came as a surprise: Palmeiras have been negotiating with Sport’s Diego Souza for two weeks and previously tried Fluminense’s Richarlison for the position. Other players, like Chilean Eduardo Vargas, were speculated. Palmeiras certainly flew under the radar on this one, beating (at least) Wolfsburg, Leverkusen and Porto to the chase.

Not that negotiations happened overnight: they reportedly initiated some 45 days ago, on request from Palmeiras coach Cuca. In Deyverson, Cuca sees a player with enough physical strength to fight off defenders, but also mobility to play outside the area. Barcelona coach Luis Enrique in May described the 26-year-old as one of the most dangerous strikers of La Liga, a complete player, physical but also technical. “Very good in the aerial game, a born fighter, always going after that second ball. A strong finisher, with fast transitions”, he concluded.

Negotiations with Deyverson dragged on a bit due to Levante’s initial reluctance to sell, but the forward’s wish tipped the scale. “At first, Deyverson was not interested in a transfer, he planned on remaining at Aláves”, his manager explains. “But as the offers started coming, both from Spain and other countries… In the end, he chose Palmeiras. The project they presented gave us confidence. We feel joining Palmeiras is a step forward, not simply a return to Brazil”.

Without doubt, Deyverson will grab one of the two remaining spots in Palmeiras’ Libertadores squad. If successful at his new club, through the increased visibility he might also catch national coach Tite’s attention.

Deyverson initiated his career at third-division Rio de Janeiro club Mangaratibense, from where, in 2012 and at the age of 20, he left for Benfica. From there he went on to defend Belenenses (POR), Köln, Levante and Alavés, playing a total of 141 games and scoring 38 goals. 1,87m tall and weighing 81kg, the forward is expected Thursday in São Paulo for his medical before signing a five-year contract.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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A few minutes ago, FC Barcelona announced the signing of Palmeiras’ attacking midfielder Vitinho, confirming last Friday’s featured article at Anything Palmeiras. The 19-year-old, with all of Brazil’s national squad youth divisions on his CV, comes as a loan move, expiring end of June 2018, with an option of purchase set at €15 million.

At Barcelona B, Vitinho is bound to grow significantly as a professional.

Best of luck, kid!
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Yellow and black filling stands, the Isidro a wasp’s nest.

Patches yellow on a fast, irregular, unfriendly stage.

Green halfway through turn yellow, cornered, tired.

The result a reflection of deflection.

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