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Archive for the ‘Youth Academy’ Category

Palmeiras started against São Paulo FC as they finished against Fluminense: dynamic, fast and aggressive. Within minutes, two great opportunities created – one from each flank – leaving supporters believing it was only a matter of time before Palmeiras would open up the scorecard and start grinding down that taboo: not since 2002 have Palmeiras beaten SPFC at the Morumbi stadium.

A quick reversal after a foul on Dudu and awful timing from Thiago Martins as he tried clearing an aerial made it easy for Paulo Henrique Ganso to stuff our net. Unfortunately, that was the end of Palmeiras’ blitz: our opponents gradually took control over the midfield and tested Prass on several occasions, again showing why he is the best keeper in the competition. But that alone will not do, of course.
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A crucial aspect for Cuca to address is Palmeiras’ lacking consistency, the rollercoaster performances from game to game and, sometimes, from first to second half. This is nothing new and, partially, explains why the Palmeiras supporter nurtures an unusual strong bipolarity, normally expecting the worse and violently swinging between euphoria and doom. Yesterday, several players underachieved, most notably Dudu. Not for a lack of trying: Dudu is always full throttle and does not change his style of play for anything. Now, as he has only just returned from injury, he´s clearly not yet finely tuned with the ball and perhaps Cuca should have taken Dudu off the pitch instead of insisting in keeping him in a playmaker position where he repeatedly lost ball possession, resulting in numerous counter-attacks.

Roger Guedes was a shadow of the player we saw against Fluminense. Moisés, Tchê Tchê, Gabriel Jesus and Alecsandro idem. Only Prass was his usual, remarkable self, as was, rather surprising, Zé Roberto: many feared he would have trouble holding back Kelvin on the left flank, but the old man did splendidly well. Regardless of this, Egídio is expected back in the position against Grêmio on Thursday.

Gabriel_Jesus_2016Gabriel Jesus did not have a particularly good afternoon either: possibly his mind was partially occupied by the likely upcoming call to join the Brazilian Copa América squad, replacing attacking midfielder Rafinha (Barcelona) who recently contracted a muscle injury. The Cup takes place in the United States, 3-26 June. No palmeirense in his right mind would like to see Jesus absent for so long.  

On the same day we learnt about Gabriel’s likely exit, the Colombian federation confirmed Yerry Mina in their Copa América squad. Expectations were for the fullback to be called up only for the Olympics later in August, but apparently someone had a change of mind. Another setback for Palmeiras.

Finishing off on a happier note, the Palmeiras U17 squad is doing brilliantly over in Spain, where the Club World Cup is taking place. After having finished first in their group, Palmeiras beat Peruvian side Sporting Cristal 2-0 in the quarter-finals, before today beating Spanish side Rayo Vallecano 5-2 in the semi-finals. In the final, this Wednesday, our boys in green face no other than Real Madrid, who advanced to the title match by beating Atlético de Madrid 3-1.

Forza Palestra! Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Captain Nobre has one firm hand on the rudder while the other is holding the map with the coordinates. Reaching checkpoints, he ticks them off one by one and adjusts the course. Or what else could be said about:

– the formal charges pressed against the Mancha Verde supporter group in general and identified persons in particular, targeting the responsible for the brawl at the airport in Buenos Aires last week? Until the perpetrators have been expelled from the Mancha Verde and justice has run its course, Nobre – himself with a background in organized supporter groups – says there will be no dialogue. He has also announced the end of privileges to supporter groups, for example free tickets, and also announced the end of free ticket distribution to the members of Palmeiras’ conseglieri.

– today’s announcement of the extinction of the infamous Palmeiras B team, currently struggling in the backwaters of the A3 (!) division of the Paulista Championship, with very real possibilities of relegation? Palmeiras B was originally conceived as an incubator for talents but have for many years been nothing but a Mecca for shady investors/player managers – some of them with strong ties to the club or even counsellors themselves – making profits through commissions. Killing off the B team will partly solve that problem, in addition to saving Palmeiras a decent amount of cash in player salaries. Add to the mix Brunoro’s firm and confirmed policy of only taking on players that have at least 60% of their rights tied to the club (some players on the B team had unbelievable 1% tied to Palmeiras) and we can expect major changes to the dynamics of negotiations between Palmeiras and player agents.

Damiani– the appointment of a Mr Erasmo Damiani as new coordinator of the youth academy? Yet one of Nobre’s election promises, the restructuring aims at professionalising the youth academy with full-time staff dedicated to the spotting and development of future stars. A closer link between the youth academy and the first team is also envisioned. Damiani has previously developed good work at Atlético Paranaense and Figueirense.

With less than two months presiding Palmeiras, I hear voices complaining about the “lack of change”. Seems palmeirenses can’t even agree on the Earth being round…

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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Previous Monday and in several cities, the Mancha Verde supporter group protested against the current state of S.E. Palmeiras by displaying large banners at strategic places. The message was clearly addressed: “Directorship, the cancer of Palmeiras”. Below, examples from the Federal District, Goiania, Piauí, Maranhão and Paraná.
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On Wednesday we witnessed a small but important step toward a more responsible and transparent transition process, taken we have elections coming up in January: the three main presidential candidates from the opposition – Décio Perin, Paulo Nobre and Wlademir Pescarmona – met with current president Arnaldo Tirone. The sequence of meetings to follow will serve to level available information on the financial situation, marketing, current and future procurements, transfers, you name it. In addition, the talks serve to approach candidates with Palmeiras’ technical staff: all in all a very good initiative that will hopefully promote mutual respect and jumpstart the presidency of whoever is elected.

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What doesn’t need jumpstarting is the list of dismissals, apparently already crafted and ready for Thursday’s announcements. Most if not all players have already been made aware of their status. All players with contracts ending in December, for example Betinho, João Vitor, Thiago Heleno, Leandro and Daniel Carvalho, will leave. Those on loan until the end of the year – the likes of Correa, Artur and Obina – most probably idem. Even players on a longer contract, like Leandro Amaro and Maikon Leite, are at a serious risk. Journalist Alex Müller speculates as many as 23 players might have to walk the plank.

Not the Pirate, though: Hernán Barcos is one of the few there’s a positive consensus about and that Palmeiras are doing what they can to keep. Marcus Assunção (knee permitting), Wesley and Henrique are also invited to stay, as are the lion’s share of the recently promoted kids from the youth academy including Raphael Alemão, João Denoni, Patrick Vieira and Bruno Dybal.

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Speaking of the kids: several of them played and lost yesterday against Atlético Goianense: in addition to the ones mentioned above (minus Denoni), we had Bruno Oliveira, Wellington, Luiz Gustavo, Diego Souza and Índio alongside the usual suspects like Obina, Correa and Juninho. Less than 5.000 spectators at the Pacaembu. Game highlights below. I wouldn’t know what to expect from a bunch of young guns totted together at the end of the championship, so I prefer not read too much into the result or individual performances. Actually, I won’t read anything at all. But I liked the offensive spirit.
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Final round is against Santos, on Saturday. I’ve no clue to how coach Kleina will set up his squad but I would assume he’ll keep to the formula of giving the youngsters more experience – even considering the pressure of a derby and all.

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Results from the sub-categories of the on-going São Paulo Championship:

Sub-20: Both semi-final games finished 1-1, results which qualify Santos for the finals against São Paulo (Santos finished the earlier qualifying rounds ahead of Palmeiras and tournament regulations defines that as the tiebreaker).

Sub-17: After losing the first leg in the semi-finals against Desportivo Brasil, Palmeiras drew the second leg 2-2 and are eliminated.

Sub-15: first final leg against Audax was a goalless draw, with the second (away) leg taking place this coming Saturday at 9am (Brasilia time). Only a win will do, as Audax finished the qualifying rounds ahead of Palmeiras.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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While things go not so well with the A-team, the youth divisions are doing actually surprisingly well, Palmeiras being the only team to have reached the semi-finals in all the ongoing São Paulo youth championships: sub-15, sub-17 and sub-20.

The sub-20 start their climb towards the finals this Saturday, playing the first leg of the semi-finals against Santos in Americana, the return game scheduled for 24 November (Vila Belmiro). The sub-17 last week lost their first semi-final game 3-0 to Desportivo Brasil and face the difficult task of reverting the situation this Saturday.

The sub-15 are already in the finals, having yesterday beaten Corinthians 2-0 after a 1-1 draw in the first leg. The grand finale is against Audax, scheduled for 24 November and 1 December. One of the Palmeiras players to watch is forward Tiago Pará, a likely star in the making. Stay tuned for further updates on the progress of our “Verdinhos“.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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