Pumped after yesterday’s important high-odds victory against Sport, all attention is on the Brazil Cup. The Verdão face Cruzeiro on Wednesday, basically needing a victory after the 3-3 home draw in the first leg. Any victory or a 4-4 draw or above would see Palmeiras through to the semi-finals. A 3-3 draw would lead to a penalty shoot-out, while any other result would see Cruzeiro through. In relation to the line-up against Sport, Cuca can draw on some important reinforcements. Playmaker Alejandro Guerra and defensive midfielder Felipe Melo are now available, having recovered from muscular fatigue. Same goes for centre-backs Edu Dracena and Yerry Mina, both expected in the starting eleven on Wednesday. In addition, Dudu, Borja, Tchê Tchê and Michel Bastos are available, all four suspended against Sport.
However not all is flowers: forward Willian strained his left thigh during last week’s draw against Flamengo and is out for 4-6 weeks. Defender Juninho, right-back Mayke and defensive midfielder Bruno Henrique arrived at Palmeiras after the 24 April entry deadline for the Brazil Cup. Centre-back Luan was already at the club but at the time still recovering from a serious foot condition: naturally, he was not graced with one of the limited spots.

Cruzeiro yesterday fielded a mixed bag against Avaí, parked in the relegation zone, and were beaten by the odd goal. Palmeiras also fielded a mixed bag against Sport but came out much better. Wednesday is anybody’s guess. Expect a great game of football.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Sold out, pulsating, but not for long; lions turned into cubs before halftime.

Palmeiras, seven men short, turning in the A game true Cuca 2016 style.

Souza? Zipped up and pocketed by Santos, alpha of the midfield.

21 games undefeated with Jailson; hero of the masses hardly broke sweat beneath the crossbar.

In the rented circus tent, cocky vultures eager to reach new heights.

Insane turn, chaos scoring twice times two.

Return in the trenches, every inch a battle, Jailson beating Diego eye to eye.

Nine greens shown the yellow… Sport no sport Sunday.

Palmeiras president Maurício Galiotte spent his Monday at F.C. Barcelona, further straitening cooperation between the clubs. Topics on the table included the exchange of junior players and the swapping of know-how on logistics and marketing.

The good relations leading to the arrangements involving first Yerry Mina and, more recently, Vitinho, are well known. However, last Friday, Palmeiras’ director of football Alexandre Mattos let us in on yet another aspect of the partnership: Barcelona vouching for Palmeiras’ seriousness vis-à-vis third parties.

Levante, the holder of forward Deyverson’s federative rights, were hesitant when approached by Palmeiras, having heard numerous discouraging stories regarding Brazilian clubs. Levante sought Barcelona’s advice and were told not to worry. Negotiations proceeded and were successfully concluded the other day, with Deyverson signing a five-year contract with Palmeiras.

“Tell me who you go with and I’ll tell you who you are”. Palmeiras lining up with the best.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Supporters in alliance with Allianz, filled again close to the brim.

Pressure with potential to transform green peas into popcorn.

Turns out Vitória was just the right size for victory, Dudu commanding like in days passed.

Plenty of work ahead but hope, faith and spirit halfway restored.

Fair and indisputable. Corinthians came focused, confident and tactically obedient to the extreme, executing their game plan ad perfectum. Full merit to coach Fábio Carille and the squad. Also to Corinthian’s directors, who somehow manage to prevent that turmoil from the club’s shady activities influence day-to-day work. Oh, the irony: on the day Corinthians put an end to Palmeiras’ streak of 28 home games undefeated, already on the 13th round placing both hands firmly on the Brasileirão trophy, the club’s most notorious supporter – former President of the Republic Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – is sentenced to nine and a half years in prison for corruption.

Recognising the merit of the opponent does not mean exempting Palmeiras. Coach Cuca was honestly outspoken at the post-game press conference, admitting not yet having found the recipe. He several times referred to last year’s excellent mesh, lamenting his inability to repeat the formula. He took full responsibility.

It is time for some serious soul-searching and stepping up to the challenge: get Palmeiras ready for the two upcoming, very difficult do or die games against Cruzeiro (26 July, Brazil Cup, away, first leg 3-3) and Barcelona de Guayaquil (9 August, Libertadores Cup, home, first leg 1-0).

Cuca needs to find his starting eleven, define positions and patterns. The rest of the season depends on it. The “no time to train” excuse is dead, it is a matter of priorities: with the Brasileirão title down the drain, he must make time available by sparing key players the competition. The squad at his disposal is qualified and numerous enough to muddle through in the weeks to come, while key players prepare for the task at hand: by any means advance in the two cups.

All this, while Palmeiras president Maurício Galiotte is on a month-long holiday. Absurd.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

Update: If you think the outset of facing considerable prison time would dampen the swagger of former president Lula, think again. The architect behind the Itaqueira stunt today tweeted “Forgive me for not talking to the press yesterday. I needed to see Corinthians beat Palmeiras.”

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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