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Palmeiras’ premature exit from the Brazil Cup and Libertadores Cup will not have an immediate impact on the squad, which is good. With the exception of Felipe Melo, no one is leaving. Palmeiras and Melo are seeking a amicable settlement; the quicker things are resolved the better. 

mina_castNow, the medical department is having busy days. Against Barcelona, Mina, Dudu and Jaílson were injured. The latter two should be out for another three weeks, while Mina is looking at three months due to a broken toe. “I’ll come back, stronger than ever” he stated yesterday, posing with his cast.

Mayke, Willian, Thiago Martins and Juninho are all in the final phases of transition and are likely available on Sunday, at home, against Chapecoense. Also Guerra and Moisés should be fit for fight.

Then there is Arouca. After two surgical procedures early in the year, removing cartilage from his right ankle, the defensive midfielder is reaching the end of a long recovery period. Still, he has a few more weeks to go and there are doubts if he will make a strong enough impression to secure a spot in next year’s squad, which Mattos and Cuca certainly are already moulding in their heads.

Goalkeeper Fernando Prass is negotiating his extension, and so is left-back Egídio. There are a bit of mixed feelings related to both these negotiations.

Rounding off with a piece of unconfirmed news that Palmeiras have signed Botafogo centre-back Emerson Santos. Corinthians had a deal almost sealed but were apparently beaten on the finishing line. Emerson is to arrive in January of next year. More info to follow.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Palmeiras’ spot in the quarterfinals of the Paulistão already secured, coach Baptista has been using remaining games in the group stage to test some ideas and give benchwarmers the opportunity. The alternative line-ups have not cooled down attendance: 21,5K against Mirassol at 8:30 pm on a Thursday and today, at 4 pm against Audax, a whopping 28K on the stands.

Against Mirassol, only two or three regular starting eleven players in the line-up. Same thing against Audax. One must tailor expectations accordingly. The team played surprisingly solid against the former, 2-0, goals by Rafael Marques and Felipe Melo (his first for Palmeiras). Today’s 2-2 against Audax was less satisfying (goals signed Róger Guedes and Willian), but again: only Tchê Tchê, Zé Roberto and Vitor Hugo are normally associate with the starting eleven. In addition, it is natural for players to relax a bit, as the objective – to reach the knockout phase – has already been achieved.
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Felipe Melo celebrates first goal in the Palmeiras jersey

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In any case, from the two games we learnt that Antonio Carlos is a good option in the centre lock and that Guedes is finding his form.

With today´s draw, Palmeiras sustain an undefeated home streak of 19 games, being 15 victories and 4 draws. Eight long months. Eduardo Baptista’s overall percentage is 69: in 15 games for Palmeiras, he computes 9 victories, 4 draws and 2 defeats.

Attendance
Back to the topic of attendance: already in 2016, Palmeiras were pulling ahead of other teams in Brazil. With a 32.471 average attendance in 2016, Palmeiras rank 56th in the world, Corinthians coming in at 74th with an 28.764 average. Internacional is the third Brazilian club on the top 100, at 96th, with an 25.422 average. Considering that Palmeiras also had the highest average ticket price in Brazil last year – R$ 60 (S$ 19) – one can easily imagine the long-term effects.

The aforementioned study was carried out by Brazilian newspaper Correio Braziliense and looked at 2.956 teams in 75 countries. In case you are curious, the top five teams are Borussia Dortmund (81.178), Barcelona (79.724), Manchester United (75.286), Bayern München (75.000) and Real Madrid (71.280).

Allianz Parque now family friendly
Against São Paulo FC, a novelty: Palmeiras debuted a new, designated “family area” at the Allianz Parque. Any adult buying a ticket for this area can bring a child, up to the age of six, without additional charge. Something of the sort has been a long-standing demand from supporters. Finally attended!

Players in the MD
In the medical department, unfortunately centre-back Thiago Martins has joined Moisés. The youngster ripped his knee ligaments during training the other week, and just like Moisés will need at least six month’s recovery time. The misfortune did however not stop Palmeiras from renewing the player’s contract, extending it another year, now running until the end of 2019. 

Two more player are in the medical department. Jean injured his foot against Santos, but a full recovery is expected in another week or so. Arouca had a second surgery to his left ankle yesterday and has being taken off the Paulistão list, with Hyoran replacing him. Should be interesting to watch.

Last game before the quarterfinals is Ponte Preta, away, upcoming Wednesday.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Unusual in Brazilian football, and certainly for Palmeiras, the club recently saw two of their players suspended on doping charges: seasoned forward Alecsandro and midfielder Arouca.

622_269bb3e3-71bd-341a-a34d-ef7d65aaab0cThe scenario looked particularly bad for Alecsandro, tested positive twice and slapped with a two-year ban by the São Paulo Tribunal of Sports, practically ending the career of the 35-year-old. However, in a surprising turn of events, the international doping agency Wada informed the Brazilians that the second test was, in fact, a false positive.  In other words: no confirmation of illegal substance detected. With that, he was immediately cleared for training and play at Palmeiras.

As for Arouca, the club’s lawyers are confident he will also be cleared. Although an illegal substance was indeed detected in the athlete’s urine sample, it is the result of an intra-articular procedure, approved by Wada, whereby a certain drug is applied directly to an injured joint in order to lessen an inflammatory process. Due to this, although Arouca is awaiting trial, he is free to play for Palmeiras until further notice.

The World Cup qualifiers continue to take their toll on Palmeiras. Gabriel Jesus has been called up for Brazil’s home game against Bolivia on 6 October and for the away game against Venezuela on the 11th. In addition, Lucas Barrios has been summoned for Paraguay’s games against Colombia and Argentina. The offensive duo will miss two games in the Brazilian championship: against América Mineiro away on 9 October and against Cruzeiro at home on the 12th. In addition, there is a considerable risk/chance Yerry Mina will be called up by Pékerman for Colombia’s clashes with Uruguay and, as mentioned above, Paraguay. In the light of the above, Palmeiras are likely to request the game against Cruzeiro be transferred to the 13th, in order to have the two/three players back and in playing condition. Stay tuned.

gabriel_1191zh9i8iq9e1me42945gns1rDefensive midfielder Gabriel and Palmeiras seem close to sign a new, five-year agreement. The player is on a two-year loan from Monte Azul and was a pillar in Palmeiras’ defence throughout most of last year, until a severe knee injury took him out. Only recently has Gabriel showed he is returning to good old form. In order to secure the player’s economic rights, Palmeiras will reportedly pay approximately US$ 1.6 million.

— ooo —

Saturday last week, Palmeiras went to the Itaqueirão to beat Corinthians 2-0, goals by Moisés and Yerry Mina. That ended Corinthians’ streak of 34 games undefeated at home. Palmeiras keep the lead in the Brasileirão, with Flamengo one point behind. Palmeiras’ next victim, Coritiba, Saturday, at the Allianz Parque.

Yesterday, Palmeiras secured their spot in the Brazil Cup quarterfinals after an uninspiring game against Botafogo/PB. As the first leg ended 3-0 in Verdão‘s favour, Cuca opted for resting all regular starting eleven players except Zé Roberto in this second leg, and the odd goal defeat was fair enough. Tomorrow Friday, the draw to define Palmeiras’ next opponent: Corinthians, Santos, Grêmio, Cruzeiro, Atlético Mineiro, Internacional/Fortaleza and São Paulo/Juventus are the contenders.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Palmeiras are little by little unloading dead weight in the squad. Midfielder Régis never progressed and has been returned to Sport. Today, fullback Leandro Almeida signed with Internacional, on loan, for the rest of the season. Every palmeirense jumping with joy, no irony.

tobioThe future of Fernando Tobio remains uncertain. In 2015, after losing space in the squad and facing personal issues, Tobio made clear his desire to leave, more or less forcing a transfer to Boca Juniors. His time now up at the Argentine club, Boca initially announced they would not evoke their right to purchase. As a return to Palmeiras was practically ruled out, negotiations with Flamengo started. Yesterday the Rio de Janeiro club announced they had instead opted for Réver, from Internacional. This explains [sic] why Inter went after Leandro Almeida. Full circle, with Tobio as bystander and his contract with Palmeiras running until end of 2019. However, rumours yesterday claim Boca have changed their mind and are signing Tobio for three years, liberating him from Palmeiras at a US$ 2,7 million price tag.

The supposedly promising Chilean midfielder Arancibia, by some dubbed “the new Valdivia”, did not see his contract renewed with Palmeiras. Youth division manager Sampaio says there has been an accelerated development among players competing for the same position, like Arthur and Kauê, making Arancibia superfluous. The Chilean arrived at Palmeiras in April 2015, suffered a series of injuries and never caused much of an impression.

Midfielder Arouca had an arthroscopy last week, treating a minor knee condition. Expectations are for a speedy recovery. Check out his message to fans on social media, with a picture of him undergoing the procedure.

Alecsandro-3Palmeiras yesterday confirmed that a urine sample from striker Alecsandro, collected on 3 April after the 1-0 victory against Corinthians for the São Paulo championship, tested positive for steroids. A second test will be conducted early next week. More info to follow.

Palmeiras finished the U17 World Club championship as runner-up to Real Madrid, the title being decided in a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw at full time. Our young players were very close to the title, conceding the draw only a few minutes from stoppage time. Nevertheless, a splendid campaign, showing Palmeiras’ relatively recent investments in the youth divisions are paying off.
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The organised supporter group Mancha Verde has announced it is expelling nine members, identified as participants in last Sunday’s violent outbreak at the Mané Garrincha stadium in Brasilia, where Palmeiras beat Flamengo 1-2. The Mancha also say they will cooperate with the police. Both these acts are nothing short of a mini-revolution if considering the organisation’s track record. Let us hope this is the beginning of a new Mancha Verde.

Also Palmeiras are cooperating with the police, having identified 17 of the troublemakers as Avanti members and excluded them from the supporter programme. In addition, Palmeiras are studying the possibility to take these supporters to court for “dishonouring the name of the club” and possibly inflicting punishment on Palmeiras from authorities.

The strained relationship between Palmeiras and Allianz Parque constructor/manager WTorre reached new heights as the “partner” announced Palmeiras would not have access to the stadium on yet another home game, as on that date it would be used for a screening of the movie “Independence Day: Resurgence”.

The contract between Palmeiras and WTorre is a very sad piece of work: Palmeiras have no means of vetoing dates and events as long as WTorre pays a specific fine (which, by the way, the construction company has failed to do). Still, frustration felt by Palmeiras supporters have been somewhat “under control” due to class acts like Iron Maiden, Katy Perry and Paul McCartney being the cause for Palmeiras having to play elsewhere. Now, expel Palmeiras in order to promote a movie screening?! Supporters went nuts when they learnt about this and within hours, campaigns were drawn up to put pressure on the organisers. The protests soon escalated to a promise: go through with the plans, and we will sabotage your event, making more noise around and inside the stadium than you could possibly imagine.

I am absolutely convinced our supporters would have won this tug-a-war, but we will never know: the Brazilian Football Federation accepted Palmeiras’ request and anticipated the date of the game, avoiding a clash.

Now, that was yesterday. Today supporters learnt that yet another event is planned, exactly on the date Palmeiras would receive Santos, this time in order to conduct a religious service on the premises. The “ThereWillBeNoSceening” hashtag was quickly replaced with a “ThereWillBeNoService” equivalent, climbing the ranks in no time. The message seems clear enough: no third party event at the Allianz Parque will be peaceful unless conceived in harmony with Palmeiras and Palmeiras’ supporters.

As you notice, a week full of excitement, the major one still ahead of us: Sunday’s derby. Why not raise the adrenaline level a notch or two? It is easy to place a bet, you know…

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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As predicted, Sunday’s away game against Atlético Mineiro proved a hard nut. Palmeiras got the early goal, Andrei Girotto bagging his first for Palmeiras putting his forehead to a perfectly timed cross by Lucas. As we’ve seen before, the goal stopped Palmeiras dead in the tracks and Atlético dominated the rest of the first half completely, going into halftime with a 2-1 lead after two goals by Lucas Pratto.

Marcelo Oliveira promoted change already at halftime and again with ten minutes on the clock: Egídio (again terrible) gave way to Robinho, who did a good job in the middle while Zé Roberto took over the left flank. In another offensive move, Gabriel Jesus replaced Girotto. Palmeiras gradually increased ball possession and pressure, which culminated as Barrios replaced Alecssandro. Unfortunately, and in spite of many chances, Palmeiras were unable to equalise.
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Palmeiras are parked fifth in the tables, now twelve points behind Corinthians and eight behind Atlético. Grêmio are six points ahead, Fluminense two. Some palmeirenses are chucking in the towel, forgetting the title and refocusing on the Libertadores spot (awarded to top four teams). Too early, in my opinion: Palmeiras have every possibility to win upcoming games against Joinville and Goiás, before receiving Corinthians at the Allianz Parque. Nine points won, and anything can happen.

Lucas Barrios seems to understand this. Yesterday, we learnt that he asked Paraguay national coach Ramón Díaz not to call him up for a friendly against Chile in two weeks’ time. Barrios explained he preferred fine-tuning at Palmeiras and be available for the derby, and his request was duly granted by Mr. Díaz. Now that’s how you make an impact.

Leandro Pereira seems to be feeling all this and possibly preparing a move. The current top scorer has not had many opportunities with Marcelo Oliveira as of late and a deal seems close with Belgian club Brugge. Palmeiras hold 50% of the 23-year-old, the parcel purchased for R$ 5 million. If the deal goes through, Palmeiras might make a small profit, something like R$ 1 million. The transfer window closes on 31 August.

Thiago-Santos-Palmeiras-Foto-Divulgacao_LANIMA20150825_0051_52Defensive midfielder Thiago Santos is the 25th athlete to join Palmeiras this season. The idea is for Thiago to suppress the impact of Gabriel’s absence (out for the remainder of the season due to a knee injury). Sporting good numbers playing for América Mineiro in the second division, Thiago is welcomed by former club companions Vitor Hugo and Andrei Girotto. Also worth mentioning: the 25-year-old was brought in with the help of main sponsor Crefisa, who paid the fine to yank him from América and will also pay his salaries. In other words, same procedure as with Barrios. Thiago’s contract ends December 2018.

Speaking of injuries: Cleiton Xavier has come down with a muscular problem and is expected back in playing condition no earlier than late September. Arouca is recovering, but will not face Cruzeiro tomorrow, hopefully being available against Joinville on Sunday.

Palmeiras have released pictures of the new third jersey for 2015: a silvery/gray piece with something resembling a watermark on the chest, displaying an image of the 1915 Savoia Trophy – the first trophy won by Palmeiras/Palestra Italia, beating Sport Club Savoia 2-0 in the team’s first game ever.
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The official launch of the jersey is scheduled for this upcoming Thursday, the day after…

PALMEIRAS 101th BIRTHDAY! Yes, tomorrow Wednesday 26 August marks the first year of Palmeiras’ second centenary!

And what a birthday, with a decisive away game against Cruzeiro for a spot in the quarterfinals in the Brazil Cup. A draw and Palmeiras are through to the next phase.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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After suffering three defeats in a row (Atlético Paranaense, Cruzeiro and Coritiba), Palmeiras last Sunday beat Flamengo 4-2 halfway through the Brazilian championship, then yesterday proceeded with a 2-1 victory against Cruzeiro in the first leg of the Copa do Brazil group of 16. Losing streak broken, Palmeiras back on track and all blue skies? Not quite.

Previously analyzing recent defeats, the most disturbing factor was the expressive drop in quality and overall mood. Although victories against Flamengo and Cruzeiro certainly have changed the mood to the better, technical issues largely remain the same: Palmeiras of today are characterised by inferior ball possession, bad passing, confused defensive positioning and inattentiveness. Against Flamengo, fluke and questionable refereeing limited initial damage, allowing Palmeiras to recover and dominate the last 25 minutes of the game. Yesterday, Palmeiras were saved by individual brilliance displayed in short bursts. In both games, Palmeiras initiated the second half in a zombie state, conceding goals before acting under pressure and turning things around. Highlights below (starting with yesterday’s game against Cruzeiro).
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In a previous post, I wrote that Cleiton Xavier was stirring my temper like Wesley in 2014. Against Flamengo, the crucial (and lucky) equalizer was Xavier’s feat and against Cruzeiro, he opened up the scorecard following a terrific setup by Egídio and Barrios. Go figure.

Yesterday, Arouca left the pitch already in the first half, feeling the back of his thigh. If injury confirmed, both central pieces of Palmeiras’ midfield defence are out (Gabriel for the remainder of the season, mind you). In Brazil, the importance of having multiple quality options on the bench cannot be underestimated. Coach Oliveira will have to find a way.

Upcoming Sunday, Palmeiras travel to face Atlético Mineiro. The team from Belo Horizonte, until recently top dog, come from two defeats in the Brazileirão and yesterday drew with Figueirense in the Brazil Cup. Thus, both teams have been underperforming as of late, although more pressure will be on Atlético due to home advantage and more recent defeats. Let’s see if Palmeiras are able to explore this advantage.

Overall, the Brasileirão anno 2015 is an exciting and open affair: teams have been oscillating a plenty and will continue to do so, especially as fatigue and injuries increasingly become important factors. Again: a numerous squad of decent overall quality is fundamentally important and in this aspect, Palmeiras seem to be reasonably well prepared for the remainder of the season. Even currently trailing nine points behind Corinthians, the title should be our goal.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

ps. Did I mention that Monday was Valdivia’s last day as a Palmeiras player? Hallelujah.

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Sampaio.
With the São Paulo championship being decided this coming Sunday, no doubt regarding what team to send to São Luís, state of Maranhão, for the first leg of the second round of the Brazil Cup: everyone except the normal starting eleven. Thus, Palmeiras’ line-up was a complete novelty: Jaílson; Ayrton, Tobio, Jackson and Victor Luis; Amaral, Renato (Andrei Girotto, 22’/2ºH) and Alan Patrick; Kelvin (Juninho, 43’/2ºH), Ryder (Cristaldo, 21’/2ºH) and Gabriel Jesus.

I admit to having expected more. Of course nothing levelled with what we’ve seen from Dudu, Rafael Marques, Robinho and Cleiton Xavier, but at least better than what was presented by Kelvin, Ryder, Alan Patrick and Gabriel Jesus. In addition, none of the flanks worked. True, the heat was a contributing factor to the stale performance, the tall grass another. Also, of course, the fact that these men might have trained together but actually never played a game together, not a real game at least.

The positive is that we got a draw and an away goal. Moreover, that Cristaldo found his way back into the net. Also that no one was injured. Return game, in two weeks’ time, should be a piece of cake.

— ooo —

Santos, at the Vila Belmiro, 4pm on Sunday. Today a video of Santos forward Robinho, rapping a “victory song” of sorts, appeared in social media. The santistas seem confident. They are in their right. Nevertheless, the advantage is Palmeiras’. A draw, and the title is ours.

Arouca is undergoing special treatment but I cannot see him ready for Sunday’s clash. Valdivia however should be ready, although it’s exactly when he should be that he isn’t. No use in speculating.

I consider Arouca’s absence the only negative in the squad at this moment. That being said, Palmeiras did just fine without him last week. I believe his cool and experience is being put to good use off the pitch these days, mentally preparing the younger ones.

The heat is rising by the hour, unfortunately triggered further by the death of a lone Palmeiras supporter at the hands of a gang of santista cowards earlier this week. The day after the attack, Santos announced the ticket vending spot for Palmeiras supporters: smack in the middle of Santos ultras territory. I’m still unsure of that’s only plain stupid of if there’s actual evil involved.

Eliminating Corinthians in the semi-finals, on their home ground, was magnificent.

Trashing cocky Santos at the Vila Belmiro for the Championship title will be epic.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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