Posts Tagged ‘eduardo baptista’

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.


Felipe Melo celebrates first goal in the Palmeiras jersey


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.

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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Any sãopaulino infiltrating the Allianz Parque yesterday was surely shaking like a leaf – in the fear of getting caught (after all, only Palmeiras supporters were allowed in, as in every derby in São Paulo as of late) and considering the retrospect of the clash in recent years: last 4 home games, only Palestra victories, with a goal tally 12-1 in Palmeiras’ favour.

With an eye on Palmeiras’ Libertadores Cup game this upcoming Wednesday, and considering previous Wednesday’s physically and mentally tough battle in Argentina, coach Baptista opted for a mixed bag against The Enemy. I first, real test of the squad’s strength. Against a São Paulo featuring the Paulistão’s best offense, how would Palmeiras behave without reference players like Edu Dracena, Jean, Zé Roberto, Felipe Melo, Keno and Borja?

Wonderfully well, we learnt. In what surely was Palmeiras’ best performance so far this season, São Paulo was thoroughly dominated. The line-up consisted of Prass; Fabiano, Yerry Mina, Vítor Hugo and Egídio; Thiago Santos and Tchê Tchê; Michel Bastos, Dudu and Guerra; Willian. Fluctuating between a 4-1-4-1 and a 4-2-3-1, Palmeiras never gave São Paulo a chance to breathe, consistently applying pressure high up on the pitch, compacting the lines, leaving the opponent little option but to clear the ball. Palmeiras created a number of chances, but the first goal came only just before halftime: Egídio won the ball on the midfield, by the left sideline, Dudu snapped it up, glanced over at Denis’ advanced position between the posts and fired away. Brilliant in every sense, a marvellous goal. And for the third time in three years, a São Paulo keeper is humiliated in similar fashion against Palmeiras. Difference is, this time, former keeper and current SPFC coach Rogério Ceni watched it all from the sideline.

In the second half, Palmeiras drove then final nails in the coffin, first through Tchê Tchê, with a terrific left-foot shot (what a comeback for the kid, spending last six weeks in recovery after fracturing his shoulder) and Guerra (his first goal for Palmeiras and his first opportunity playing the full 90 minutes, last 20 of these together with Borja).

The victory was everything we could have hoped for. Yesterday, we had a clear indicator Eduardo Baptista’s ideas are finally catching on. And as formations, tactics and game plans start to mesh, players loosen up and allow their creativity to flow, leading to better individual and collective performance, better results and a continuous boost in confidence. 

Jorge Wilstermann had better look out. 

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Palmeiras used yesterday’s game as dress rehearsal for the upcoming Libertadores bout away against Atlético Tucumán. Baptista again opted for the 4-2-3-1 formation, this time Felipe Melo taking Thiagos Santo’s place alongside Zé Roberto. Michel Bastos gave way to Guerra. And just as against Ferroviária, Willian started up front.

Even swapping pieces, the formation worked well and Palmeiras controlled the game. The soaked pitch ruined expectations for any class act, but the first half was nevertheless enjoyable, with Willian opening up the scorecard before the ten-minute mark and Palmeiras creating several chances.

In the second half, Baptista promoted Borja and Bastos on Willian and Guerra. The scenario remained mostly unchanged until Zé Roberto advanced his position, transforming Palmeiras’ formation into a 4-1-4-1. With that, the same problems resurged from previous games: Felipe Melo lost and alone, lines too far apart, difficulties in reversing from defence to offence. Baptista watched all this but apparently was not bothered by Red Bull applying more pressure and advancing positions. His third substitution was Roger Guedes on Keno, the young forward coming on red hot, soon increasing the lead after a beautiful pass from Zé.

Red Bull found their goal with five minutes left on the clock. A draw was however never close and in the dying minute, Borja again showed all his lethalness, closing the scorecard.

In two games for the Verdão, the Colombian striker has had the ball in his possession for 37 seconds, taken three shots and scored twice. If there was ever any doubt, he is the sharpest shooter in the squad. We also learnt that the 4-2-3-1 formation does indeed suit Palmeiras well, even swapping the pieces. And this without two crucial players for game reversal, Tchê Tchê and Moisés, available (the former will be tested tomorrow and might travel with the squad to Argentina).

Now, yesterday’s morphing from 4-2-3-1 into 4-1-4-1 leaves some of us puzzled. As Baptista did not try to mend, Zé Roberto was under instructions. Why does Baptista insist on a formation that is not working? His grace period is coming to an end, and fast. For now, he better settle on a formation and matching game plan that will put out solid, consistent performance. Leave the alternations and trickery to later.

Libertadores Cup. Our obsession. Bring it on.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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After the less than satisfying performance against Corinthians, and with Felipe Melo out due to the busted eyebrow contracted in that game, coach Baptista change the tactical formation against Ferroviária, abandoning the 4-1-4-1 for a 4-2-3-1. With Zé Roberto and Thiago Silva protecting the defenders, Egídio was promoted on the left flank. The full starting line-up consisted of Prass; Jean, Dracena, Vítor Hugo and Egídio; Thiago Santos and Zé Roberto; Dudu, Keno and Michel Bastos; Willian.

Ferroviária´s squad is of course less qualified than Corinthians’, but it was nevertheless possible to observe a clear improvement in Palmeiras’ transition from defence to attack. Palmeiras created numerous chances and could have settled the matter already in the first half, but went to halftime with the one goal, signed Keno.

The second half started a bit slow and supporters grew impatient, but that ceased as Michel Bastos increased the lead, nicely executing a set piece involving Jean. Not long after, Ferroviária converted a penalty. Again only one goal behind, the visitors launched an offensive that lasted for ten minutes, exercising certain pressure on Palmeiras. Baptista promoted the debut of Borja, officially presented that same morning, and Palmeiras’ new #12 needed little time to again increase the lead through a lethal counter-attack in partnership with Dudu, the crowds going wild. A few minutes before injury time, Roger Guedes closed the scorecard.



All in all, a solid performance by Palmeiras. Seems like Baptista have found a way around the absence of Moisés and Tchê Tchê, the latter expected back within a couple of weeks, the former only in September/October. Palmeiras now have a few days dedicated for training, as next game, against Red Bull Brasil, only takes placed upcoming Friday. Another good performance, and confidence will reach new levels ahead of the Libertadores Cup debut against Argentinian Atlético Tucumán on 8 March.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Eduardo Baptista picked his starting eleven well in line with what players have shown performance-wise in the last few rounds: Fernando Prass; Jean, Mina, Vítor Hugo and Zé Roberto; Felipe Melo; Keno, Michel Bastos, Dudu and Raphael Veiga; Willian.

In spite of Palmeiras’ on paper stronger squad on practically every position, and in spite of Corinthians playing the second half one man short due to a scandalous referee error, Palmeiras did not deliver. The first half was levelled but lacked in quality, with Corinthians applying pressure and hampering Palmeiras’ transitions.

In the second half, Baptista swapped Veiga and Melo – both booked early in the first half – for Guerra and Thiago Santos. Palmeiras took absolute control of the game, but ball possession did not translate into creating chances, the team lacking in pace and determination. With many balls being crossed, Baptista took Willian out, placing Alecsandro as a reference point inside the box, only to see the team give up on crossing. Punishment arrived with only minutes remaining on the clock, turning a sufferable draw into Palmeiras’ first defeat against Corinthians in years.

No telling where this is going. Many criticize Baptista, but personally, I agree with most of his choices yesterday, both before and during the game. Perhaps, when Felipe Melo asked to come off (tired, and with a gigantic cut to the brow) Baptista could have gone more offensively by promoting Egídio on the right flank, displacing Zé Roberto to the centre. In any case, the absences of Tchê Tchê and Moisés were felt.

“Why Alecsandro and not Barrios?” some might question. Because Lucas Barrios left Palmeiras that same afternoon, his agreement terminated in mutual consent. The 32-year-old striker arrived in mid-2015 thanks to sponsor Crefisa, who also have been paying his salaries. With the signing of Willian and, especially, Borja (the latter also arriving through Crefisa) Barrios expressed his desire to move on. In total, the Paraguayan played 45 games for Palmeiras, scoring 14 goals. Until mid-2018, he will play for Grêmio of Porto Alegre.

In terms of player options, I see no reason to crack down on Baptista. And although tactical execution was not great, the main ingredient lacking yesterday was determination. True, It is “only” the Paulistão, and it is still early in the season, but a derby against Corinthians is NEVER “just another game”. In an attempt to take pressure off, Baptista downplayed the relative importance of the clássico in a way that possibly contaminated our players.

Some serious locker room talk before turning the page and work work work. Already on Saturday, Ferroviária await. Arouca and Tchê Tchê are in their final stages of recovery. Felipe Melo, with 13 fresh stitches, might be left out of this one. Same does not apply to Guerra, certainly dying for the opportunity to start erasing yesterday’s blunder from the collective memory.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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In Brazilian football in general, and at Palmeiras in particular, time is never on your side. Palmeiras maintained all key ingredients of last year’s successful mix, except for one: the coach. Cuca, for personal reasons, has taken a break from football. In mid-December, Eduardo Baptista was announced as his replacement for the 2017 season.

Baptista debuted in the Paulista state championship beating Botafogo/SP 1-0, then lost 1-0 away to Ituano. These results, and the rather poor football presented, was enough to have segments of Palmeiras supporters raise hell on social media and the ultras of Mancha Verde last Thursday, with the scorecard still at 0-0 against São Bernardo, chant “Hey, Eduardo, pay attention, we want championship titles!”, before requesting the return of Cuca. Palmeiras went on to beat São Bernardo 2-0, goals by Dudu and Jean.

The topic of the week has been “pressure”. Even a seasoned player like Michel Bastos says he was taken by surprise by the volume of demands for expressive results and progress this early in the season. Everyone at the club, from directors down to players, all say the same: implementing a new style of play takes time: the squad and Baptista need a few more weeks to make it work. The premature ruckus has of course been picked up by the media, only adding more heat.
Although the São Paulo championship is a traditional tournament and obviously has its merits, one cannot deny that it primarily serves as a laboratory for modelling and tuning the squad ahead of the Brazilian championship, the Brazil Cup and international commitments (this year, in Palmeiras’ case, the Libertadores Cup). Being allowed a certain tranquillity at the beginning of the season, while conducting experiments, is crucial for the development of the team and the overall outcome throughout the year.

For some supporters, this is all bull. They feel performance is driven by pressure, and must surface quickly. More importantly, they stress their right to complain, as supporters, and as ticket holders. The effect of the pressure applied seems secondary to the right of exercising it: a curious standpoint from a segment who normally states “Palmeiras above everything” and “Eternal love”.

Last year, supporters filled the airport to wave off the squad ahead of an important away game. They also gathered outside the training facilities with flags, flares and instruments, players stepping off the bus to thank the crowds. A few weeks back, supporters in large numbers were at the airport a 6am to welcome Miguel Borja. The potential for supporters to influence outcomes, both positively and negatively, is a given.

Luckily, most seem to understand that Baptista and his men indeed need to be given time: while the ultras last Thursday expressed their dissatisfaction, a large majority of “regular” supporters at the Allianz Parque booed them down. 

We are less than two hours from kick-off. The team’s performance against Linense, away, will be the determining factor for any amount of tranquillity Baptista and the squad will enjoy ahead of next week’s derby against Corinthians.

Patience! Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Today, the Palmeiras squad was reunited for the first time in 2017, kick-starting pre-season activities with 26 athletes all in all, including reinforcements Veiga, Bastos, Keno and Hyoran. Guerra and Melo have been given a few days extra, as they were playing throughout December. Also Mina has received additional days off, as he used the first week of his vacation to recover from injury.

In addition to players already wearing other club colours, others were missing due to already well advanced transfer negotiations: keeper Vagner, midfielder Gabriel, and forwards Allione and Leandro Pereira.

Right-back Fabiano is with Cruzeiro, awaiting a positive conclusion of the Robinho negotiation in order to return to Palmeiras. Possibly, Fabiano will return accompanied by yet another reinforcement: forward Willian.

Arouca and Barrios were also present today, although their permanence at the club is unlikely, both currently studying offers from other clubs, with Palmeiras’ approval.

Players present today:

Keepers: Fernando Prass, Jailson and Vinicius Silvestre
Full-backs: Egídio, Jean and Zé Roberto
Centre-backs: Edu Dracena, Thiago Martins and Vitor Hugo
Defensive midfielders: Arouca, Rodrigo, Thiago Santos and Tchê Tchê
Offensive midfielders: Fabrício, Hyoran, Michel Bastos, Moisés, Raphael Veiga and Vitinho
Forwards: Alecsandro, Dudu, Erik, Keno, Lucas Barrios, Rafael Marques and Róger Guedes

In addition, Palmeiras today announced the signing of Antônio Carlos, a 23-year-old centre-back who played for Ponte Preta in 2016. He comes with the blessing of coach Eduardo Baptista, responsible for Ponte’s more than decent 2016 campaign.

Speaking of Eduardo Baptista, the coach was the natural centre of attention today, as players for the first time got a closer look at their commander. The 46-year-old firmly states he is prepared for the challenge, highlighting that Palmeiras picked him because the club’s directors believe in his working methods.
Baptista is considered a serious, modern and dedicated coach: he spent last month watching all Palmeiras’ games in the 2016 Brazilian championship, having requested a wide angle viewpoint to allow for tactical analysis. He also had talks with outgoing coach Cuca. Baptista says he has reached an understanding regarding what good parts need to be maintained at Palmeiras, and the not so good parts to develop further.

Our new coach sees Palmeiras’ squad as very qualified, but the high number of games during the season – close to 80, if Palmeiras go far in all competitions – is a natural concern. The solution goes through a decent-sized squad and, more importantly, frequent rotation among players, according to Baptista. Fairness is crucial, making players understand that decisions will be based on what happens on the pitch – during training and games. Work hard, perform well, and you will have your go, is Baptista’s message.

Here at Anything Palmeiras, our message is the same as always: Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
*all pictures, Cesar Greco/Palmeiras

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