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The one point against Grêmio – a strong opponent currently occupying third position in the tables – was a fall forward, although claiming that Palmeiras lost two points is also more than valid: after all, Grêmio played one man short for more than 70 minutes after Judas30 rightfully was showed the double yellow.

The game served up few positive aspects to write home about, one however being the above average debut of midfielder Tiago Real (above); the 23-year-old signed a four-year contract earlier in the week and came at US$ 500.000 (not 1.2 million as previously announced) for 50 per cent of the federative rights. The kid certainly showed potential, let’s see how long he lasts.
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Our rivals circling the relegation zone performed better this weekend: Sport beat Santos 2-1 while Bahia knocked São Paulo down 1-0. At least Coritiba and Atlético/GO were defeated by Botafogo and Ponte Preta respectively. It’s come to this: desperately summing points and hoping for the misfortune of others. And by “others” I’m not referring to our traditional rivals and enemies but Sport, Bahia, Coritiba, Portuguesa… We’re in the ER for sure, with 17 points in 21 games and five points below the first team out of the relegation zone.

On Thursday, Sport await. Hernán Barcos will not be available as he’s travelling to join the Argentine national squad (he’s also out against Atlético/MG and Vasco da Gama). Valdivia should be available. Assunção will be out for a few more rounds… Who’s going to score for us? Judging by latest developments, it’s easier pulling rabbits out of the hat.

At least the directors seem to have realized just how precarious our situation is and decided to encourage the supporters to encourage the team: a 50 per cent reduction in ticket prices is expected against Sport. Will it bring the masses to the Pacaembu? I don’t know.

Vamo que vamo. I have no clue how to translate that into English. Any suggestions?

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Again, our favourite moustache man had to improvise due to the large amount of injured players: Luan, Maurício Ramos, Thiago Heleno and Román are all recovering from muscle-related injuries, while Barcos is in the final stages of recovery from the appendicitis and Assunção has been feeling pains in the knee. The solution is bringing up the new generation and again, Wellington took position alongside Leandro Amaro as centre-back in Bruno’s 50th game between the posts in the Verdão jersey. Full line-up: Bruno; Cicinho (Artur), Leandro Amaro, Wellington and Juninho; Henrique, Márcio Araújo, João Vitor and Valdivia (Daniel Carvalho); Mazinho and Obina (Betinho).

The little more than 7.000 souls that showed up at the Barueri stadium saw Palmeiras in one of their best performances this year: rapid, precise and fluent passing, excellent tactical effort by everyone on the pitch and just the correct amount of intensity – players showing that they knew when to push hard but also when to slow down. The end result was a resounding 3-0, with Obina participating in each of the three goals. I’m telling you: the giant has woken up and will give a great deal of teams a great deal of trouble in this year’s edition of the Brasileirão. It’s joyful to see the newfound confidence in the whole squad.
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Considering all of the above, Valdivia’s comments after the game are even more unfortunate. The “I’m staying” was yesterday exchanged for a “We’ll see” attitude as he again evoked the image of his split family and uttered the phrase “contracts exist to be broken”. We all have Kleber aka Gladiador aka Judas in fresh memory and Valdivia’s stance surely echoes the attitude of the former. The last thing Palmeiras need is another backstage vendetta. If Valdivia is at all concerned about Palmeiras, he should simply put keep his mouth shut and quietly decide about his future.  

— ooo —

The pressure on Deola became too much and the former keeper of choice, replaced by Bruno, is being transferred to Vitória for the rest of the season. It should be a good solution for everyone: at Vitória – a club from the state of Bahia and currently in the second division – Deola should have little problem securing his spot in the starting eleven. Hopefully he recovers his form and either returns to Palmeiras in 2013 or is sold for a hefty amount.

The vacant spot as Bruno’s substitute will be filled by the very promising Raphael Alemão from the youth academy.

Avanti Palestra!

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Grêmio 0-2 Palmeiras. Allow me to repeat that: Grêmio 0-2 Palmeiras.

Yesterday was like having the “old” Palmeiras back with the “old” Luiz Felipe Scolari. In an unexpected 3-5-2 with Henrique as libero and with all players perfectly focused on their tactical (and mainly defensive) roles, Palmeiras were able to nullify Grêmio for most of the game, slowly cooking the stew and then, in a blitz with the crucial participation of fresh legs Mazinho and Cicinho, scoring twice in the last few minutes before hearing the final whistle. Assunção, after the game, dedicated the victory to Valdivia.

PALMEIRAS: Bruno; Maurício Ramos, Henrique and Thiago Heleno; Artur (Cicinho, 19′ 2nd H), João Vitor, Marcos Assunção, Daniel Carvalho (Mazinho, 40′ 2nd H) and Juninho; Luan and Barcos.

GRÊMIO: Victor; Gabriel, Gilberto Silva, Werley and Pará; Fernando, Souza, Léo Gago and Marco Antônio (Rondinelly, 30′ 2nd H); Miralles (Marcelo Moreno, 15′ 2nd H) and Kleber (André Lima, 15′ 2nd H).
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The result is epic in its proportions considering the retrospect of both teams in recent times: while Palmeiras have gone from bad to worse, Grêmio have won all their games in the Brazil Cup 2012 and can on the whole show very impressive numbers when playing in the cauldron of the Olímpico stadium. Now, nothing is to be taking for granted and Palmeiras must continue as focused as ever for the return game: Grêmio are tradition and pride and will do their outmost to reverse the score coming Thursday. Expect a very tense game, not least due to the tough love Kleber aka Judas received yesterday and the strong albeit friendly rivalry between coaches Scolari and Luxemburgo.

Only negative aspects of yesterday’s clash were Artur’s possible muscle injury and the weak performance by Daniel Carvalho; in the (permanent?) absence of Valdivia, Daniel is Palmeiras’ only true playmaker and his form will be important in shaping the team’s offensive capacity during the course of the year.

Tonight at the Murumbi stadium, São Paulo and Coritiba battle it out for the other spot in the finals.

AVANTI PALESTRA!

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Before anything else: forgive me for leaving you in the dark in relation to the first leg of the sub-17 São Paulo Cup final that took place last Saturday. My post-weekend post was so focused on the mathematical escape from relegation and the following and sudden dismissal of the entire Palmeiras press office staff that I entirely forgot to mention that we were victorious against Santos. 1-2 was the final score, and Palmeiras can now afford to lose the second leg by the same score at home (due to a better overall campaign we have the benefit of the draw) and still raise the trophy. The kids did more than alright; they played excellent football and showed that there are indeed good things happening at the base. The second leg is being played this Saturday, at 10 am. Stay tuned!

Looking ahead to the coming two games against São Paulo and Corinthians respectively, president Tirone has promised that players will receive an extra bonus if winning. Marcus Assunção and others quickly minimised the impact of this measure, claiming that if salaries were being paid on due dates, players should get on the pitch and to their best always, not depending on bonuses to boost performance.  He is of course right, not least considering the disappointment that was/is Palmeiras of 2011.

Looking further ahead, the São Paulo football federation recently released the schedule for next year’s edition of the Campeonato Paulista. The regulations remain the same: first eight teams progress to the quarter-finals. Both quarter and semi-finals are played in one game only; in case of a draw, penalty shootout. The final is a two-legged affair.

Below, with courtesy of the always excellent Blog do IPE, behold the dates of Palmeiras’ games:

Round 1: Bragantino x Palmeiras, 22/1 (Sun)
R2: Palmeiras x Portuguesa, 25/1 (Wed)
R3: Catanduvense x Palmeiras, 29/1 (Sun)
R4: Palmeiras x Mogi Mirim, 1/2 (Wed)
R5: Santos x Palmeiras, 5/2 (Sun)
R6: Palmeiras x XV de Piracicaba, 8/2 (Wed)
R7: Palmeiras x Ituano, 12/2 (Sun)
R8: Americana x Palmeiras, 18/2 (Sat)
R9: Palmeiras x Oeste, 22/2 (Wed)
R10: Palmeiras x São Paulo, 26/2 (Sun)
R11: Linense x Palmeiras, 29/2 (Wed)
R12: Palmeiras x São Caetano, 4/3 (Sun)
R13: Botafogo x Palmeiras, 11/3 (Sun)
R14: Palmeiras x Ponte Preta, 18/3 (Sun)
R15: Corinthians x Palmeiras, 25/3 (Sun)
R16: Paulista x Palmeiras, 28/3 (Wed)
R17: Palmeiras x Mirassol, 1/4 (Sun)
R18: Guarani x Palmeiras, 8/4 (Sun)
R19: Palmeiras x Comercial, 15/4 (Sun)

EDIT: IPE informs that the exact dates are not yet decided – the list above indicates order of games and approximate dates (for example games scheduled for a Sunday can be moved to a Saturday). The final list will be compiled in the next few weeks.

And there he goes, surely to make Grêmio’s supporters miserable. Kleber, Gladiator, K30… Or, as preferably called by most palmeirenses for the last few months, Judas. He didn’t leave a day too early. And I must admit that a smile came across my face as I saw the pictures (courtesy of his rotten-to-the-core agent Giuseppe Dioguardi) of him signing the 5-year contract with Grêmio, apparently boosting his salary to nearly double the amount he was receiving at Palmeiras. Suckers. Perhaps I also should try offending my boss and then fake injury in order to get a raise?

Grêmio paid Palmeiras roughly US$ 2.8 million for a 50% share in the player (the other 50% belong to Cruzeiro), which must be considered reasonable – for Palmeiras, that is. My smile grew even bigger when I saw the ridiculous little doll in blue and white stripes. Poor gremistas… I give them six months: K30 will be out the back door faster than you can say “traitor”.

AVANTI PALESTRA!

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My Sunday post-game draft was a rehearsal of misery and pain. Palmeiras played well against Grêmio and even at large dominated the opponent and were rightfully winning 0-2 (goals by Cicinho and Assunção), with rather good performances by in particular Cicinho, Patrik and Ricardo Bueno.

Grêmio scored with 20 minutes to go. Palmeiras however continued controlling the game. At 45 minutes, Grêmio midfielder Fernando found the ball at his feet and in a last effort nailed the equaliser with a long-range shot that defined gravity. Watch the highlights below.

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For the first time in months, Palmeiras showed consistency and team spirit. Palmeiras did deserve the three points, but once again fortune turned her back on us. I know full-grown men who cried as the referee blew the whistle – cried out of frustration, sadness, agony over a year that seems never to end.

But time is a healer. And Palmeiras proved to be alive, in spite of everything.

— ooo —

Kleber – by most palmeirenses today referred to as “Judas” – yesterday (Monday) participated for a good hour at TV Bandeirantes. The stage had been set and he didn’t disappoint, attacking Palmeiras, the directors and in particular coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. “80 per cent of players don’t like Scolari and want him out”.

Remember how Scolari backed Kleber up, publicly announcing that he was the best striker playing in the Brasileirão and even gave him the captain’s arm band? Don’t expect any credit with Kleber. According to Judas, Scolari is the rotten apple at the core of Palmeiras’ problems: interesting words coming from a player who a few months back, and before trying to extort Palmeiras into raising his salary by threatening a move to Flamengo, said that Scolari was the best coach in Brazil (only comparable to Muricy Ramalho) and that he was doing fantastic work with a technically limited squad.

Palmeiras responded by allowing new football manager César Sampaio to be interviewed by TV Bandeirantes this early afternoon. Sampaio, extremely calm and pragmatic about it all, laid it out in only a few words and with extreme clarity. He said that he had conducted three meetings:

Firstly, Sampaio had talked with the directors, explaining that if Luiz Felipe Scolari in fact was the problem, he wanted the green light to fire him if necessary.

Secondly, Sampaio talked to Scolari and the rest of the technical commission. Scolari made clear that he always had Palmeiras’ best in mind at that he would leave immediately – and also abdicate from the contractual fine – if that was the wish of the players and directors.

Finally, Sampaio gathered the squad and explained the situation. If players felt Scolari was the problem, they needed just say so. Sampaio also assured them that no single player or group of players would be hung out, but that the decision of Scolari’s dismissal would be his and his alone.

All of this was communicated to the Bandeirantes reporters, in addition to the players’ verdict: Scolari stays. By broad consensus.

Perhaps a page is turning with Kleber leaving (destination still unknown but Grêmio seem the only viable alternative at this point) and players again uniting. César Sampaio has in two weeks already started making a difference at Palmeiras.

— ooo —

Tomorrow Wednesday, Palmeiras receive Vasco da Gama at the Pacaembu stadium. With four rounds to go, Vasco is currently tied with arch-rivals Corinthians for first place in the Brazilian Championship.

Voices are being raised for Palmeiras to make less of an effort tomorrow in order not to help Corinthians win the title. I question not only the sanity of doing this while Palmeiras are still risking relegation, but of course the moral aspects. In the end, my position is simple and echo that of Fabio Tatu, writer for the Palmeiras fan page at Globo online: entering the pitch, I want my team to do what I always expect them to do: win the game.

My Vasco wife who will have to forgive me…

AVANTI PALESTRA!

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Two events marked our timeline today and both involved former golden eggs Kleber and Valdivia: the former has travelled to Porto Alegre and is expected to sign for Grêmio this week; the latter arrived late (and drunk?) to the hotel where the Chilean National Team is gathered and was, together with four other team mates, removed from the squad as punishment.

While writing these lines, I’m also watching Vasco da Gama against Universitário from Peru in the second leg of the South American Cup quarter-finals. Vasco lost the first game 2-0 and was 1-2 down in this game – and thus needed to score an additional four goals – when the second half started. With just five minutes to go, Vasco is now winning 5-2; a tremendous game, with the cariocas showing tremendous heart. And this from a team that already have guaranteed their spot in next year’s Libertadores Cup due to being current Brazilian Cup champions. Vasco are also sharing top position with Corinthians in the Brazilian Championship. So, it’s not like they don’t have plenty of other things on their mind. Nevertheless, Vasco are giving their very best to honour their history and their supporters. And doing it well. That was the final whistle: Vasco are through to the semi-finals.

I’ll use the opportunity to treat you to a little gem produced by Daniel Grandesso – owner of the excellent Blog do Maluquinho. He put this list together when midfielder Pedro Carmona was arriving a few months ago and with Klebergate in fresh memory. It’s a (sometimes, sometimes not so) tongue-in-cheek manual containing basic rules that any player at Palmeiras would do wisely to follow if he’s interested in nurturing a peaceful relationship with us supporters. Enjoy!

1. Stay far from the Medical Department. You have arrived at a prime Football Club, not a spa. In injured, always return before what our doctors expect.  

2. Don’t party hard.

3. Stay away from twitter. If you don’t, at least refrain from blaming you cousin for whatever crap you post.

4. Don’t compare your salary with that of others; it’s your problem if your personal manager doesn’t know how to negotiate.

5. Don’t demand acknowledgment, earn it.

6. Never do interviews criticising your team mates, your coach or the club directors. Sort it out backstage, far from the microphones.

7. Never go to “Jogo Aberto”. If you go, dress in Palmeiras gear. Never talk to Perrone, not even in your Palmeiras gear [this part is all about avoiding certain “journalists” that are known for their anti-Palmeiras stance].

8. Kneel when you see Marcos for the first time. Address him as “Your Sainthood” or “Saint”.

9. Never ever celebrate a goal imitating João Sorrisão [a stupid TV stunt, making players behave like fools]. More important: do not kiss the badge. You don’t support Palmeiras, you play for Palmeiras.

10. Always respect the supporters and never disgrace the jersey. The badge on the chest is always more important than the name on the back.

11. Hate the referees and all your opponents. Always loath The Skunks (Corinthians) and be merciless with The Bambi (São Paulo).

12. __________. This number is immortalised at Palmeiras. You should already know this.

AVANTI PALESTRA!

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If the previous edition of our “sonar pings” was short, this one is packed with news – and a few of them rather promising for a change!

César Sampaio new football manager
This afternoon, César Sampaio was announced as the new football manager at Palmeiras. He is a professional (i.e. will receive a salary) and will at large substitute the work (?) carried out by vice-president and director of football Roberto Frizzo – at least when it comes to dealing with the squad and day-to-day activities at the club. Exactly how this division of work will happen is something for future posts.

The 43-year old former midfielder can only be considered an idol and played a total of 307 games for Palmeiras in 1991-1994 and 1999-2000. As Captain of the team that brought home the 1999 Libertadores Cup, he has an undisputed identification with Palmeiras and the supporters. In fact, Sampaio has always radiated leadership on and off the pitch; be it in Japan, in Spain or during the 1998 World Cup.

After wrapping up his career as a player in 2004, Sampaio underwent management and marketing training before working at several Brazilian clubs in the first and second divisions. Sampaio has signed with Palmeiras until the end of December 2012. “Good luck” are the most sincere wishes from Anything Palmeiras!

Candinho Farias returns
There’s good news on the horizon also for our junior players: after ten years of absence, Candinho Farias returns to become the Technical Coordinator for all junior players at Palmeiras. Candinho is 55 years old and is known for his great eye for spotting talents. Hopefully he will be able to boost this rather dormant section at Palmeiras.

Sub-17 in the semi-finals
On Saturday morning the sub-17 squad play the first leg of their semi-final in the São Paulo Cup against Desportivo Brasil (the other sub-17 semi-final is between Paulista de Jundiaí and Santos F.C.). Unfortunately all our hopes rest with the sub-17, as the sub-15 lost in the quarter-finals and the sub-20 (2009 champion and the 2010 runner-up) didn’t survive the group of 16 this year.

Palmeiras have never won the sub-17 São Paulo Cup title: let’s keep our fingers crossed for the promising players that in a near future hopefully will make us proud entering the pitch of the New Arena.

The New Arena receives first pillars
On Tuesday we could follow the fixing of the first pillars of what will be Palmeiras’ future home. Until now, the construction company WTorre has been demolishing old buildings, preparing the grounds and concluding work on various administrative buildings and other facilities. WTorre has also been fixing many poles to the ground. Now the time has come for the pillars that will actually sustain the New Arena – and there will be roughly 400 of them – each weighing 25 tonnes and standing 18 meters tall.

It’s great to see work progressing according to schedule!

  

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How’s your English?
One of the clubs’ sponsors, FISK language training, is offering English classes twice a week to players and technical staff alike. At least a few are excited about the opportunity and enjoying the lessons taught by professor Vânia Palomeque. Check out the video below: it’s mostly in Portuguese, but you’ll certainly enjoy watching as players sweat a bit when having to answer a few questions posed by the FISK reporter.

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Cicinho completes 50 games for Palmeiras
Cicinho, who’s in the video above, will on Sunday against Coritiba reach the mark of 50 games for the Verdão. The right-winger, brought from Santo André at the beginning of the year, has generally surprised in a positive manner this season. Are we allowed to wish for commemorations on Sunday with goals and everything?

Latest on Klebergate
Suspended from play and not training this week, everyone is anxious to have his future sorted out as quickly as possible. A proposal from Grêmio has finally arrived and is being studied by Palmeiras’ directors, who by the way have taken a firm approach: the negotiations will from now on include Palmeiras and Grêmio and no one else. No agents. Nothing. At least until the two clubs have reached, or not, an agreement. Let’s wait and see.

AVANTI PALESTRA!

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