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After defeating Grêmio 1-0 last Saturday, Sunday was all about resting. Today Monday, only a light training session in the morning before heading off to Ecuador, where Barcelona de Guayaquil await on Wednesday. The Libertadores matchup for the group of 16 is illustrated below, with the second leg taking place in a month’s time.
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Ten days ago, CONMEBOL announced they were changing the rules regarding how many players a team could swap in their Libertadores squad – funny enough only hours after River Plate saw seven of their players fail a doping test. At the wave of a wand, the limit went from two to six players. Palmeiras today swapped four: Bruno Henrique, Juninho, Luan and Mayke replaced Rafael Marques, Vitor Hugo, Vitão (only still at Palmeiras) and Alecsandro.

The additional two swaps Palmeiras can (and certainly will) do up to 48 hours ahead of the second leg. One spot is dedicated to Moisés, who is in the final stages of recovery from his knee surgery. The last spot will probably go to a forward in Mattos’ crosshairs. Could be Diego Souza, currently at Sport. Before the weekend, we will know.

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Palmeiras appealed and CONMEBAL revised the absurd rulings following the debacle in Montevideo: Felipe Melo’s ban has dropped from six to three games, and the three-game ban on Palmeiras supporters during away games has been reduced to one game (which will be the one against Barcelona on Wednesday).

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Alberto Valentim is back at Palmeiras as assisting coach, after a brief spell at Red Bull. He left Palmeiras in December of last year, after it became clear he was not taking over after Cuca’s exit. Everyone celebrated his return, although Valentim himself recognises he is taking a step back in order to advance two steps in the future.

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Someone on the verge of taking a major step is 19-year-old attacking midfielder Vitinho. Seems Barcelona are close to finalising a loan move with an option to buy. Cuca has publicly given his approval: “Good for the player and the club if he goes to Barcelona B. He’s training well but, unfortunately, he can’t get the necessary minutes with us. At the moment, he needs to play”, Palmeiras’ coach recently stated.

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English football magazine “World Soccer” annually lists their Top 500 in the World, and the 2017 edition sports six Palmeiras players, more than any other Brazilian club: Felipe Melo, Dudu, Borja, Guerra, Mina and Tchê Tchê.

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Saturday, the Allianz Parque hosted Ariana Grande. Already on Sunday, pictures showed the stadium in shape to receive a game, with the pitch apparently intact. For the first time, stadium management had used a technique to anchor the stage not on the ground but using the ceiling, resulting in considerably less strain on the pitch and much shorter disassembling time. Not a day too early.

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The Allianz Parque, as first stadium in Brazil, has received the “Guiaderodas” seal of approval. The seal is given to venues that has proven fully accessible to wheelchair users and people with other physical disabilities. Unlike the old Palestra, the Allianz Parque was designed with full accessibility in mind from the start: parking lots, stands, restrooms, snack bars… There are 15 elevators and 26 escalators, and staff have been given specific training to meet the needs of disabled visitors.

As palmeirense wheelchair user Renan Barreiros commented: excellent news; will be even better once Palmeiras implement mechanisms that assure only disabled persons are able to reserve the specially designated seats at the stadium, as well as secure the same discounts that non-disabled, enrolled in Palmeiras’ supporter membership programme, enjoy for certain sectors. Seems Palmeiras are working on solutions; this is something worth keeping an eye on.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Last week’s signing of Bruno Henrique was met with scepticism. “Palmeiras need no more defensive midfielders”, they said. “Squad already too numerous”, they said.

After losing to Coritiba on 7 June, Palmeiras have played four games and lost three defensive midfielders due to injury: Palmeiras 3-1 Fluminense (Felipe Melo, thigh and hand, 4-6 weeks); Santos 1-0 Palmeiras (wounded pride, as Santos’ goal was an assault and Palmeiras was denied a clear penalty in the dying minutes); Bahia 2-4 Palmeiras (Thiago Santos, thigh, 3-4 weeks) and yesterday’s Palmeiras 1-0 Atlético Goianense (Tchê Tchê, thigh, awaiting confirmation).

Both against Bahia and Atlético, centre-back Luan came on in the second half to populate the midfield. Out of necessity, rest assured Bruno Henrique will make his debut sooner than expected.

Dudu spent three weeks with the medical department, coming back yesterday in the second half. Others Palmeiras players have been serving their national squads. Cuca’s task has not been easy. Nevertheless, the team’s performance has progressed in a consistent manner, as also reflected in the numbers: two thirds of Palmeiras’ points were collected in the last four rounds. Before playing Bahia, Palmeiras had not scored a single away goal, while the baianos had won their three home games.

The Verdão currently rests in seventh place at 13 points, 7 behind leader Corinthians, one game short.

With the international transfer window now open, football director Alexandre Mattos is certainly scanning the market. A forward with characteristics similar to Borja – who scored the winner yesterday – is a priority. The flanks are also a concern, in particular the left: Egídio has been inconsistent and Zé Roberto is increasingly suffering with keeping the pace up.

On a positive note, Guerra has evolved tremendously, and so has Roger Guedes: both are in splendid technical and physical form, being decisive in every game as of late.

On Sunday, Palmeiras travel to face Ponte Preta. Another away victory, and we could certainly say the tide has turned.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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A well-conducted transfer if you ever saw one. Yesterday, centre-back Vitor Hugo held his last press conference (for now) at Palmeiras, before moving to Europe and Fiorentina. The Italians had been eying the 26-year-old for some time, but Palmeiras managed to hang on to the player, a central piece of the 2016 champion squad. In total, Vitor Hugo played 131 games for Palmeiras, finding the net 13 times – one short to make the club’s top 10 list for scoring centre-backs.

With the aid of sponsor/partner Crefisa, Vitor Hugo was brought to Palmeiras from second division side América Mineiro in 2015 for €1.5 million for 50% of his economic rights. Now sold to Fiorentina for €8 million, Crefisa recovers the initial €1.5 million, with the remaining being split between Palmeiras and other stakeholders – a neat little revenue indeed.

Crefisa actually chose not to cash in, but to redeploy the €1.5 million into the acquisition of promising 22-year-old centre-back Juninho, from Coritiba. Prior to Juninho, Crefisa also helped in the acquisition of Luan, the 24-year-old Olympic gold medallist, previously at Vasco da Gama. Palmeiras’ medium to long-term planning is clear: Vitor Hugo just left, Edu Dracena might retire in a year or two and Yerry Mina will move to Europe after the 2018 World Cup. In their place, we have Antônio Carlos (24), Thiago Martins (22), Luan (24) and Juninho (22).

Anything Palmeiras wishes Vitor Hugo the best of luck overseas: this talented, hard-working and charismatic lad deserves it like few others!

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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Palmeiras this morning signed 23-year-old defender Luan, from Rio de Janeiro club Vasco da Gama, on a five-year contract, the price tag coming in at R$ 10 million (US$ 3.2 million) for 60% of the player’s economic rights. While getting to know his new club’s training facilities, the 1.88m tall 2016 Olympic champion did not disguise his enthusiasm. “I’m so happy, this is a dream coming true. I am very motivated, I want to help Palmeiras and I want to evolve here at the club. I’m arriving with an open heart, a focused mind, on fire and crazy to play, to make the supporters happy”.

The newcomer, born in the city of Vitória, played with Fernando Prass at Vasco and considers Palmeiras’ keeper a fathers figure to him. “I was 18 when I turned professional, and he always passed on advice, helping me a lot.” Luan also admitted to having called Gabriel Jesus just a few days back: “I had no doubts really, and after Gabriel told me ‘Go, you’ll be very happy at Palmeiras’ I could nothing but sign”, he laughs.

Do Palmeiras need another defender? Yes, absolutely. Yerry Mina leaves for Barcelona after the 2018 World Cup, Vitor Hugo is likely to transfer to Europe in the next window, Edu Dracena is already 35 and Thiago Martins will stay in the medical department for at least five more months. Antônio Carlos and Luan is our future centre-lock. Palmeiras are ahead in the planning, already preparing the squad for the 2018 season.

Welcome, Luan: may you shine brightly at Palmeiras!
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Training intensifies as Palmeiras prepare for a decisive sequel of games against traditionally strong adversaries, starting with Fluminense away this Sunday, then São Paulo (H), Grêmio (A), Flamengo (H) and Corinthians (A). No better time for players to return from the medical department: defensive midfielders Arouca and Gabriel are recovered, as well as centre-back Yerry Mina. With Gabriel Jesus back from the Olympic Games, the squad is again nearly complete: Lucas Barrios will need another 10-14 days and, of course, there is Fernando Prass, out for the remainder of the year.

Fernando Prass this week kicked off his physiotherapy sessions. Although he is not defending Palmeiras on the pitch, his day-to-day presence at the club and during the games have been inspirational. Prass himself seems motivated enough, recognising the hard work that lies ahead but assuring he will return stronger and better than ever.
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2016 - Prass recovery.
Gabriel Jesus also seems focused, in spite of all the attention deriving from his spell at the Seleção. Still top scorer in the league, even after a sex games absence, yesterday Jesus stated that he loves the club and that it would be a dream to wrap up the season as Brasileirão champion. He assured he would not shy away from any situation on or off the pitch.

2016 - Luan at Atlético ParanaenseLuan, the one and only, has joined Atlético Paranaense for the remainder of the year. Palmeirenses hardly believed the announcement and now rejoice, intensively wishing for the forward’s success at Atlético. After all, the paranaenses might put in an offer by the end of the year, allowing Palmeiras to recover some of the loss.

Speaking of Atlético Paranaense: during the away game on 15 August, cameras caught an Atlético supporter directing a torrent of racist abuse toward Tchê Tchê. Palmeiras quickly issued a statement, in the strongest language condemning the act and supporting the player in whatever action he might chose to take. The Supreme Tribunal of Sports has been made aware of the crime. Tchê Tchê himself seems inclined to letting the whole thing go. From Atlético Paranaense, not a word.

tsunami_verde_logoTomorrow, 26 August, the Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras celebrates its 102nd birthday. Anything Palmeiras urges each one of you, near or far, to pull on your favourite Palmeiras jersey and wear it with more than average pride on Friday: may this year’s Tsunami Verde be a rehearsal of another celebration due in a little less than four months’ time!

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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charles+oliveiraAfter two weeks of getting familiarised with the grim reality, Nobre and Co. are starting to take affirmative action also “where it counts”, as certainly a majority of supporters would feel: by strengthening the squad. With few options on the market, the swapping of Luan for two players from Cruzeiro is good news: defensive midfielders Charles (#28) and Marcelo Oliveira (#26) might not be stars, but neither is Luan, whos relation to Palmeiras’ supporters in addition had turned unsustainable. Both team are thus embarking on an experiment, with nothing to lose, as all contracts are based on loans until the end of the year. We are likely to see Marcelo Oliveira debuting already tomorrow against Atlético Sorocaba.

RonnyA third player – Ronieri “Ronny” da Silva Pinto, here pictured in the forefront – has been training with the squad for a week in the absence of a document from Europe, clearing him for play at Palmeiras. The playmaker was with Figueirense last season but in fact belongs to Estonian club FC Olimpi. Today, the document arrived, authorising the 21-year-old from Cuiabá to sign a contract for the remainder of 2013. Ronny is the bench option for Valdivia, but might actually be given a lot of play time considering the Chilean’s uncanny ability to get injured. Valdivia IS in fact injured: a muscular problem was detected after last Sunday’s 3-3 draw against XV de Piracicaba, taking him off the pitch for roughly two weeks (thus most likely removing him from Palmeiras’ first game in this year’s edition of the Copa Libertadores, against Peruvian Sporting Cristal).

KleberIn addition to the above, all seems ready for the announcement of Kleber. The 22-year-old Porto striker today passed medical exams and should tomorrow sign a one-year contract with the Verdão. A player of calibre, he should within a week or two stand ready to claim his spot in the staring eleven alongside Barcos.

Brunoro has clearly been a busy bee. Considering the limited options and the negative cash flow situation, he’s indeed doing very well so far. The expectation is for him to pull out another card or two from his sleeve before the first deadline to enter players for the Libertadores Cup.

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Academia_StoreTomorrow, the new line of official Palmeiras stores – the Academia Store – open up their doors for the public. The joint Palmeiras/Meltex venture – initially on a sex-year contract – foresees a total of 100 stores throughout Brazil, the first one placed on Augusta Street in São Paulo. Yesterday, an inauguration cocktail was held in the 250 square meter establishment in the presence of many Palmeiras dignitaries, including president Nobre and São Marcos. The store looks mighty fine if you ask me.

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Last but not least, renovation also in the Deliberative Council as Palmeiras’ members last Saturday voted in 76 new conseglieri for a four-year term. The DC consists of 300 counsellors: 148 appointed for life and another 152 elected, of which half are swapped every two years. Slowly but surely, new blood is entering Palmeiras.

A few days back the DC gathered and decided unanimously to propose a 15% filter on presidential candidates as of 2014. The proposal will be brought to the vote in an extraordinary General Assembly, date to be confirmed, and is considered approved if receiving 50% +1 of the total number of votes.

One important decision still lurks in the near future: the election of the new chairman/president of the Deliberative Council, to be held in March. With powers to accelerate or seriously cripple (vide Vergamini) the urgent statuary changes envisioned by Nobre and the progressive forces within Palmeiras, succeeding in placing the “right man” in front of the DC is crucial. Stay tuned for further developments.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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BarcVal.
Losing to Penapolense 2-3 last Sunday – the guests one man short for most part of the second half – really rubbed palmeirenses the wrong way; there were many a protest against the perceived lack of attention and determination shown by several in the squad.

Luckily, the trend was (at least partially) reversed yesterday against São Bernardo: Kleina tested a bold 4-3-3 configuration, obviously allowing for dangerous counter-attacks but also giving starting playmaker Valdivia plenty of offensive options. The score was constructed naturally – two goals from Barcos and one from Valdivia – and could have been amplified had not the São Bernardo keeper been so much on his toes. If Valdivia only could remain without injuries and frequently ignite like he did yesterday, there is room for optimism: on a good day, the Chilean is clearly one of the best players in activity in Brazilian football. Highlights below.
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Palmeiras have no money in the bank. Replacing the 20 players kicked out at the end of last season is an ungrateful task. The medium term solution lies in sponsorships and other partnerships with investors; the short term solution consists of loans and swaps.

Striker Mazinho has left for Vissel Kobe of Japan. No details have been made available, except that the contact signed is valid for a year and that Palmeiras received a satisfactory financial compensation in the transaction. It’s unclear if the contract includes a permanent buying clause.

Luan is another striker on the move. In spite of his 115 games for Palmeiras and being a hard-working and dedicated athlete, his limited skill has frustrated supporters and, in return, frustrated Luan back, being the primary reason for the (at least for now) temporary break. Everything seemed set for a change to Internacional of Porto Alegre, but Inter’s defensive midfielder Josimar, involved in a swap, didn’t fancy going to Palmeiras. Inter made a new proposal, this time in cash, which didn’t please the Verdão: Palmeiras need players. Football CEO Brunoro is in talks with Cruzeiro of Belo Horizonte and a deal seems likely to close already today Friday, reportedly involving defensive midfielder Charles, left-back Marcelo Oliveira and possibly a third Cruzeiro player in the swap.

Word on the street is also that Palmeiras are very close to signing 21-year-old offensive midfielder Ronny from Figueirense. The contract would be a one-year loan.

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The Copa Libertadores groups are now defined as Tigres from Argentina beat Venezuelan Deportivo Anzoátegui 3-0 to grasp the last spot in group 2, already featuring Palmeiras, Libertad and Sporting Cristal.

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The Brazilian Football Federation has released the schedule for this year’s edition of the Brazil Cup. The modified tournament, running 3 April to 27 November, now features 86 teams in seven knockout phases. For the first time since 2000, also national teams qualified for the Libertadores Cup (Palmeiras, Grêmio, Fluminense, Corinthians and Atlético Mineiro) will participate in the Copa do Brasil, but these will only enter the tournament as the last 16 battle it out.

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As Nobre and Brunoro continue the re-structuring of Palmeiras’ administration, one change stirred the blood of many a palmeirense earlier this week: the hiring of journalist Fernando Mello as head of the Club’s Communications Department. The department has been without command for some time, but still performed exceptionally well due to the more than competent work of messieurs Fabio Finelli, Marcelo Cazavia and Fernando Galluppo – the only three survivors when the Tirone administration terminated the contract with the firm they were working for.

So, what’s the fuzz all about? Well, there’s a fear that the award winning trio (Best Football Club Press Office 2012) will be substituted by people of Mello’s choice. And to further aggravate the anxiety is the fact that Mello is a feverish, outspoken and well-connected Corinthians supporter: for some people enough reason to disqualifying him from working at Palmeiras regardless of qualifications.

Supporters are passionate, often irrational. Now, from the directors, I expect rationality. I will give Nobre and Brunoro a vote of confidence on this one: unless they thought it very important I’m sure they wouldn’t have chosen Mello. And Mello, well, the man certainly has some balls walking straight into the Lion’s den, knowing he will be monitored like never before in his professional life. Welcome and good luck to you, Mello.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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