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Following a handful of punctual signings in the last weeks, Palmeiras now consider the 2018 squad assembled. The five reinforcements address the primary shortcomings identified throughout the 2017 season and any other players – such as Ricardo Goulart or Gustavo Scarpa – will only be considered in the case of particularly interesting opportunities materialising.

On the five newcomers:

Weverton, Olympic gold medalist, will battle with veterans Fernando Prass and Jailson for a spot in the starting eleven. The 30-year-old keeper played the last six seasons for Atlético Paranaense.

rocha_croppedMarcos Rocha, the most recent newcomer, takes over the right flank, the 29-year-old arriving from Atlético Mineiro on a one-year loan swap involving Roger Guedes. Libertadores and Brazil Cup champion, Rocha also has a couple of Brazil caps on his CV. He comes with a fixed price should Palmeiras wish to keep him beyond 2018.

Diogo Barbosa had a great year at Cruzeiro and arrives to solve Palmeiras’ problems on the left flank. The 25-year-old had lucrative offers from abroad – Ajax in particular – but opted for the Verdão. In exchange for one if not the best left-defender currently active in Brazilian football, Cruzeiro sees the return of Egídio.  

Lucas Lima was brought in from Santos to overcome Palmeiras’ offensively rather stale midfield, in spite of names like Alejandro Guerra and Raphael Veiga in the squad. Moisés was frequently designated with the task, although not comfortable with the playmaker role, as he is much more a box-to-box midfielder. Lima, if motivated, is a heck of a player.

Emerson Santos is but 22 years old and was Palmeiras’ first signing designated for the upcoming season. Previously at Botafogo, the centre-back has plenty of potential but is not expected to grab a spot in the starting eleven quite yet.

In addition to the aforementioned recently signed, Thiago Martins, Victor Luis, Allione and Artur return to Palmeiras after having spent the year at other clubs. Maybe not all of these are expected to remain at Palmeiras in 2018, but will be observed by coach Roger Machado during the initial months.

Machado has been fully involved in assembling the 2018 squad, picking arrivals and deciding which players to do without. Several top players have been brought in, but not much money has been spent – thanks to Alexandre Mattos reaching new levels of efficiency. In addition, unlike previous years, the squad resumes activities on 3 January without any pending issues – an important ingredient in the recipe for success.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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After yesterday having his picture snapped wearing a Palmeiras jersey underneath the Brazilian National Team polo, Neymar frankly admitted he one day would like to play for the Verdão.

“Already as a small kid, I was Palmeiras. My idols were Evair, Marcos, Rivaldo, Alex… These are the guys I looked up to. I became a palmeirense because of them.”
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Neymar and the rest of the National squad today trained at Palmeiras’ Football Academy ahead of Tuesdays World Cup qualifier against Chile at the Allianz Parque.

“Nobody knows about tomorrow, but it would be a great pleasure (to play for Palmeiras)”, the Paris Saint-Germain forward concluded.

Lucas LimaDirector of Football Alexandre Mattos today met with Neymar’s father, but Neymar is not transferring to Palmeiras (quite yet). Now, there is a decent chance playmaker Lucas Lima, currently at Santos, pulls on the green kit next season. So happens, Neymar Senior is Lima’s agent… Stay tuned.  

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Yet another solid performance by Palmeiras, finally against one of those smaller but well-trained teams our Verdão – much to the despair of the home crowds – have been suffering with lately. Cuca now computes three straight victories. He better keep it up, as Palmeiras only face knockout games until the Brazilian Championship starts on 14 May. Upcoming Sunday Palmeiras and Santos battle away and, if everything goes as planned, the stage will be set for an epic Palmeiras vs. Corinthians (or, less likely, Audax) for the 2016 São Paulo Championship title at the Itaqueirão stadium.

Against São Bernardo, Cuca again made interesting alterations, both before and during the game. Starting with Barrios and Dudu on the bench, he betted on stronger creativity on the midfield with Arouca, Matheus Sales, Allione and Robinho, Alecsandro and Gabriel Jesus reversing as central target up front. Egídio once again had a great night and served up Alecsandro for the header that opened up the scorecard.

In the second half, a rather null Robinho was swapped for Dudu with 15 on the clock, Palmeiras maintaining superiority without exceling. Things improved a bit as Gabriel came on for Arouca. Then, with 15 minutes to go, we saw the debut of youngster Roger Guedes, recent arrival from Criciúma (more on this in a future post), replacing Alecsandro. The offensive trio was responsible for closing the scorecard, Dudu distributing to Guedes on the right flank, in velocity, where a precise cross from the newcomer found Gabriel Jesus. Alecsandro and Jesus are Palmeiras´top scorers in 2016, with nine braces each.
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Cuca, as mentioned, is experimenting with different setups. São Bernardo tired and pressing high in search for the equaliser, Cuca opted for speed, sacrificing his centrally positioned forward, placing Gabriel Jesus and Roger Guedes on each flank, with Dudu and Allione distributing. The formation immediately rendered results. The squad is assimilating Cuca well and will certainly benefit from the week of preparations ahead. Santos, on the other hand, have a Brazil Cup game on Thursday.

Sunday’s semi-final will be a tense affair: the rivalry between players have not died down since the Brazil Cup final last year, with players like Lucas Lima taking every opportunity to fire indirect, sarcastic remarks at Palmeiras on social media. In addition, the single game will be played at Santos’ home grounds Vila Belmiro, where Santos are increadibly strong, and without Palmeiras supporters allowed. Talk about hostile environment. The kind of environment that make the eyes of players like Dudu shine…

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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