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Yesterday, both São Paulo FC and Corinthians were eliminated from the Brazil Cup – the latter by Internacional of Porto Alegre, who today drew Palmeiras as opponent in the group of 16. First leg at the Allianz Parque in mid-May, second at the Beira Rio a week or two later. The dates mark Palmeiras’ entry into the tournament.

Right-defender Lucas Taylor is back at Palmeiras after having spent 2016 at Paraná and Criciúma, before playing the 2017 São Paulo championship for Red Bull. Palmeiras have kept a steady eye on the 22-year-old, raised at the club’s youth divisions. By the looks if it, Taylor has evolved enough to render him a space in the squad.

U17Speaking of the youth divisions, Palmeiras’ U17 and U18 both recently came out victorious from two international tournaments. The U17 bagged the Scopigno Cup, in Italy, beating Dynamo Kiev 2-0 in the final. Palmeiras midfielder Alan was elected best player of the tournament, Daniel was top scorer (4) and Artur Itiro was elected best coach. The other teams in the Scopigno tournament were Pescara, Rieti, Lazio, Cagliari, Zenit, Ternara, Teramo and L’Aquila.

U18Almost simultaneously, the Palmeiras U18 beat Croatian HNK Rijeka 2-1 to lift the Bellinzona trophy in Switzerland; an impressive feat by Palmeiras, as half of the U18 squad stayed in Brazil to compete in the U20 Brazil Cup. Defensive midfielder Matheus Neris was elected best player of the tournament. This was the third time Palmeiras won the Bellinzona tournament (2007 and 2016). Other teams included Grasshopper, Honved Budapest, Brøndby and Inter Milan.

In the last couple of weeks, Palmeiras extended the contract of three players in the youth divisions: aforementioned Matheus Neris (18) and Patrick (17) – both midfielders – and centre-back Fabrício (17). All three are now on contracts until end of 2018 and will play for Palmeiras U20.

Palmeiras have also announced the signing of forward Yan, from Vitória. The arrival of the promising 18-year-old is part of the arrangement that sealed Cleiton Xavier’s transfer from Palmeiras to Vitória at the beginning of the year. Yan comes as a loan until 31 January 2018, Palmeiras having the option to buy. Yan drew attention in 2015 as top scorer in Vitória’s successful U17 Brazil Cup campaign. He has also played for Brazil in youth competitions.

In addition to the aforementioned players, Palmeiras have strengthened the youth divisions with Chilean centre-back Diego González (from O’Higgins), midfielder Gabriel Menino (Guarani) and, from Paraná, centre-back Willian Galvão and defensive midfielder Gabriel Furtado.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Odds were not in Palmeiras’ favour, Santos parading a streak of 25 undefeated games at the Vila Belmiro. In the Paulistão, Santos were undefeated at home since 2011. Add to that a semi-final to be played before home supporters only.

Without Dudu and Allione, Cuca opted for young gun Roger Guedes and Robinho, with Matheus Sales and Gabriel providing cover. Sales did not have the best of afternoons and was directly involved in the two situations that lead up to Santos’ maintaining a seemingly comfortable lead with less than minutes to the final whistle. Rafael Marques, who had come on at 15 minutes of the second half and succeeded with nothing he tried, levelled the scorecard in less than two minutes, taking the decision to penalties. Unfortunately, Prass “only” grabbed one this time, while Rafael and Lucas Barrios missed theirs, seeing Santos through to the finals against Audax.
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Heads held high. Palmeiras continue to pay the price for the recent but necessary swapping of coaches, but not light-heartedly, fighting fate to the bitter end. Cuca now has three full weeks to evaluate the squad, trim it (the current 39 athletes should come down to 33-34) and negotiate a few reinforcements. A fullback and a right-back seem like priorities, and perhaps a playmaker: Cleiton Xavier’s recent comeback is promising but not even God knows if his long spell at the medical department has actually ended.

So, who might be leaving us? Likely candidates are fullbacks Nathan and Leandro Almeida, midfielders Fellype Gabriel and Régis, and forward Luan. Also Thiago Santos should be added to the list: oddly enough, one of last season’s most regular defensive midfielders doesn’t seem to please Cuca.

Already gone are right-winger Lucas Taylor and forward Gabriel Leite – both on loan to Criciúma until the end of the year as part of the deal to bring Roger Guedes. A total of five players might be involved in the swap, including abovementioned Nathan and Leandro Almeida. Taylor is a promising player from Palmeiras’ youth division, 21 years old, and should return more experienced to Palmeiras next year. Also Gabriel is 21, played for Paraná in 2016 and is a promising attacking midfielder. Both players have contracts with Palmeiras until 2019.

Roger-Guedes-Folhapress_2bac4d87c8Five players for Roger Guedes? That’s right. The 19-year-old, who arrived earlier this month from Criciúma, is not your average player, which was reinforced as he entered Palmeiras’ starting eleven already within weeks (true, in the absence of Dudu and Allione). The forward normally works the right side of the field, taking advantage of his speed and stature to quickly close in on the target or serve his companions. A very interesting signing, Guedes is.

Before signing off for tonight: youth division goalkeeper Daniel Fuzato has extended his contract with Palmeiras until end of 2018. At Palmeiras since 12 years of age, the athlete is currently living his best moment, integrating the Brazilian U20 National team since February. Fuzato turns 19 in July.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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