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Posts Tagged ‘marcelo oliveira’

applause
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Apologies for the delay. I needed some time to process recent events. Cool down a bit, stay objective and constructive.

The good news are that Palmeiras keep on winning, undergoing a speedy transformation in the hands of coach Cuca. The collective is clicking and individually, a number of players have in a matter of weeks metamorphosed into their heyday versions. Egídio is perhaps the best example: one of the most criticised players in the squad has turned into one of the best as of late, excelling in passes, crosses, turnovers and possession. In similar fashion, both Alecsandro and Gabriel Jesus are enjoying their new positioning and taking full advantage. Jean is growing on his right flank, with merit displacing Lucas onto the bench. No one imagined Cuca so quickly grasping the situation, implementing solutions and reaping results.

This is all good and sufficient in the Paulistão, where Palmeiras only depended, and depend, on their own strength. Last Sunday’s 2-1 away win against Mogi Mirim – goals by Alecsandro and Lucas Barrios – kept Palmeiras at the top of the group with the prize being a spot in the quarter-finals, first leg this upcoming Monday against São Bernardo. In the other quarter-finals,  Corinthians beat Red Bull Brasil, Santos beat São Bento and São Paulo play Audax tomorrow Sunday.

In the Libertadores Cup, Palmeiras defeated  River Plate 4-0 in an excellent display of offensive aggressiveness and focus, with Egídio, Allione twice and Alecsandro getting on the scorecard. Home supporters recognized the effort and Cuca’s importance, giving the squad a standing ovation at the final whistle, even though Palmeiras at that very moment also said goodbye to the competition due to Rosario Central beating Nacional 0-2, finishing first in the group with Nacional second. This was Palmeiras’ 16th Libertadores Cup and the fourth time the team is eliminated before reaching the knockout phase (previously in 1973, 1974 and 1979).
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Palmeiras eliminated, and this early, is of course a failure. We have discussed the sequence of events leading up to this, all the way from mid-2015: the swap as Oswaldo de Oliveira started to collect a few bad results and Marcelo Oliveira became available; Oliveira’s failure to convince but in the end bagging the Brazil Cup title and securing his stay at Palmeiras; the wobbly first months of 2016, keeping Palmeiras’ directors in a constant  keep-or-dismiss dilemma but with no strong replacement coach at hand; and finally, Oliveira’s dismissal and Cuca making himself available a tad too late to salvage the Libertadores campaign.

“Palmeiras hung on too long to Marcelo Oliveira”. Yes, perhaps. But Palmeiras tried to break a Brazilian paradigm, and a heavily criticised one, of firing the coach as soon as a handful of bad results occur. Marcelo Oliveira is Brazil’s most successful coach in the last 3-4 years. At Palmeiras he was given time, a more than decent amount of time, but he failed to improve. Perhaps Nobre and Mattos could have put more pressure on him, and earlier, but in the end, these are mere details: I sustain that Palmeiras, on the whole, did the right thing and acted coherently. Unfortunately, doing the right thing is no guarantee for success.
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Palmeiras are two games from deciding the São Paulo Cup title. Then the Brazilian championship kicks off, and the Brazil Cup. Cuca needs to get plenty of things right if Palmeiras are to win any of these titles. But the squad is qualified enough, and Cuca is qualified enough. Judging by the last couple of weeks, Palmeiras have every possibility to be a main contender in 2016.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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*picture credits: Cesar Greco

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MO.
Marcelo Oliveira did not resist yet another disappointing result and received the boot less than an hour after the 2-1 defeat to Nacional at Allianz Parque. Alexandre Mattos announced the club’s decision and that Alberto Valentim takes over as interim coach while Palmeiras look for Oliveira’s replacement. Cuca, who led Atlético Mineiro to the 2013 Libertadores Cup title, is heading the bets.

The staff brought in by Oliveira – assistants Tico dos Santos and Ageu, in addition to physical trainer Juvenilson Souza – are also out.

It is of course wrong to sack the coach smack in the middle of an ongoing Libertadores campaign. In hindsight, the moment would have been December last year, right after the Brazil Cup title. But how do you sack a coach who has been with you for less than six months, just brought you a national title, and who was Brazilian champion the two previous years? The answer is simple: you don’t.

Last year’s cup title came despite Palmeiras’ wobbly performance: determination and dedication were the decisive factors, just as in the 2012 campaign. Marcelo Oliveira was clearly struggling, but with few months heading the squad, the more than fair assessment was that he needed more time, and he got it. Three more months, and Palmeiras did not evolve. End of the line.

Marcelo led Palmeiras in 53 games, with 24 victories 11 draws and 18 defeats: 52% of points won.

It will be interesting to see how the squad responds. Derby on Sunday, Palmeiras visiting São Paulo FC.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Thursday’s convincing victory was perfectly timed. Just as perfectly untimed as yesterday’s defeat to Ferroviária. A disastrous way to kick off a sequel of four home games, including two crucial Libertadores Cup bouts.

Ferroviária once more showed why they are the positive surprise of this year’s Paulistão: very tactically obedient, in offense but particularly in defence, the team led by only 33-year-old Portuguese coach Sérgio Vieira (who has been three months with Ferroviária) was exemplarily compacted on the pitch, leaving little space for Palmeiras on the midfield. Palmeiras on the other hand were spread all over the place, making possession and passing difficult, just like in recent games. Dudu, Gabriel Jesus, and Robinho: a few individual attempts and that was it. Ferroviária certainly deserved a draw, but in the end managed to sneak away with the three points. Well done.
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For Marcelo Oliveira, it’s back to square one. Difference is, no one seems to have any patience left. Yesterday, players were seen cursing each other on the pitch. Dudu commented, “Palmeiras are losing because Ferroviária are very well trained”. Morale is clearly deteriorating, frustration taking its place. And perhaps not only frustration.  

Palmeiras have reached a point where lines are increasingly blurred. Does coach Oliveira, who has been working the squad for close to nine months now, see where the problems lie? Is he coming up with solutions? Are these implemented at training (some say they are, other say they aren’t)? Does the squad assimilate the training? If yes, why are we seeing only modest to no improvement during games? Since arriving at Palmeiras, Marcelo Oliveira has brought home 51% of disputed points – hardly a record to be proud of.

In Brazil, a coach goes from enjoying the unrestricted confidence of a club’s directors to ostracism in a couple of weeks. Defeat against Rosario Central on Thursday, and rest assured Marcelo Oliveira walks the plank. The Brazilian “solution” to a lifelong problem of the analysis stopping at “this ain’t working very well”, with the “why’s that so?” never properly addressed. No wonder a study carried out in March of 2015 by Mexican journal El Economico found that, in a ranking of football clubs that most times had swapped coaches between 2002 and 2014, the first six positions were occupied by Brazilian clubs: Fluminense (41), Náutico (39), Flamengo (38), Vitória (37), Atlético Paranaense (35) and Sport (33). Palmeiras would be much further down on the list (I haven’t done the math), but still… And mind you, these numbers are almost a year old by now.

The Allianz Parque will be full on Thursday. Hopefully to cheer our men on from start to finish and the night ending with Palmeiras securing three points. No matter what, winning games is never questionable. At least not in my book.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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ribolli.
Santos’ coach Dorival Junior was pleased after Saturday’s classic against Palmeiras at the Allianz Parque. “This was the team’s best performance this year, no doubt” he declared, adding that only Palmeiras keeper Prass had stood between Santos and the three points.

Fernando Prass did indeed have a splendid night, but the game wasn’t all that that Dorival saw, neither was Santos particularly superior: both teams created chances, as Marcelo Oliveira again tried something new, this time with Matheus Sales starting instead of Arouca. Using three more defence-oriented midfielders, as also against River Plate, might be an interesting option. Highlights below.
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Dorival has been at Santos since July 2015. His current squad is at large the same that lost the Brazil Cup final to Palmeiras. So far in 2016, Santos have played 5 games, computing 2 wins and 3 draws – 60% of possible points won.

In the last five years, Dorival has bagged one title: the Rio Grande do Sul state championship (the Gauchão), with Internacional.

Marcelo Oliveira has been at Palmeiras roughly the same time as Dorival at Santos, arriving in June of last year. He also works a similar squad as last year, although now with more options: six new players have arrived and most of these can enter a starting eleven. So far in 2016, Palmeiras compute six games, being 1 victory, 4 draws and 1 defeat: 39%.

In the last five years, Marcelo has won 3 state titles (the 2011-2012 Paranaense Championships with Coritiba and the 2014 Mineiro Championship with Cruzeiro) and 3 national titles (the 2013-2014 Brazilian Championships with Cruzeiro and the 2015 Brazil Cup with Palmeiras).

Palmeiras have played 4 games in the last 10 days. I repeat: 4 games in 10 days. The ignorant would say “well, that’s plenty of opportunities to get things right”. I refuse to comment.

Palmeiras have a good squad. In addition to Brazil’s currently most merited coach (might want to throw Tite in there as well). Naturally, expectations are high and Palmeiras are not meeting them. Not yet. I believe everything will suddenly fall into place, and in a manner that will surprise us all. Patience.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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The Libertadores Cup is indeed a different story altogether. Palmeiras supporters hoping the team would step up to the challenge – yours truly included – cannot complain: the Verdão had Tuesday’s away debut against River Plate in a firm grip and was ahead twice, but allowed a draw in the end. Stepping back and cooling down, not a bad result, but still with that lingering taste of disappointment: could and should have bagged the three.

Marcelo Oliveira’s starting eleven was a bit of a surprise, with Gabriel Jesus and Robinho falling out as Erik and Thiago Santos up positions. The full line-up read Fernando Prass; Lucas, Roger Carvalho, Vitor Hugo and Zé Roberto; Arouca (Robinho), Jean, Thiago Santos, Dudu and Erik (Gabriel Jesus); Barrios (Alecsandro). A shallow analysis says “defensive”, but Palmeiras was the opposite, the quality on the midfield protecting the centre-lock but also serving munition to the offence. Jean scored his first in the Palmeiras jersey and Gabriel Jesus – who came on for Erik in the second half – was elected man of the match after becoming the youngest player to score for Palmeiras in a Libertadores game.

The goals suffered can at large be blamed on individual errors and lacking attention: Prass did commit the penalty and both Jean and especially Alecsandro acted liked rookies on that corner.

Summing up: Palmeiras and Marcelo Oliveira seem to be on the right track. The attitude was different, the passing game slightly improved, the team a bit more compact.
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Two more things: the refereeing was abhorrent, inventing and reverting fouls from beginning to end and, needless to say, never in benefit of Palmeiras – all in true Libertadores-style. And the recent bull reverberating in a selected group of media vehicles about the squad being “divided”, that Marcelo Oliveira has lost the trust of the players, is just that: bull. Both before and after the games, players refuted the rumours, expressing complete confidence and unity regarding the work carried out.

All that will be needed against Santos on Saturday. A decent turn-up expected at the Allianz Parque.

— ooo —

moisesMidfielder Moisés got unlucky in his debut against Linense last Saturday. Actually, Palmeiras and palmeirenses alike got unlucky: the 2-1 defeat at home was painful. However, even more so for Moisés, who were stepped upon, resulting in a broken foot. With a recovery time of 3-4 months, he has been cut from the Libertadores squad, Rodrigo being the last minute replacement.

Neither Leandro Almeida has been included in the Libertadores squad; he clearly burnt his last bridge with the coach against São Bento. Young Nathan, who was speculated to integrate Bahia’s squad, receives the opportunity of a lifetime.

Finally, a few words about our Allianz Parque “partner” WTorre, going from bad to worse. The most recent news is that WTorre and AEG, the leading international sports and entertainment company, have parted ways. AEG claims WTorre owes them money, while WTorre claims AEG is inefficient in bringing in revenues (events, sponsors, etcetera) to the Allianz Parque. I refrain from commenting further.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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wolvesA goalless draw yesterday against Oeste, and pressure is again on the rise. Coach Oliveira agrees that Palmeiras are not performing as expected. That’s rather obvious, but it’s still good that he acknowledges it, as acknowledging is the first step towards correcting. Not that we should be worried, not yet at least: in my book, Oliveira has plenty of credit. Nevertheless, the wolves have started moving about and this year, Oliveira has no excuse falling back on: the squad is basically last year’s with a few additions; he knows the players well; training conditions are top notch; salaries paid on time. He has to make it work.

Palmeiras’ focus now is on next Tuesday’s Libertadores debut, away, against River Plate of Uruguay. Hence, a mixed team is expected against Linense on Saturday. This will be the season’s first game at the Allianz Parque, and more than 15K tickets have been sold already. Midfielder Moisés is expected to make his debut, which is something to look forward to: he made a good impression participating in the pre-seasonal mini-tournament in Uruguay last month.

The Allianz Parque has been equipped with new grass. It’s actually the same sort of grass, but apparently with better roots and in a shape that permits easy swapping of patches, if needed. WTorre claims having invested R$ 1 million (US$ 250K) in getting the new pitch ready. Let’s hope this time it holds up – last year was a disgrace. We can’t have Palmeiras playing home games at other venues while the Allianz Parque grass recovers after a show.

Speaking of WTorre, our “partner” seems to be in trouble not only with Palmeiras, but also with all other partners and subcontractors in sight. Lagging payments, unexecuted services… There are plenty of lawsuits piling up against WTorre, all linked to the Allianz Parque and how it’s run.

Now Palmeiras’ official stores, part of the “Academia Store” franchising model, are doing very well, thank you very much. Currently with 23 establishments – all located in the state of São Paulo except for one unit, in the state of Paraná – the franchise recently celebrated three years of operations. Another 14 units are expected to open in 2016.

Anything Palmeiras was featured in two interviews recently, one in Portuguese and one in English. They turned out rather well, if you ask me. Below, the links, in case you’re interested.

Esporte Final (on the “Lance!” web portal) and BettingRunner.

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The eleven stepping onto the pitch may all wear the same jersey, but they live by very different sets of rules.

Forwards are irreverent, creative, unpredictable creatures. Lead singers, always searching the spotlights. They fail repeatedly before getting it right, being graced with the ultimate reward: a goal and roars from the stands.

On the opposite extreme, the keeper and central defenders. They are all about predictability and stability. Drummers, setting the foundation. In a perfect world, they perform consistently, almost mechanically, never failing. In a perfect world, that is.

You cannot have a drummer messing things up in a band. Similarly, when a keeper or central defender starts failing… A squad without faith in its keeper sooner rather than later turns into a mesh of fear and anxiety. There is but one way to revert the situation: removing the bad apple.

An absolute majority of Palmeiras supporters wished centre-back Leandro Almeida out of the squad as it reunited for the 2016 season. Coach Oliveira, who knows the player well and in 2015 requested his arrival from Coritiba, seemed determined to give him another chance. With Vítor Hugo and Edu Dracena spending time in the medical department, Almeida got his shot at redemption and was doing rather fine. That is, up until last Thursday, when Palmeiras drew 2-2 at home to São Bento.
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The silly error is one thing, Almeida losing his head is another. He tried to clear another ball and failed miserably. He showed his studs and was booked. Almeida clearly felt the pressure.

At the press conference after the game, coach Oliveira admitted Almeida needed some time away from the pitch, homing his skills. That could, and should, read “pack your bags son, we’re looking for a club to host you for the remainder of the season”. Keeping in mind Almeida’s contract with Palmeiras runs until mid-2019… Talk about a wet firecracker.
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