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Posts Tagged ‘marcos assunção’

In the last match of the group stage in the Copinha, Palmeiras beat Barueri 3-1 and advanced to the knockout phase together with 31 other teams. Tomorrow night, it’s do or die – as it obviously will be all the way to the finals – against Desportivo Brasil from the city of Porto Feliz in the interior of São Paulo. In case of a draw, penalty shootout.

So far, centre-back Luiz Gustavo has made the strongest impression on me.

— ooo —

From tears to all smiles, Marcos Assunção signed a one-year contract with Santos at the end of last week, making the veteran midfielder the seventh player to arrive at Santos pre 2013 season. Assunção certainly accepted a smaller pay check than what he demanded from Palmeiras a week ago, but such is life. He gambled a bit, hoping that Palmeiras would reward him for previous achievements, but stepped on a mine. With Santos immediately being responsive, Assunção decided to “return home” after 14 years. It will certainly feel a bit strange eventually watching the charismatic player setting up the ball against our side.

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It’s no secret that coach Kleina’s biggest need right now is for more centre-backs, as only Henrique and Maurício Ramos are available. While awaiting the Torres negotiation to conclude, Kleina has promoted 21-year-old Marcos Vinícius from the second team. The kid is tall, 190 centimetres, and has frequently been in the second team line-up. If Marcos continues to cause a good impression, he might be sticking around at least for the São Paulo Championship that kicks off the 20th of this month.

— ooo —

While the Palmeiras youth are busy with the Copinha, the first team have a couple of friendlies on their schedule. The first one took place yesterday – gates closed – against São Caetano and Palmeiras won 2-1 after penalties converted by Barcos and Maikon Leite. After the game, the São Caetano coach told reporters that the impression he had of Palmeiras was a tactically disciplined team with a solid defence and fast counter-attacks.

What the São Caetano coach thought of messieurs Tirone and Frizzo – also present at the game – we will never know. I prefer not voicing my opinion, for more than obvious reasons. Thank God the countdown for the ending of their turn is in the single digits.
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Frizzo&Tirone— ooo —
Palmeiras today received a call from Riquelme’s agent Daniel Bolotnicoff, but not with a yes or a no. The Argentine midfielder requests a (second) visit to Buenos Aires from a high-level Palmeiras representative to once again be assured that Palmeiras have serious intention both in regard to his own future and in forming a competitive squad for 2013. According to the agent, Riquelme “is inclined” to accept Palmeiras’ offer.

Tomorrow Tuesday we’ll know what step Palmeiras’ directors will take. Stay tuned on twitter (@anypalmeiras) for latest news and gossip.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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After a painfully slow negotiation process, it has been revealed that Marcos Assunção no longer will be pulling on the Palmeiras jersey. The set piece specialist and team captain’s contract expired on 31 December with negotiations entering into the first week of the new year. In the end, the parties failed to meet on the issue of a rather hefty pay raise asked by the 36-year-old midfielder.

palmeiras-de-juninho-e-marcos-assuncaoAssunção arrived at Palmeiras in 2010 and played a total of 145 games, scoring 31 times and assisting in an additional 38 efforts. A key player for Palmeiras in 2011 and 2012, he led the team to triumph in the Brazil Cup of last year, embodying the spirit of union, perseverance and dedication.

Palmeiras lose a highly respected professional and a deadly weapon. On the other hand, Assunção’s trailing physique (although much above average considering his age) and less than stellar marking capacities always were the flip side, in certain ways forcing the team to mould itself around Assunção and become dependent on him. With Assunção’s exit, we can expect a pacier and more aggressive Palmeiras midfield.

Without having insider information on the negotiations as such, I’d say Assunção got a bit carried away by the numbers and overestimated his importance, leading him to believe he deserved much more than the monthly US$ 125K he was making, perhaps comparing himself to wet firecracker Valdivia. However, with presidential elections approaching and Palmeiras’ financial difficulties becoming clearer, the club’s Fiscal Council stepped in and dramatically reduced the director’s room for manoeuvre. Assunção – always expressing a wish for ending his career at Palmeiras – apparently wasn’t prepared to retreat, or at least not retreat as much as needed to secure a new, one-year contract. My personal guess is that no other club will match his asking price, nor that Assunção has any genuine drive to start all over at another club. I believe his footballing career has come to an end.

It is worth repeating that Assunção has been a role model and an example both on and off the pitch, always respecting Palmeiras, always representing Palmeiras. For the right price I would have liked to see him one more season in our colours. Then again, perhaps now was the right time to leave, on top, with prestige. In any case, Anything Palmeiras salute a great athlete and a great man, a worthy representative of Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras. Fare well, Marcos Assunção!
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Update: Assunção just held a press conference and – for the first time – gave his side of the story. Clearly unhappy with the situation and in tears during certain moments, he lamented Palmeiras’ decision and regretted that it had come to this. Assunção considers a raise (although apparently smaller than speculated in the media) to be in order due to his dedication and importance for the team (external sources say Assunção and directors agreed on roughly US$ 150K + bonuses) but as we now know, it was all shot down by the Financial Council.

Toward the end, an interesting and touching opening: “I wish to remain. As long as there’s nothing else settled (with any other team, my clarification), I’m open for negotiations, even with Palmeiras. I’m without a job and saying my goodbyes, but the phone can ring and a contract can be signed. Life consists of decisions. We have to work where we are happy and I was happy at Palmeiras.”

— ooo —

We live in times where players think twice before signing with Palmeiras. Having one of last year’s most valued players cry when unable to renew a contract is rather extraordinary. Assunção is not desperate, nor in financial crisis: he genuinely has bonded with Palmeiras and the supporters, wishes to stay and wishes to contribute to the ascension of the club. This has to be very carefully evaluated.

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With  a fever and a clogged up face – in addition to being slightly bitter about the bad results in every game this round except for Corinthians vs. Bahia – I’ll be giving you nothing but the highlights from Saturday’s Palmeiras 2-0 Cruzeiro.

Marcos Assunção is out there even with the hurting knee. Hernán Barcos sees no rest but displays splendid technique and extraordinary dedication. Actually, every single player is showing dedication and team spirit. We’re not going down. We’re four points behind Bahia with six rounds to go. We’re not going down.
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On Tuesday Palmeiras are in Bogotá to take on Millonarios in the return game of the South America Cup. The first leg ended 3-1 to Palmeiras. Let’s keep it simple.

Avanti Palestra!

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It’s common football knowledge that teams normally respond well to a new coach, at least in the first round or two. It’s also pretty safe to assume that Kleina’s influence on the squad during the two and a half days available to him must be considered small to minimal. Nevertheless…

Against Figueirense, the starting eleven consisted of Bruno; Corrêa, Maurício Ramos, Thiago Heleno and Juninho; Henrique, Marcos Assunção, Márcio Araújo and Valdivia; Maikon Leite and Barcos. No surprises there. Arroz com feijão, as a Brazilian would say. However, there were minor changes (Barcos without his beard) and major improvements (Maikon Leite without that ridiculous turd-mohawk hairdo of his). And as soon as the ball started rolling, the change in attitude was perceived: fearlessness, determination, aggressiveness. Perhaps the clearest indicator of this was Palmeiras not relaxing even after having scored twice within ten minutes of kick-off. Importantíssimo. There’s hope for the remainder of the championship.
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Hope and determination was also words used by uncontested captain Marcos Assunção after the game. “As long as there’s a shiver of hope, I’m fighting, we’re fighting. I we have to give our lives, we’ll give our lives”.

Palmeiras have never been a place for the weak. Now, it’s rather unusual for a player to chicken out in the manner as midfielder João Vítor did earlier this week, asking for a time out due to “having received threats” after making a crucial error that led to Corinthians’ second goal last week. He didn’t travel to Florianópolis to face Figueirense. As far as I’m concerned, he shouldn’t travel anywhere at all, neither ever again wear the Palmeiras jersey. In fact, it seems as this might be the most likely scenario, considering that João Vítor’s contract with Palmeiras expires 31 December. Ciao!

Speaking of cowards: in contrast to practice, vice-president Frizzo didn’t travel to Florianópolis, neither did any other director. Thus no one was present to represent Palmeiras at the highest level. Under normal circumstances this would be unadvisable. Considering that this was the first game of our new coach, nothing short of a disgrace. Shame on you, Frizzo. Shame.   

Palmeirenses yesterday supported their team and today must side against Flamengo, Bahia and Coritiba: to diminish the gap to these three is key no matter what.

Our next game is this coming Saturday against Ponte Preta – coach Gilson Kleina’s former club – at the Pacaembu. After that, Palmeiras prepare for the first leg against the Colombian team Millonarios in the South America Cup group of 16.

Avanti Palestra!

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There’s no end to the pain. Right-winger Artur and defensive midfielder Márcio Araújo with muscle fatigue, playmaker Daniel Carvalho and forward Maikon Leite with ruptures in their respective left thighs, forward Luan recovering from a injury to his right thigh, midfielder Wesley on his long way back after his knee surgery. Six right there. Add the casualty from Sunday’s game: Valdivia feeling his left thigh (no you don’t get a prize for correct answer). Seven. Then, the latest shockers: Assunção will indeed need a knee arthroscopy and 30 days of recovery after that. Sounds bad? Try this: left-winger and recent playmaker fill-in Fernandinho tore his left knee apart during Saturday’s practice session, today underwent four hours of surgery and is expected back in 8 MONTHS. That’s nine players out. As you’ve noticed, several of them long-term.

With the above scenario, Scolari might not even have enough athletes to fill the bench tomorrow against Botafogo. Worse: with Valdivia, Carvalho and Fernandinho out, who’s the playmaker tomorrow and in the future? Patrik? Mazinho? A retracted Obina? As Scolari seems reluctant to use players from the youth academy, these could very well be our options. Not that it would do much difference in the South America Cup: the younger prospects are not enlisted in the competition anyway. And with the international transfer window closed and most (decent) first division players having already completed seven games in this year’s Brasileirão

Palmeiras’ directors think they have found the answer: 22-year-old Jaílton. The midfielder is rumoured to arrive soon at Palmeiras, leaving 2nd division Avaí where he’s currently warming the bench. Yes, that’s right. And it gets even scarier: apparently our directors are ready to cough up US$ 1.2 million for only 50 per cent of the federative rights of the player. Reckless, if it indeed goes through; the deal’s yet to be confirmed and could be nothing but a smoke screen. God, have it be a smoke screen.

Avanti Palestra!

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It was a weird clássico, starting with the low numbers in the stands – 7.500 – although we should be used to the “buruerisation” by now. The game kicked off in high gear and the trigger-happy referee immediately started distributing bookings left and right. After the initial Flamengo blitz, Palmeiras started controlling the action, dominating the midfield and distributing the ball well out into the flanks. With 30 minutes of play Ibson received his second yellow (kicking Valdivia one time too many) and hit the showers. It was really a walk in the park after that, although one would have wished for the superiority to transcend into numbers. But the truth is Flamengo never threatened Bruno and Palmeiras never really bothered too much with extending the lead after Barcos netted shortly after Ibson’s premature exit.

Palmeiras yesterday were represented by Bruno; Artur, Thiago Heleno, Maurício Ramos and Juninho; Henrique, Marcos Assunção (Márcio Araújo, HT), Patrik and Valdivia; Mazinho (Fernandinho – 21’/2nd H) and Barcos (Obina – 40’/2nd H). Scolari was again up in the stands paying his sins.
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The three points came at a good time and lifted the Verdão out of the relegation zone. Sunday’s opponent are Atlético Goianense, a team on the rise but nevertheless in the bottom of the tables. Anything but another three points would be a disappointment.

— ooo —

Speaking of disappointments… Although not officially confirmed (and probably never will be), defensive midfielder João Vítor has been fined for showing up for practice on Monday under the influence of alcohol. He was immediately sent home but participated as normal on Tuesday’s training sessions. Barred from yesterday’s game, he should be available on Sunday. Some say his days at Palmeiras are numbered, but I wouldn’t think so. If this was an isolated event, there’s no reason to raise hell: just fine the guy and keep him on the tight leash. If it wasn’t, he should first and foremost be offered professional help.

Another piece of bad news concerns Marcos Assunção, who stepped out in halftime yesterday due to pains in the right knee. The medic’s department has now given him an additional two weeks of rehab; if the tendinitis doesn’t get better, surgery is the way out. The procedure is simple and the recovery time something like 15-30 days, but as Assunção’s no kid… He’s always said there are two factors that will determine if he’ll continue playing football next year: the possibility to participate in the Libertadores Cup and him staying healthy. Another important detail: Assunção has not yet reached an agreement with Palmeiras regarding numbers for a new contract: apparently the set piece specialist is asking for quite a lot. Now, the tendinitis doesn’t really work in his favour.   

There’s one more thing that could potentially trouble Assunção: the return of Correa. You might remember the midfielder from his previous passage through Palmeiras 2003-2006, when he played 192 games and scored 15 goals. In 2006 he transferred to Dynamo Kiev and had a few good years there, but lately things have not worked out quite as well and Correa has been on loan both to Flamengo and Atlético/MG before returning to Dynamo in 2011. Last month he terminated his contract with the club, which allowed him to transfer to Palmeiras without any costs involved. Yesterday he passed the medical exams and then signed for the rest of the year.

Correa is a shot in the dark. Amusingly, he’s now the player in the squad with most games in the Palmeiras jersey. Still, don’t expect too much. And let’s for heaven’s sake hope his agent – the infamous Mr Dioguardi – stays far, far back in the shadows.

AVANTI PALESTRA!

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Not a fatalist, but sometimes you get the feeling that the time has come, no matter what. That the frustrations of 15 million are soon to be released. Even with the referees yanking Henrique from the first of the final games, even with Hernán Barcos waking up on D-day with an acute appendicitis (he was operated yesterday afternoon and is fine, but will be absent for 6-8 weeks). This Copa do Brasil title must be ours and it will be remembered as the title that came against all and everything.

Palmeiras yesterday were Bruno; Artur, Maurício Ramos, Thiago Heleno and Juninho; Márcio Araújo, Marcos Assunção, João Vitor and Valdivia; Mazinho (Maikon Leite 35’/2nd H) and Betinho. How the Verdão didn’t suffer a goal or two in the first half is beyond me, as Coritiba dominated completely and wasted more chances than I care to remember. It’s absolutely true that Bruno was monstrous between the posts, but that’s only part of the explanation. Coritiba should have scored. But they didn’t. Instead, Valdivia opened up the scorecard at the very end of the first half, converting a penalty dubiously granted to Betinho after getting tangled up with a Coritiba defender. The home crowd, passionately supporting the team from beginning to end, sensed victory.

Coritiba initiated the second half better than Palmeiras and the pressure was on yet again, but the Verdão managed it better this time and the few chances created by the opponent were not nearly as dangerous as in the first half. The bucket of cold water for Coxa came after a free kick by Assunção, deflected on the back of Lincoln before headed by Thiago Heleno into the back of the net. 2-0 and the stadium exploded.

Coritiba fell through and Palmeiras could easily have decided the title there and then but Valdivia – who has a serious problem of dosing his intensity – received his second yellow after elbowing an adversary and was sent off, jeopardising the monstrous result constructed until then. Luckily, Coritiba had little strength left to pull off a comeback ad the last 15 minutes, although nervous, did never present any real danger.
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Yes, the result was monstrous. The two goals advantage is strong but equally important was denying Coritiba any goals: scoring one goal at the return game at the Couto Pereira stadium will force Coritiba to net four times.

It’s a shame we can’t count on Valdivia in the final game (again: what a STUPID move) but we have playmaker Daniel Carvalho (might even be the better option due to the nature of the coming game, with Coritiba forced to pressure hard and Palmeiras needing a strong defence and patience to explore the opportunities for rapid counter-attacks with Maikon Leite) and also Henrique back.

Things are looking good but rest assured the return game will be total war. Stay positive but no commemorations: palmeirenses have waited 14 years for a national title and we can wait another week.

AVANTI PALESTRA!
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