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A Saint cast in bronze

The number 12 is at Palmeiras eternally linked with Marcos, the world-class keeper who retired from the Club in 2012. Last Saturday, the 12 December, at 12 o’clock, a crowd gathered at the Allianz Parque as a bust was unveiled in his honour. “São Marcos”, today 42, defended Palmeiras for 20 years and acquired the respect and admiration from palmeirenses and non-palmeirenses alike.

Marcos is the fifth player to be awarded a bust by the Club: Oberdan Cattani, Ademir da Guia, Junqueira and Waldemar Fiúme are the previously graced. 
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dudu.
The Dudu novella has come to an end. Neither a two games’ suspension (like Corinthian’s Petrus received for a similar violation in late 2014), neither a 180-days ban like the Tribunal for Sports initially sentenced: Palmeiras recently reached an agreement with the Tribunal and a six-game ban was settled. Dudu, who had already served two games, was thus left out of yesterday’s game against Figueirense and will not see action in any of the upcoming three in the Brazilian championship: Fluminense (away), Grêmio (home) and  São Paulo (away). Dudu is however available for games in the Brazil Cup, as the ban only applies to the Brasileirão.

While Dudu is fit but unavailable, Cleiton Xavier is a different story: recovering from a thigh injury, he recently felt discomfort in one of his calves. No telling when he’ll be back on the pitch. Xavier, one of those expected to compensate for Valdivia’s exit, is unfortunately on his way to mimic the Chilean in less fortunate ways.

Fernando Prass is on another path. The most undisputed player in the starting eleven, our #1 recently made his way into the top 10 of keepers with most games in the Palmeiras jersey. Prass says he has basically accepted Palmeiras’ proposal for a renewal of his contract and if he keeps the pace up, he could perhaps give Gilmar a fight for seventh place. Below, the full list.

1) Leão: 618 games
2) Marcos: 532 games
3) Valdir de Morais: 481 games
4) Velloso: 455 games
5) Oberdan: 351 games
6) Sérgio: 334 games
7) Gilmar: 289 games
8) Primo: 175 games
9) Fernando Prass: 137 games (as of 13 September 2015)
10) Jurandyr: 133 games

As previously reported, the unparalleled Marcos, keeper with the second most appearances for Palmeiras, will see a bust uncovered in his honour at the Allianz Parque. The date has now been announced: 12 of December – considered by palmeirenses as the day of Saint Marcos. The list of players previously graced with a bust is restricted: Ademir da Guia, Waldemar Fiúme, Junqueira and Oberdan Catani.

Speaking of the Allianz Parque: Palmeiras’ next home game against Grêmio will not take place in our stadium, as on the same night, Saturday 19 September, there’s a Rod Stewart show on. The following Friday, Katy Perry gets the spotlights. Depending on the conditions of the pitch after the Perry gig, Palmeiras might be forced to play also the second leg of the Brazil Cup quarterfinals, against Internacional, at the Pacaembu.

There are five full days between Perry’s show and the game against Inter. Shouldn’t the technology used at the most modern arena in Latin America permit a full recovery of the grass in such a period of time? What say you, WTorre?  

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Treats are scarce. Allione has arrived but due to the Argentine Football Federation being in mourning, his documents weren’t ready in time for him to play today against Bahia. It’s possible – even probable – that Allione would have positively changed the outcome of the clash. Matters little no: based on what was on the pitch, the draw was both just and utterly disappointing.
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Alarms are going off loud and clear: not only the offensive was weak, but the defence was shakier than ever. If we can’t beat penultimate positioned Bahia, who can we beat? Palmeiras are currently 14th in the tables, only three points from the relegation zone.

— ooo —

So, no treats. What about tricks? Ah, well, that’s a different story altogether, as there will always be tricks when our own favourite trickster Valdivia is involved.

“Our own”? Didn’t Valdivia sign with Al Fujairah some two weeks ago? No, he didn’t. He went there, but then… went up in smoke. His parents even picked up the phone and called Palmeiras a few days back, “worried” because they didn’t know about their son’s whereabouts. Right. Like they haven’t see any of the several selfies published by palmeirenses with Valdivia at Disneyland. Or the pictures Valdivia’s wife has been publishing, for that matter.

Valdivia’s contract with Palmeiras is still valid. He hasn’t signed with another club. Nor is he coming back to Palmeiras. There’s obviously more to this story than meets the eye, but this is not the moment for disclosure. In due time, in due time… I’m just saying this: if you, palmeirense, have any affection for him, rest assured he doesn’t deserve it.

— ooo —

Speaking of deserving: Louis Abe, our “consul” in New York and New Jersey, certainly has every reason to be proud of the tremendous success that was the Casa Palmeiras – New Jersey edition.
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More than 200 people – mostly palmeirenses but also supporters of other clubs – came to the chosen restaurant to meet with former Palmeiras keeper Marcos and watch the derby against Corinthians. The event had the backing of Palmeiras Tour and the club’s marketing division, but Louis was instrumental in the process from start to finish. Parabéns!

UPDATE: Parabéns also to Marcos, today celebrating his 41th birthday. And take note now: Marcos and I share not only the same birth year, but also the same hight (193cm – 6ft 4in).

— ooo —

There’s another gentlemen deserving his parabéns: masseur Sérgio Luís de Oliveira, pictured below in the centre. Serginho has been working at Palmeiras since 1998 and was last Wednesday called up by new national coach Dunga to be part of the Brazilian team. Although Serginho has previous experience with national squads – volleyball – the draft came as a pleasant surprise to him.
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serginho.
Serginho’s first assignment will be in September, when he will cater for the athletes at two friendly games – against Colombia on the 5th and against Ecuador on the 9th – both games to be played in the US (Miami and New Jersey, respectively).

— ooo —

In the previous post, I forgot to mention the launch of a fourth commemorative jersey, used by the squad for the first time in the game against Fiorentina.
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azzurra.
This model has (surprise surprise) been named “Azzurra“, paying homage to Palmeiras’ Italian roots and the Italian national squad.

— ooo —

Last Saturday, Fiorentina beat Peruvian side Universitário 1-0, securing the EuroAmerican Cup to the Old World for the second time out of two.

— ooo —

And that’s all for today. As always, keeping the faith.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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It’s not about celebrating defeat but being able to acknowledge, even in the haze of disappointment and frustration, that Palmeiras are evolving.

In a nightmarish Brazil-vs-Germany-2014-World-Cup déjà-vu, Palmeiras allowed Cruzeiro to get two balls past Fábio early in the first half, before reacting, surprisingly well, and dominate for the rest of the game. The term “justice” is always inappropriate in sports, but Palmeiras did indeed deserve at least a draw against the current leader of the Brazilian championship. The weak spot, again, was the absence of a true playmaker; although many passes reached Diogo and especially Henrique, both blowing chances they are not entitled to blow. Watch the Palmeiras 1-2 Cruzeiro highlights and imagine three solid players arriving to reinforce, and you just might get your hopes up.
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“Three solid players arriving to reinforce”? you might sneer. “So, where are they?” True: if you solely hang on to president Paulo Nobre’s declarations in the media, not much give you the right to be optimistic. Nevertheless, reinforcements are arriving. Starting with Agustín Allione.

The midfielder yesterday announced he’s on his way to Palmeiras. Vélez Sarsfield is letting the 19-year-old from both Vélez’s and the Argentine U20 national squad’s startn_velez_sarsfield_agustin_allione-4960170ing eleven go for just under US$ 1.2 2.7 million. The kid is expected to sing a four-year contract with the Verdão and he’s excited about it: on twitter and facebook, he’s already expressing his expectations and thanking Palmeiras supporters for all encouraging messages received during the day. On the other side of the scale, Vélez supporters are profoundly lamenting he’s leaving: a good sign if any. If everything goes as planned, Gareca might be inclined to use Allione already on Sunday in the derby against Corinthians.

But Gareca cannot focus on the derby quite yet, as Palmeiras tomorrow take on Avaí for the Brazil Cup. Lúcio, who on Sunday suffered a small fracture to his face after smashing it against the skull of Cruzeiro defender Manoel, is out; unless some kind of Jason-esque mask could be provided, he misses Sunday’s derby as well. Apart from Lúcio, all the squad’s main pieces are available but Gareca has opted for resting many of the players that were on against Cruzeiro, including Mendieta, Tobio and Wendel. In the training session before leaving for Florianópolis this afternoon, no less than eight players were different from Sunday’s starting eleven. Gareca has also promised more emphasis on set piece defence, as Palmeiras suffered goals both against Santos and Cruzeiro in that manner. Against Avaí, a victory is essential to boost confidence ahead of Sunday’s clash. In addition, a victory by a margin of two goals eliminates the need for a return game.

— ooo —

You a palmeirense living in or anywhere near the state of New Jersey? You wondering how and where to watch the Corinthians vs. Palmeiras derby?

Your place is at Casa Palmeiras!

Traditionally, Palmeiras promotes events around Brazil called Casa Palmeiras (Palmeiras’ House), where fans can get together to watch important games, check out trophies, memorabilia and chat with former Palmeiras player. As part of the centenary celebration, Palmeiras are innovating and will host, for the first time ever, a Casa Palmeiras outside of Brazil. The event takes place in Newark, New Jersey, at the Boi na Brasa & Grill. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to meet with representatives from Palmeiras’ marketing department, take picture of the 2012 Brazil Cup trophy and chat with a former Palmeiras player!

OK, let me spice that up a bit for your: come chat with none other than legendary keeper São Marcos!

For more details, check out the flyer below or contact Louis Abe – Palmeiras’ representative in the US – at phuinha@gmail.com or 732-673-6982.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
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Today, we’re shooting rapids. Ready?

Palmeiras keeper Deola, on loan to Vitória, is not renewing his contract with the Bahia club; his 2014 whereabouts are unclear but there’s no indication he’ll play for the Verdão coming season.

Fernandinho’s heading back to Oeste, who in turn are returning Diego Souza to Palmeiras. Other likely returns include Patrick Vieira and Mazinho.

Former first, then second keeper Bruno is likely to leave, destination unknown.  So is right-winger Luis Felipe, destined for Benfica unless anything goes wrong in the last minute.

Palmeiras have entered the transfer market in high gear, although little of it is out in the press and nothing’s been formally announced; speculations include midfielder Elano (Grêmio), also midfielder Lucas Lima (Sport/Inter), right-winger Jorge Moreira (Libertad/PAR), also right-winger Stefan Medina (Atlético Nacional/COL), left-winger Uendel (Ponte Preta) and forward Rafael Sóbis (Fluminense). Negotiations seemingly most advanced is with attacking midfielder Bruno César (Al Ahli/SA).

As you will notice, several of the speculations involve foreigners: the CBF are likely to announce a modification to current regulations, raising the allowed number of foreign players on the pitch from three to five.  

Palmeiras are in contact with investment groups and companies in search of partners for signing players.

[Regarding the transfer market, am I optimistic? I want to be, but must admit that the unchanged situation regarding Palmeiras’ master sponsorship and the dragged out procedure that led up to the renovation of Kleina left me worried. Good names must put pen to paper as of next week, when the Brasileirão ends.]

Today Friday, a new round of negotiations takes place between Palmeiras and WTorre aimed at a friendly solution solving the dispute regarding number of seats destined to each of the parties for commercialisation at the Allianz Parque. If bad comes to worse, the case proceeds to the Getúlio Vargas Foundation’s Board of Conciliation and Arbitration.

This week, Palmeiras initiated construction on the new training facilities, partially to stand ready in mid 2014. By early 2015, the facilities will also include a “hotel”, where players and staff will gather before home games. Roughly 80% of the construction costs are paid for by the “Fundo Brahmeiro” (refresh your memory here).

Busto_São_MarcoMarcos recently approved the cast for the bust that will be featured at the Allianz Parque together with the current other three (Junqueira, Waldemar Fiúme and Ademir da Guia). Oberdan Cattani will join the quartet in the close future. By the look of it, we’ll indeed have a very life-like copy on display.

On Tuesday, six consiglieri were elected into Palmeiras’ Deliberative Council – for life. Each and every one of perpetual counsellors represent a step back in terms of modernisation of the club’s archaic and faulty political/administrative structure. Hopefully, this was a last thrust by the regressive forces before the statuary changes due in 2014.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

 

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comemoracao-palmeiras-marceloprado2.
Yesterday, Palmeiras convincingly beat Ceará 4-1 (goals by Eguren – his first, Charles, Alan Kardec and Leandro), severely reducing the chances of the opponent to finish the season in the top four. Chapecoense are already there and Sport, due to yesterday’s away victory over Boa Esporte, idem.  Thus, only one spot remains before the final round, with three teams on equal score: Figueirense, Icasa and Ceará. Last of the three, only Ceará plays at home, but against difficult seventh-placed Joinville. Also, Ceará are two victories short in comparison to Figueirense and Icasa. I believe Figueirense are able to bag three points against uninterested Bragantino and secure ascension, regardless of Icasa beating Paraná or not.

Before yesterday’s game, Palmeiras’ directors resumed talks with coach Kleina, presenting a slightly improved offer: instead of his current R$ 300K/month (roughly US$ 130K) he’s been offered R$ 180K in addition to hefty bonuses if achieving pre-set goals (i.e. win titles). In order to reach these goals, Nobre has promised Kleina several reinforcements. And apparently, Nobre intends to implement the same model (lower salaries, attractive bonuses) on newly arriving players and on those in the process of renegotiating their expiring contracts. That second group consists of no less than 13 players, including Patrick Vieira and Mazinho, who are returning from Japan, as the second division season in the land of the rising sun yesterday came to an end.

“Where I come from, this is common practice”, explains club president Paulo Nobre. “Above all, it’s a question of dividing responsibilities. Today, everybody benefits when the club wins, but only the club carries the burdens of defeat.” Nobre is aware that the model will be challenged, not least due to the risk of Palmeiras losing players to rivalling teams that are ready to pay more. Still, he’s convinced that it’s the best way to administer things in the long run.

Coach Kleina seemed very sceptical at first, even offended, but a change of mind can now be detected. “Who knows… This is a new concept. One needs to look into this, understand how it works” he told reporters after yesterday’s game. Also Nobre seem again confident the club will reach an agreement with Kleina. Chances seem fairly good a new contract will be signed in the meeting scheduled for coming Tuesday.

— ooo —

While Palmeiras lifted a trophy, Anything Palmeiras didn’t: the LFC Fans Corner blog – a Liverpool FC blog run by ten lads spread throughout the World – proved too hard a nut to crack, receiving the “Best Football Club Blog” award in the 2013 FBAs. Our sincere congratulations to the winners.

THANK YOU all palmeirenses who voted: even though we didn’t muster the bi-championship, in one way or the other we contributed to place Palmeiras on the map.

— ooo —

As of this week, the documentary “Santo Marcos” go up on screens for those lucky enough to be in São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, Campinas, Londrina or Maringá (last two in the state of Paraná). For now, the rest of us can nothing but watch the official trailer, over and over again.
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Almost a footnote: next Saturday afternoon Palmeiras make the season’s last appearance against Chapecoense, in the state of Santa Catarina.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Catching up on last week’s events is a more than joyful exercise, as Palmeiras’ engine is running smoothly on so many levels. It’s been many years without such apparent tranquillity in the squad, backstage, even [sic] in the press.

Palmeiras 2-1 Bragantino
Last Friday, Palmeiras bagged another three points after a convincing display against hard-hitting Bragantino. The opponent came determined to wreck Palmeiras’ creativity with all means available, but a more than inspired Valdivia – who, if he keeps his current form, soon will again deserve his nickname El Mago – found the holes: masterly serving Kardec who with plastic perfection bent it past the keeper; then himself taking a surprising shot with exceptional precision. With 2-0 on the scorecard, Palmeiras slowed down, allowing Bragantino to reduce and almost level: a common but unforgiving attitude that Kleina must deal with within the squad. Still, and with the last 20 minutes included, Palmeiras of last Friday performed much more convincingly than against Icasa the Tuesday before, even though the 4-0 score against Icasa might have you think differently.

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Fernandinho extends his contract
It took a while, but Palmeiras finally announced the extension of the contract with left-winger turned midfielder Fernandinho. As compensation, Fernandinho’s club Oeste received 20-year-old Diego Souza: both players will remain at respective new club until the end of the year.

Fernandinho suffered a serious knee injury soon after arrival and has yet to prove his worth after almost nine months parked in the medical department. Coach Kleina has faith in his potential. Oeste wanted to negotiate him definitively, but Palmeiras’ lack of funds was a major obstacle. After rounds of negotiations the situation was solved with the Souza swap and a small salary raise for Fernandinho.

Patrik, the Sport
Midfielder Patrik had supporters on the brink of nervous breakdowns in 2012, Scolari insisting on using him time after time. He wasn’t able to convince Kleina and the athlete ended up leaving for South Korean club Gangwon, where he didn’t remain long. Just back at Palmeiras – enough to provoke a minor storm of protests on social media – within a week his new destination was settled: Sport of Recife. Another lending deal. Could have made that one a permanent.

Blue and I like it
All these players being sent off to gain experience at other clubs are not only reducing Palmeiras’ oversized squad, but also the number of monthly pay checks. The month of June was the first one since July 2012 that closed with a positive balance and, consequently, also the first one during Nobre’s mandate to do so: some US$ 250.000. With roughly US$ 10 million of accumulated deficit January-May, this is a small but important step in the right direction. And, mind you, without yet having signed a major sponsor.

Several measures have led to the financial turnaround, not only the swapping and lending of players: the extinction of Palmeiras B has been fundamental, so has the hibernation of all of Palmeiras’ professional Olympic sports genres that weren’t able to maintain themselves through sponsorships. Times are rough and rather drastic measures have been taken; justified when you’re US$ 2 million short month after month.

Lapidating the jewel…
Last week new aerial photos of the Allianz Parque were released: with 65% of the construction underway, almost all of the supporting structure is in place.
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#S40MARCOS
Yesterday, 4 August, the greatest Palmeiras keeper of them all turned 40. Congratulations, Saint Marcos!

Loves me, loves me not
The Barcos poll was rather inconclusive: 57% wouldn’t have him back, 43% would. Something tells me had the negotiations regarding his exit been better handled, numbers would be the opposite.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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