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Posts Tagged ‘miguel borja’

Everyone at Palmeiras – players, directors, even supporters – have the last week adopted the same discourse: our aim in the Brasileirão is the G4, the top four teams that earn a direct qualifying spot to next year´s Libertadores Cup. Never mind that a victory against Cruzeiro followed by another against Corinthians would propel Palmeiras to the lead: coach Alberto Valentim’s approach has trickled down everywhere. “Let’s do this one game at the time”. No doubt, the caution is also a reaction to last year’s pathetic “Can you sense the smell (of the championship title)?” campaign that Flamengo wholeheartedly launched into as they approached the top, only to finish in third, nine points behind the champion.

Yesterday’s Palmeiras vs. Cruzeiro was an excellent game, with two teams honestly looking to bag the three points. That being said, Palmeiras dominated the action start to finish, with superior possession and three times the number of shots taken. The draw was the result of an unfortunate own goal, an incorrectly disallowed goal (which would have taken Borja’s count to three on the night) and one penalty not awarded. Yes, the referee directly influenced the result, and that is a rare consensus, even among sports journalists.
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The steady progress under Valentim is clear, and nothing says that louder than Borja’s recent performances. Cuca did not know how or did not want to use the Colombian striker according to his characteristics. A few weeks under the new coach, including three starting eleven appearances, and Borja suddenly resembles the monster that completely took the Latin-American continent by storm last year. In addition, the team is more compact, has transitioned from individual to zonal marking and improved on triangulations.

Did Palmeiras just blow their chance to the title? On the contrary. The draw took Palmeiras one point closer, as Corinthians on the Sunday lost to relegation-threatened Ponte Preta. It should also serve to keep everyone firmly on the ground, continuing to work hard and improve, while keeping the pressure, the “obligation”, firmly on Corinthians’ side for at least a couple of more rounds. Now, Sunday’s derby is crucial: anything but a victory and the gap would remain at five points or even, God forbid, increase to eight. A victory on the other hand would diminish the gap to two points, with Palmeiras strengthened and Corinthians demoralised after a home defeat to the biggest rival and title contender, with six rounds to go. The finish would be epic. Will be epic.

Sunday. Sunday. Sunday.    

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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With 13 days to train and rest after the classico, a sense of normality has enveloped Palmeiras. The newsworthy events are few. Not necessarily is a bad thing.

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Gabriel Jesus’ former manager Fábio Caran and Palmeiras have reached an agreement whereby the club receives a further R$ 20 million (US$ 6.4 million) originating from the player’s sale to Manchester City.

Initially entitled to receive only 30% of the R$ 121 million, Palmeiras increased the club’s percentage to 50% due to the manager and his wife having breached the contract by forming a partnership with two other entrepreneurs without the club’s consent. The agreement ends a yearlong imbroglio in the courts. Caran, originally to receive R$ 28 million, thus ends up with R$ 8 million.

— ooo —

Felipe Melo seems likely to return to the Palmeiras squad. No offers from abroad has surfaced and there are some legal aspects to consider if Melo would continuously be kept separate from the rest of the men. Players seem fine with a reintegration; the main concern is rather as to what point coach Cuca and Melo will be able to reconcile.

The defensive midfielder is on a contract with Palmeiras until end of 2019.

— ooo —

Following Vitinhos’ loan deal to Barcelona B, a number of young Palmeiras players have followed suit, negotiated with European clubs.  

In yesterday’s last day of the European transfer window, Emerson Muller of the U20 squad was negotiated, for an undisclosed amount, on a four-year contract with Suisse club FC Lugano. In any future transfer of the midfielder, Palmeiras are entitled to 20%.

The previous day, 18-year-old forward Gabriel Barbosa was negotiated on a one-year loan deal with Italian top-division club Spal.

Centre-back Gabriel Estigarribia and forward Matheus Iacovelli have also left, both for good: the defender is with Alavés of Spain, and the forward with Estoril, Portugal.

— ooo —

There are rumours Miguel Borja could be open for a transfer, concerned about limited play time at Palmeiras and the risk of losing his spot in Colombia’s national squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Both Cuca and Galiotte have however reiterated that Borja is very focused and determined to make it work at Palmeiras. The player himself acknowledge difficulties in adapting to the Brazilian style of play and Cuca’s philosophy, but guarantees he is staying. Borja has four more years to his contract.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Toward the end of the month, we´ll have two rounds of qualifying games for the 2018 World Cup. All in all, four Palmeiras players have been called up to defend their countries: Yerry Mina and Miguel Borja for Colombia, Alejandro Guerra for Venezuela and Dudu for Brazil.
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Dudu received the call later than the rest: Douglas Costa suffered a knee injury during training at Bayern München last Friday, and coach Tite picked Dudu as the replacement. This is the striker’s third time in the yellow shirt: his first appearance was under Mano Menezes, in 2011. Then a long break, before Tite called him up in January of this year. However, all previous occasions have been friendly games. Finally facing the “real deal”, Dudu is in ecstasy. Well deserved!

Brazil plays Uruguay away on the 23rd and Paraguay at home on the 28th. Palmeiras’ quartet will miss the last three group-stage rounds of the São Paulo championship: another involuntary test of the squad’s quality and resilience. Also, another proof of the incapacity of Brazilian football federations to set up a decent calendar throughout the year.

Good luck to the four: may they all return safe and sound to Palmeiras.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Palmeiras used yesterday’s game as dress rehearsal for the upcoming Libertadores bout away against Atlético Tucumán. Baptista again opted for the 4-2-3-1 formation, this time Felipe Melo taking Thiagos Santo’s place alongside Zé Roberto. Michel Bastos gave way to Guerra. And just as against Ferroviária, Willian started up front.

Even swapping pieces, the formation worked well and Palmeiras controlled the game. The soaked pitch ruined expectations for any class act, but the first half was nevertheless enjoyable, with Willian opening up the scorecard before the ten-minute mark and Palmeiras creating several chances.

In the second half, Baptista promoted Borja and Bastos on Willian and Guerra. The scenario remained mostly unchanged until Zé Roberto advanced his position, transforming Palmeiras’ formation into a 4-1-4-1. With that, the same problems resurged from previous games: Felipe Melo lost and alone, lines too far apart, difficulties in reversing from defence to offence. Baptista watched all this but apparently was not bothered by Red Bull applying more pressure and advancing positions. His third substitution was Roger Guedes on Keno, the young forward coming on red hot, soon increasing the lead after a beautiful pass from Zé.

Red Bull found their goal with five minutes left on the clock. A draw was however never close and in the dying minute, Borja again showed all his lethalness, closing the scorecard.
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In two games for the Verdão, the Colombian striker has had the ball in his possession for 37 seconds, taken three shots and scored twice. If there was ever any doubt, he is the sharpest shooter in the squad. We also learnt that the 4-2-3-1 formation does indeed suit Palmeiras well, even swapping the pieces. And this without two crucial players for game reversal, Tchê Tchê and Moisés, available (the former will be tested tomorrow and might travel with the squad to Argentina).

Now, yesterday’s morphing from 4-2-3-1 into 4-1-4-1 leaves some of us puzzled. As Baptista did not try to mend, Zé Roberto was under instructions. Why does Baptista insist on a formation that is not working? His grace period is coming to an end, and fast. For now, he better settle on a formation and matching game plan that will put out solid, consistent performance. Leave the alternations and trickery to later.

Libertadores Cup. Our obsession. Bring it on.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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After the less than satisfying performance against Corinthians, and with Felipe Melo out due to the busted eyebrow contracted in that game, coach Baptista change the tactical formation against Ferroviária, abandoning the 4-1-4-1 for a 4-2-3-1. With Zé Roberto and Thiago Silva protecting the defenders, Egídio was promoted on the left flank. The full starting line-up consisted of Prass; Jean, Dracena, Vítor Hugo and Egídio; Thiago Santos and Zé Roberto; Dudu, Keno and Michel Bastos; Willian.

Ferroviária´s squad is of course less qualified than Corinthians’, but it was nevertheless possible to observe a clear improvement in Palmeiras’ transition from defence to attack. Palmeiras created numerous chances and could have settled the matter already in the first half, but went to halftime with the one goal, signed Keno.

The second half started a bit slow and supporters grew impatient, but that ceased as Michel Bastos increased the lead, nicely executing a set piece involving Jean. Not long after, Ferroviária converted a penalty. Again only one goal behind, the visitors launched an offensive that lasted for ten minutes, exercising certain pressure on Palmeiras. Baptista promoted the debut of Borja, officially presented that same morning, and Palmeiras’ new #12 needed little time to again increase the lead through a lethal counter-attack in partnership with Dudu, the crowds going wild. A few minutes before injury time, Roger Guedes closed the scorecard.

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All in all, a solid performance by Palmeiras. Seems like Baptista have found a way around the absence of Moisés and Tchê Tchê, the latter expected back within a couple of weeks, the former only in September/October. Palmeiras now have a few days dedicated for training, as next game, against Red Bull Brasil, only takes placed upcoming Friday. Another good performance, and confidence will reach new levels ahead of the Libertadores Cup debut against Argentinian Atlético Tucumán on 8 March.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Borja officially confirmed

On the 9th of February, the 9 times Brazilian champion reached an agreement with the club’s new #9, Miguel Ángel Borja.

Five year contract, US$ 10.5 million for 70% of the player’s economic rights, salary roughly US$ 1.2 million/year. Release fee at € 60 million.

Adversaries, quiver to the bone.
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borja_real

 

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Although officially consistently denied by Palmeiras, a deal has been cooking since November. Atlético Nacional naturally want as much as possible for their star striker, but the insistence on too high a price resulted in the European transfer window closing without any serious option on the table. Big dollars are also available in China, but Borja is young and hungry and not at all keen on a move to Asia. Palmeiras’ director of football Alexandre Mattos seems to have played his hand well.

What additionally has tipped the scale in Palmeiras’ favour is Borja’s own wish: in a fresh-off-the-presses interview for a Brazilian newspaper, he admits having swapped messages with former teammate Alejandro Guerra and fellow compatriot Yerry Mina about Palmeiras and liked what he heard. He also mentioned the feverish Palmeiras supporters and that he had received many encouraging messages through social media, already feeling welcome at the club. And then, a rather bombastic statement from the recently turned 24-year-old: “My family has already packed the bags for Brazil. I expect a decision to be reached by tomorrow or the day after”.

Word is Palmeiras are paying US$ 12 million for 50%-70% of the player’s economic rights.

Tomorrow, Palmeiras and Crefisa are holding a press conference to announce a two-year renovation of the sponsorship partnership. Expect numbers rarely, if ever, seen in Brazilian football: approximately R$100 million per year (US$ 32 million) with bonuses for titles won. Considering recent developments, I would say there is a fair chance the sponsorship renovation be not the sole topic on the agenda.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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