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What a week. Palmeiras yesterday topped the club’s worst ever campaign in a Brazilian championship with a 3-1 defeat to Santos: that’s a total of 22 defeats out of 38. Not a single victory in any of the six classicos.
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Well ahead of yesterday’s game it was announced that the directorship would be promoting drastic change to the squad. We’ve been through this a thousand times: it’s not the squad that has been Palmeiras’ main problem this year (or any of the last ten years, or the last decades for that matter), but there’s even so a rather broad understanding, almost consensus, among supporters in regard to which players must be asked to clean out their lockers. Indications had journalists speculating in as much as 20-something dismissals…

The list was presented on Thursday night and didn’t even remotely look like the much anticipated spring cleaning. Of the more or less regularly utilised players, out are left-winger Leandro, midfielders João Vítor and Daniel Carvalho, and forwards Betinho and Obina. In addition, a few players rarely seen will say their goodbyes: keepers Pegorari and Carlos, wingers Capixaba, Luís Felipe and Gerley, centre-backs Leandro Amaro and Wellington, midfielders Tinga and Patrik, and forwards Daniel Lovinho and Tadeu. Absolutely no surprises so far.

Now, what about centre-backs Román and Thiago Heleno, who like right-winger Artur are having contracts expiring as of 31 December? No definition. And highly questioned (even in some cases despised) players like Márcio Araújo, Luan, Vinicius, Maikon Leite, Mazinho and cherry-on-the-cake Valdivia? Nothing. Alarming.

FrizzoConfiaAt the beginning of the week we announced that an important step toward a smoother transition between presidents had been taken. Turns out the “one step forward, two steps back” have never been truer, as vice-president a.k.a. director of football Roberto Frizzo first postponed the second meeting then cancelled it altogether, refusing to meet with the gathered three candidates, football manager César Sampaio and coach Kleina. The five, while waiting for president Tirone to arrive, even contemplated conducting the scheduled meeting elsewhere but where explicitly prohibited by Frizzo to do so. After a couple of hours’ waiting, the whole thing was called off. “Directorship, the cancer of Palmeiras”.

The one piece of good news that reaching us this week came straight from the source and addressed the Palmeiras supporter: Barcos put up a home-made video making it clear that he would stay and play for the club unless someone made an irrecusable offer (i.e. paying the full US$ 25 million fine) for his transfer. Practice your “portunhol” watching his short declaration below. The man surely doesn’t lack a spine. Nor courage. I desperately hope he won’t look back on 2013 and think “what I lacked was brains”.
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I’m trailing behind with my writing and being on the road this week, I’ve decided to keep things short and to the point. Forgive me for cutting corners.

Palmeiras drew 1-1 against SPFC last Sunday in what turned out to be the coldest night this year (Swedish summer, as @Lagrutta will have you believe). The game was played at the Barueri stadium before little more than 8.000 spectators: depressingly low for a choque rei, as the derby between the two is called. More on this later.

Palmeiras, patched up due to the many players in the medical department, came with Bruno; Artur, Maurício Ramos (Maikon Leite – 46′/1st H), Leandro Amaro and Juninho; Henrique, Márcio Araújo, João Vítor and Valdivia; Mazinho (Fernandinho – 42′/2nd H) and Betinho (Cicinho – 14′/2nd H)

Against São Paulo – in the top segment of the Brasileirão and promoting the debut of coach Ney Franco – Palmeiras surprised positively, especially considering the emotional and physical drain of the last few weeks that culminated in the Brazil Cup title. The Verdão took command and maintained it even after seeing Henrique sent off early in the second half. SPFC should be thankful they returned with that one point and didn’t suffer a greater embarrassment. Highlights below.
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Apart from having Henrique suspended in Tomorrow’s (Thursday) game against Coritiba, we also lost Maurício Ramos due to a muscle injury. I’m no doctor but these frequent muscular problems our players are experiencing can’t be normal. Well, at least Barcos is back training after his appendicitis surgery two weeks ago.

Palmeiras are not only losing players due to injuries: the (in)famous Superior Brazilian Sports Tribunal (STJD) yesterday punished Luiz Felipe Scolari with one game’s suspension for “clapping ironically” during a game against Ponte Preta in June. Valdivia received a three-games suspension linked to the incident that got him sent off against Coritiba in the first leg of the finals of the Brazil Cup, thus keeping him out of the two games this week against same Coritiba and Nautico. The way the STJD directly influences the championship is a joke. It’s also a joke how Palmeiras have gone from a respected adversary to a lame duck off the pitch; not long ago we had good lawyers defending and often winning our cases in the STJD. Not anymore. Result: technical assistant Murtosa will command the team on Thursday against Coritiba without Luan, Barcos Maurício Ramos, Román Thiago Heleno (injured) and João Vítor, Valdivia, Maicon Leite and Henrique (suspended). Assunção should however be recovered from his cold. And we might even have the debut of no other than… Obina.

Yes, Obina is back. The 29-year-old baiano, who played for Palmeiras in 2009 scoring 12 goals in 27 matches before being discharged together with teammate Maurício due to a fight between the two on the pitch, has been given a second chance. Upon leaving Palmeiras the striker returned to Atlético Mineiro where he had a very successful season, then transferred to Shandong Luneng (China). After two so-so seasons in Asia, Obina’s wish to return was timed with Scolari’s search for a second striker with a strong presence in the penalty area. Obina comes as a loan until the end of the year and Palmeiras have first option for buying his economic rights at the end of the term. It’s a bit of a gamble, but if enthusiasm and happiness are any measures, Obina will contribute greatly to the squad; it was like the lost son returning home, with plenty of backslapping, jokes and laughter. Welcome back, Obina!

Palmeiras have also signed with 21-year-old, left footed midfielder Netinho. A former Vasco da Gama and Santos player, Netinho left Brazil at the age of 16, played two years in Europe and has spent his last three years at Al Wakrah, Catar. Netinho will regain physical form and adapt to Brazilian football at Palmeiras B before eventually taking the step up to the main team. His contract runs for three months but can be extended with at least three more.

Back to the topic of the Barueri stadium. This week, The Brazilian Football Federation released a ranking of teams in the Brasileirão, based on their average public during home games. Palmeiras were to be found in the very bottom, with a 8.600 heads average, about a third of the average of top three teams Corinthians, Grêmio and Sport. Yet another indicator of the hefty price Palmeiras are paying for the unreasonable decision to call Barueri “home”.

Unfortunately, we might be looking at the tip of the iceberg. Adopting the Barueri in the final stages of the Brazil Cup due to superstition, players feeling more at ease, the smaller stadium diminishing pressure or whatever: all this and more could be tolerated to increase chances of winning the title. With mission accomplished, priority number one should be finding the way back to the Pacaumbu stadium and the home crowd, not least because important games are bound to take place there in 2012 and 2013. Imagine the frustration when we instead learn that Palmeiras’ directors have requested that the only two home games in the first half of the Brasileirão not scheduled for Barueri – Bahia and Flamengo – also be played there? It’s wrong beyond the comprehension of the word “wrong”. Idiots.

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The 2012 Football Blogging Awards were announced last Saturday and Anything Palmeiras won the Best Club-Specific Blog category. My most sincere THANK YOU to everyone who voted for me on facebook and twitter; this award is YOURS!

Below, a list of all winners. If you want to check out my acceptance speech video, as screened during the awards ceremony in Manchester/UK, click here.

Best Male Blog – The 4th Official
Best Female Blog – The Liver Bird
Best New Blog – My Old Man Said
Best Veteran Blog – Six Tame Sides
Best Club-Specific Blog – Anything Palmeiras
Best Podcast- Chelsea Football Fancast
Best Comedy Blog – Fitba Thatba
Best Video Blog – The League of Ireland Interview Show

AVANTI PALESTRA!

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