Posts Tagged ‘scolari’

We should be used by now. It’s nevertheless astonishing. Especially for those who use “Anything Palmeiras” as their primary source of info. Updates have indeed been less frequent than normal due to external factors (renovation of apartment is trotting along fine albeit at more than twice the expense and time estimated, thank you very much), making it even harder to understand how blue skies turn into thunderstorms overnight. But that’s Palmeiras. And we are, again, in a thunderstorm.

Yesterday’s resounding 3-0 defeat to Atlético Paranaense in the Copa do Brasil was a huge blow to the club’s aspiration to compete in the Libertadores Cup 2014, Palmeiras’ centenary year; it was a huge blow to increased revenues in regard to ticket sales and most likely also in new Avanti members; it was a huge blow to the collective spirit of all involved – supporters, players, staff – as the rest of the year has nothing but tedious months of bureaucratic second division labour to offer.

Losing to Atlético – currently fourth in the Brasileirão and on a roll – is nothing chocking in itself. But yesterday’s elimination was a disgrace. The apathy contaminated the whole squad, save one or two exceptions. Coach Kleina showed no signs of being remotely able to turn things around: not tactically and certainly not emotionally.

Is Kleina’s job on the line? Possibly. Palmeiras’ players have not shown the same dedication, the same spark present during most of the first semester. Last few rounds in the Brasileirão have been carbon copies: suffer the goal then react and turn the tables in the end of the second half. Thrilling, but not solid nor desirable. And against stronger opposition, unviable, as seen yesterday. President Nobre was not at all pleased. At the press conference following the game, he did not guarantee Kleina’s stay, but also said that answers would be demanded and solutions sought out behind closed doors and when things had cooled down a bit.

In the turmoil of frustration, a normally reliable sports journalist this morning informed that centre-back Vilson – one of the team’s highlights this year but yet another to perform extremely badly against Atlético – was yesterday sold to German club Stuttgart. Come again? Negotiate an important player hours before a crucial game? The piece of news, if confirmed, puts Nobre and CEO Brunoro right in the crosshairs. Explanations with solid arguments, gentlemen: nothing less will suffice.

Leaving yesterday’s events, a few other bits and pieces:

# Left-back Gerley last week left for fourth (!) division team Juventude, on loan, until the end of the year. Too bad he’s not leaving for good.

# National coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has called up centre-back Henrique for the two upcoming friendlies against Australia (Brasilia, 7 September) and Portugal (Boston/USA, 10 September).

# Finally, a picture (by Roberto Stuckert Filho), also from last week: Palmeiras president Paulo Nobre handing president of Brazil Dilma Rousseff a Verdão jersey. How sweet.


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The week that started off with a bang in Boston also brought about sadness in São Paulo as a wire on one of the cranes in operation at the construction site of the New Arena snapped, dropping a load onto a group of workers, killing one and injuring another two. A thorough investigation will be carried out, as always when these kinds of unfortunately not so uncommon accidents happen. Work was supposed to gradually return to normal beginning on Wednesday, but until now (Thursday night) everything’s quiet at the construction site. During tonight’s game Against Sporting Cristal, our players wore a black arm band as a tribute to the deceased.

The tragic accident is the wrong backdrop to announce the mega-agreement being finalised as these lines are written: unless something unexpected surface, Palmeiras and WTorre will shortly announce the selling of the New Arena naming rights to Europe’s largest insurance company, German Allianz. The deal is speculated to be worth some US$ 150 million for a period of 10 years, the New Arena joining the Allianz family members in Germany (Allianz Arena, Munich), England (Allianz Park, London), France (Allianz Riviera, Nice) and Australia (Allianz Stadium, Sydney). “Allianz Palestra”, anyone?

ayrton_palmeiras_afp.jpg_95Back to the Libertadores game. Palmeiras sent a decimated squad to Peru, as Kleina wisely opted for letting Henrique and Vinícius rest – they had two yellow cards each and thus risked missing out on the first leg of the knockout phase if booked in the last game – instead promoting Vilson and Ronny. Our men in green didn’t maintain the posture from recent games and managed the least likely: lose to already disqualified Sporting Cristal, while Tigre, in Assunção (!), were beating Libertad by a margin of three goals and pushing Palmeiras down to second place. On stoppage time however, Libertad scored and propelled Palmeiras back into first position. Phew. In theory, easier competition in the next round and the advantage of playing the second leg on home grounds.

EDIT: Tijuana/MEX are up next. First game away, second in São Paulo.

Speaking of Henrique: our captain was called up by Scolari for the friendly against Chile on 24 April in Belo Horizonte. The centre-back will commemorate his return to the national squad in company of Leandro, the young striker enjoying his second opportunity to make a lasting impression. All in all, Scolari called up 18 players, all active in Brazil.

Thankfully, Henrique and Leandro should not be missing any games for Palmeiras while serving the national squad.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra! Although not today. But hey, we finished first, didn’t we?

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The rollercoaster has, at least temporary, decided to operate like an elevator. Margins are small in football, as in life, and it’s absolutely too early to claim there’s enough stability and quality in the Palmeiras squad to see us through 2013 in a satisfactory manner. Still, recent results point in the right direction: the fundamental victory against Tigre last week and yesterday’s (surprising, yes, but convincing) away win against until now undefeated Ponte Preta elevated Palmeiras’ winning streak to three – a handsom cash-in had you placed your bets accordingly, for example at www.casinoonline.pt.

In both recent games, players showed remarkable determination, especially when compared to the disastrous night against Mirassol. The game that went to the history books as Palmeiras’ worst first half ever happened only a few weeks ago, but the change of posture is clear. There are a number of plausible reasons for this: the large number of younger players in the squad might have needed the extra time to grow comfortable as a collective; the many new arrivals might feel they need to mark position; coach Kleina’s pragmatic approach of experimenting and using whatever he deems best for the day without paying much attention to neither player’s nor supporter’s opinions could also be playing a part in creating healthy competition within the squad. And then, of course, there’s the natural effect of positive results, and the recognition that comes with it. Take Leandro, the young striker recently arrived from Grêmio. He was called up by Scolari for the national team friendly against Bolivia last week, scored in his debut, then flew back to score the winning goal against Ponte Preta. That’s how you make an impression. Leandro is on loan until the end of the year, but with a fixed price tag of allegedly 5 million euros if Palmeiras wish to buy. Should turn into one hell of an investment. Make it happen, Nobre.

Speaking of Nobre: the articulate, balanced, focused and dedicated president is such a relief. Many palmeirense seem already have forgotten the feeling of shame we felt every time Tirone, Frizzo or Piraci de Oliveira opened their mouths. I haven’t. Might never.

There’s more: very little to no news from the backstage of Palmeiras reach us through mainstream media. Internal meetings, internal documents, locker room talk: all remain closed to outsiders. Wherever the leakages – constant in previous administrations – Nobre’s plugged them.

One of few worries is the elevated number of players in the medical department. Bad luck or bad professionals preparing our players physically? A thorough investigation must be carried out and Palmeiras go after the best available on the market: Palmeiras pay players way to much to afford having them not playing all they could.

Thursday, against Libertad, a few men should be back, most notably captain Henrique but possibly also Valdivia, Kleber and Mr Milk. For once, Kleina has more than he needs. Henrique should be in the starting eleven, but doubtfully any of the other three. Depending on how the game progresses, I’d say we might see Valdivia and Leite in the second half.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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11 December 2012. Young and old, men, women and children: some 39.000 of them, all with their eyes fixed upon one man as he walks up onto the grass of the Pacaembu stadium. Applauses and cheers for one of the most respected players in the history of Brazilian football – Marcos Roberto Silveira Reis – the one and only “São Marcos”, or Marcos for short.

This is a farewell. This is a tribute. This is in commemoration of a tremendous athlete and a singular man. Tonight, the stellar Palmeiras squad of 1999 plays the Brazilian National squad of the 2002 World Cup: two squads where Marcos was the uncontested keeper. They have all gatherer to play in his honour. And palmeirenses from all over Brazil have made a pilgrimage to be here, at this moment.

IMG_1420The atmosphere is that of serenity, pride, a fair bit of melancholy but also of celebration. As the spectators slowly fill up the Pacaembu hours before kickoff – briefly stopping outside to admire the green floodlights and tributes to “the Saint” and the immortal #12 displayed on the facade of the stadium – they joyfully make use of balloons and mosaics while singing practically nonstop.

Each player is greeted by the crowds upon entering the pitch: the canarinhos of 2002 with specially invited guest consist of  Dida, Velloso, Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Júnior, Roque Júnior, Edmílson, Antônio Carlos, Belletti, IMG_1433Zé Roberto, Rivaldo, Djalminha, Juninho Paulista, Ricardinho, Denílson, Luizão, Ronaldo and Edílson, and are led by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari; then the Palmeiras squad of 1999 – also including a few guest stars, with São Marcos, Sérgio, Neném, Rubens Júnior, Tiago Silva, Cléber, Rivarola, Agnaldo Liz, Tonhão, César Sampaio, Dudu, Galeano, Pedrinho, Amaral, Alex, Ademir da Guia, Evair, Oséas, Paulo Nunes, Euller, Asprilla and Edmundo, under the command of César Maluco. Be present to watch these gentlemen play live is one heck of a rush!

Kickoff. The National Team have more possession and test Marcos with a few shots. 17 minutes into the game, Edmundo is fouled inside the penalty area. Marcos, who hasn’t scored a goal in his entire career, refuses to take it but the pressure from the stands are deafening and when the players cross the entire pitch to come and fetch him, he succumbs. As the ball hits the back of the net the roar knows no limit.

IMG_1428The game progresses in similar fashion, with Palmeiras mostly counterattacking – Alex showing great form on the midfield. And every time Marcos touches the ball, the crowd goes wild. Early in second half, Marcos give way to Sergio between the posts, as the former change gear and now turns into a forward, without much luck though: Marcos hardly touches the ball while the 2002 squad reduces after a header by Edílson and then equalises through Luizão.

When the clock strikes midnight – and the date changes to 12.12.12 – the centre headlights at the stadium go off. With Kleine’s guitar version of the Palmeiras hymn in the background, Marcos takes hold of the microphone and delivers his farewell speech, thanking everyone who have been there for him throughout his career. He finishes with the words

Of you Palmeiras supporters I ask but one thing: never forget me. Because I will never forget you.

before jumping on a trolley that takes him on a lap of honour. This must be the best sending off of all times.

Now, there’s no such thing as a perfect script… In Sweden we have this expression: “ränderna går aldrig ur“, a reference to the stripes of a zebra that are not only in the fur but actually mark the skin of the animal as well. No matter what you do, a zebra is a zebra. Or, if you prefer, a skunk is a skunk. And it apparently takes a gambá to try to humiliate Marcos at his own party by opting for a mid-pitch shot while our keeper – with his back to all other players – is returning to the goal after converting the penalty (Ronaldo). It takes a gambá to steal the ball from 71-year-old Palmeiras legend Ademir “the Divine” da Guia as everybody else is enjoying the sequence of passes designed with the intention of showing off the grand old master’s touch (Edílson).

Nothing of this matters in the end. The farewell was a splendid display of palestrinidade, of love and respect for a team and the man who made it his home for more than 20 years.

We salute you, São Marcos!

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Last Thursday we learnt that five players will not see their contracts renewed at the end of the year: left-back Leandro, midfielders João Vítor and Daniel Carvalho, and forwards Betinho and Obina. In addition, Palmeiras put another eleven players out on the transfer market: keepers Pegorari and Carlos; defenders Capixaba, Luís Felipe and Gerley; centre-backs Leandro Amaro and Wellington; midfielders Tinga and Patrik; forwards Daniel Lovinho and Tadeu.

As of yesterday, four more players can start looking for work elsewhere: right-back Artur, centre-backs Adalberto Román and Thiago Heleno, and midfielder Correa.

What about arrivals? Well, the only signing so far is right-winger Ayrton, currently at Coritiba but belonging to Londrina. In addition, defensive midfielders Souza and Wendel are returning after a season on loan to Náutico and Ponte Preta respectively. Anything else, and especially involving goalkeepers, is pure speculation.

— ooo —

You will certainly have heard that former Palmeiras coach and 2002 World Cup-winner Luiz Felipe Scolari has replaced Mano Menezes as the new coach of the Brazilian national team for the 2014 World Cup. Carlos Alberto Parreira, who led Brazil to its fourth world title in 1994, has been named technical director. In case you’re looking for insights on the rather surprising swap – including the rumours on Guardiola as a candidate – I can nothing but recommend this text by the always excellent James Young.

On an ending note, Luiz Felipe Scolari lost his mother yesterday. Our thoughts go to our former commander and his family.

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This afternoon the almighty Brazilian Superior Tribunal of Sports (STJD) fined Palmeiras US$ 20.000 for the vandalism – which included a few object thrown onto the pitch – that took place at the Pacaembu during and after the derby against Corinthians a couple of weeks back. Worse, the STJD also ruled that Palmeiras will have to host four home games (against Coritiba, Cruzeiro, Botafogo and Fluminense) at least 100 clicks from the capital. Two options seem most likely: the Fonte Luminosa stadium in Araraquara (288km far) and the Santa Cruz stadium in Ribeirão Preto (336km far). This is all very unfortunate, as supporters were finally having games played in the capital and were showing up in excellent numbers.

In the same ruling Luan was punished with a three-games suspension (due to the red card he received in the derby).

— ooo —

A lot of the rage exposed during the abovementioned game was mostly aimed at Palmeiras’ directors. A smaller group evens did some damage to vice-president Frizzo’s restaurant a few hours after the final blow of the whistle. Ever since, both president Tirone and vice-president Frizzo have been keeping a low profile (kindly speaking) but Frizzo gave an interview the other day, again missing out on a great opportunity to stay quiet.

I don’t feel I have any blame in what’s happening. I’m working as normal, like I’ve always done. If it didn’t turn out right, it was the team [the team’s fault, my clarification], not Frizzo. I have consciousness of what I’m doing, and because of that, I would never resign at this moment. I was part of the group that was champion in the Brazil Cup. One can’t think that now, everything is wrong.

Seems like Frizzo believes he can have the best of two worlds, much like private financial institutions that pocket the profit only to be bailed out by governments (i.e. us taxpayers) in times of crises. When Palmeiras win, Frizzo claims his part of the glory; when Palmeiras lose, it’s the player’s fault. Nice. No wonder some people think smashing up his restaurant sounds like a good idea.

— ooo —

Just because things are chronically bad at Palmeiras, at least politically and administratively speaking, one mustn’t believe everything one reads. A certain journalist recently published that Palmeiras’ directors had decided on not giving players any kind of bonus in case Palmeiras escape relegation. This is an outright lie: in fact, leaders of the squad took the initiative and approached the directors and informed them that they would not accept any bonuses and that right now the last thing on their minds is money. A display of dignity from the squad. And one more example of bad journalism, bordering on the criminal.

— ooo —

Speaking of dignifying: Luiz Felipe Scolari was in Brasilia the other day to meet with the Minister of Sports Aldo Rebelo – a palmeirense body and soul. This time however, the topic was not our Verdão but an invitation by Rebelo for Scolari to promote certain events and activities by the Ministry on a volunteer basis. Big Phil not only accepted, as gave his first interview after having left Palmeiras.

“I believe it was the right moment for me exiting Palmeiras and somebody with capacity and possibility for professional growth – as Gilson Kleina – to take over”, Scolari stated. “It was the right path, both for me and for Palmeiras, and the best thing that could have happened”. On the victory against Figueirense, has said that he “watched, cheered and liked the game”, praising Kleina’s debut and approving of the spirit that the squad was showing. 

— ooo —

Indeed the spirit is good in the squad, with players smiling and joking during training sessions. Our striker Barcos has yet one more reason to smile as he was yesterday once again called up to join the Argentine national squad, this time against Uruguay and Chile, 12 and 16 of October. Playing in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers is of course great news for Barcos. For Palmeiras, not as great: our main striker will guaranteed be absent against Coritiba and Náutico, very likely also against Bahia. Crucial matches and crucial points on the line.

On the other hand, it does us no good worrying about Barcos and the future: there is one opponent and only one game to worry about: tomorrow’s clash with coach Kleina’s former club Ponte Preta. Three points in the bag and Palmeiras will be breathing down the neck of the 2-3 teams closest to the relegation zone.

Avanti Palestra!

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Scolari out, Murtosa out. Galeano, technical coordinator and Felipão’s protégé, out. Narciso (at least temporarily) commanding the squad, including Marcos Assunção, back from a minor knee surgery. Enough to surprise, revert, bring havoc to the arch enemy in Sunday’s win or win derby? Not quite. It was a reprise. Itchy referees, stupid Palmeiras players (read Luan) not able to control their temper, nerves and more nerves, lack of attention leading to crucial mistakes, lack of skills (damn it how hard can it be to head the ball LOW) and the regular dose of bad luck. In the end, what we had was not such a small number of the 25.000 present Palmeiras supporters invading the VIP section at the Pacaembu, looking to give club president Tirone and vice-president Frizzo a good beating.


President Tirone was supposed to open a football event today at the New Arena, entitled “The Future of Brazilian Clubs”. He didn’t show up, afraid of facing protests or something worse. I’d imagine finding Palmeiras a new coach has turned into second priority for Mr Tirone: he needs to find his spine before he crumbles to the floor.

If you’re looking for courage and spine, better look elsewhere. I suggest enjoying two minutes of the smallest largest palmeirenses of them all – Renan Barreiros – as he pays back his promise for Palmeiras winning the Brazil Cup anno 2012. Larger than life, our dear Renan. Larger than life.

Figueirense are the next opponent. Saturday. A more than direct contender. Defeat is unthinkable if we want to have any hope whatsoever of remaining alive.

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