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“No names making reference to the axis powers allowed” read the controversial decree, issued by Brazil’s president Getúlio Vargas in 1942. Under the threat of having to forfeit all the club’s assets and be expelled from the São Paulo state championship they were leading, Palestra Italia changed name to Palmeiras.

From Palestra to Palmeiras, on the week preceding the State championship final against São Paulo Futebol Clube. São Paulo FC, which openly played the treason card in relation to “foreign” sport associations, having already taken over the facilities of “Deutscher Sport Club” through a forced merger. Now, the same club was laying claim to the assets of the former Palestra Italia.
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arrancada.
20 September 1942, day of the championship final. Palmeiras entered the pitch carrying a Brazilian flag under the leadership of Army Captain Adalberto Mendes. With the game underway, Palmeiras were soon leading 3-1. Then, with a penalty called in Palmeiras’ favour, São Paulo pulled their side off the field amid jeers and taunts from the stands.

The following day, newspapers sold out. The headline remains in classic: “A Leader Dies, A Champion Is Born”. This defining episode in the club’s history was later coined Arrancada Heroica, the Heroic Jolt.

Happy Anniversary, Palmeiras!
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Atlético Mineiro 1-1 Palmeiras
Cuca used the two weeks to tweak defence and midfield creativity. Yesterday’s first test against Atlético Mineiro was an interesting albeit frustrating experience:  individual errors and a biased referee saw two Palmeiras players – Luan and Willian – sent off, not permitting the game to evolve organically. Still, the end result and, in particular, the way Palmeiras occupied spaces and to a certain extent controlled the game at the Estádio Independência – even one and later two men short – are good indicators the team has evolved. How much, possibly we will learn more about on Monday the 18th, when Palmeiras receive Coritiba.

Monday, Palmeiras are issuing a formal protest against Leandro Vuaden. On two occasions, both crucial, he failed to do the right thing: award a penalty for Palmeiras as a shot was blocked with open arms, and have a converted Atlético penalty go repeat after an Atlético player grossly invaded the penalty box. In addition, criteria for distribution of yellow and red cards were inexistent throughout the game.  
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Is there anything left for palmeirenses to enjoy this year? Sure. The Libertadores Cup spot needs securing. And seriously… Palmeiras are 14 points behind Corinthians, but the skunks have lost three out of last four games, with 15 rounds to go. Then there is the deliciousness of São Paulo FC’s desperate battle against relegation…

— ooo —

Felipe Melo has been reintegrated into the squad. Not meaning Cuca will take advantage of the new-old addition. During an unfortunate press conference, the loose cannon was allowed to take centre stage and the habitual stream of bombastic bull followed. Just for starters, Melo alleged categorically not having apologized to Cuca… I expect Melo to train with the squad and, occasionally, make it to the bench. And negotiated as soon as an opportunity arises.

— ooo —

Palmeiras’ youth divisions are doing well. Three athletes – midfielder Alan, centre-back Vitão and left-back Luan – have been selected for Brazil’s U17 squad playing the World Cup in India 6-28 October.

So far this year, 15 Palmeiras players have represented Brazil in one of the youth categories: nine in the Brazil U15 (keepers Mateus and Bruno Carcaioli, centre-backs Henri and Renan, defender Garcia, midfielders Fabinho and Gabriel Silva and forwards Vinicius and Gabriel Veron), another five in the U17 team (defenders Lucas Rosa and Luan Cândido, centre-back Vitão and midfielders Alan and Bruno Tattavito) and forward Léo Passos for the U20. Promising for the future.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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“Regardless of Sunday’s result, Cuca stays until the end of the year”, Palmeiras president Galiotte declared the other day. A firm statement with a feather’s weight: anyone remotely familiarised with Brazilian football knows Cuca was under substantial pressure ahead of today’s derby against relegation-prone São Paulo FC.

With Prass between the posts, Cuca initiated in a 4-4-2, repeating Moisés and Guerra together on the midfield, joined by Tchê Tchê and Bruno Henrique.  Michel Bastos on the left flank, Jean on the right. Dracena and Luan centre lock. Willian and Deyverson up front.

Palmeiras were vastly superior throughout the 90 minutes, with three times as many shots fired. Nevertheless, the game was a cardiac test, with The Enemy opening up the scorecard early in the first half, Palmeiras turning the tables after two quick ones by Willian, then the equaliser just before halftime.

Cuca promoted three substitutions during the second half: Keno for Bruno Henrique, Thiago Santos for Deyverson and Hyoran for Guerra. Keno and Hyoran scored the winners. Highlights below.
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After 22 rounds out of 38, Palmeiras rest in fourth with 36 points, 14 points behind leader Corinthians, who are finally showing signs of fatigue. Too bad Palmeiras, and not only Palmeiras, threw in the towel early in the Brasileirão, giving priority to the Brazil Cup and, in particular, the Libertadores cup. Kicked out of both, there are obvious lessons to be drawn from Palmeiras’ 2017 campaign.  

The Brazilian championship now takes a two-week pause due to World Cup qualifiers. Today’s victory brings a certain level of peace to Cuca and the squad. Training and rest, with the right mind-set, will hopefully do wonders. Brushing up on defence is a priority: it has been shaky for weeks and today was no exception, to state it mildly.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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During WWII, Brazil sided with the Allies. Soon, any reference to the Axis powers was prohibited. These were difficult times in Brazil for persons and institutions of German, Italian or Japanese descent.

On the day preceding the São Paulo state championship final, the Verdão was forced to change name, from Palestra Italia to Palmeiras.

On game day, 19 minutes into the second half, Palmeiras were beating São Paulo FC 3 goals to 1. A penalty was marked in Palmeiras’ favour and to general astonishment, the opponent abandoned the pitch, ending the duel and confirming Palmeiras’ championship title.

Poetically, Palestra died a leader and Palmeiras were born a champion. The feat became known as “Arrancada Herócia”, the Heroic Jolt.

This season’s 3rd uniform is dark green, featuring gold details on the sleeves, collar and sides.
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The taboo at the Morumbi remains: not since 2002 have Palmeiras beaten SPFC on their (sic) wretched grounds.

But today, the draw is a thing to celebrate, as Palmeiras played much under standards. True, the absences of Arouca, Zé Roberto and Dudu are important setbacks, but still: São Paulo acted like we are used to see Palmeiras, applying pressure high up the pitch, deploying speed through the flanks – and in particular Palmeiras’ left one – exchanging passes and advancing with ease in wave after wave. Retiring at halftime with a goalless draw was a treat.

Marcelo Oliveira tried to correct the stance at halftime, promoting youngster João Pedro on behalf of Andrei Girotto. Palmeiras improved considerably, but the game also became highly volatile, albeit entertaining. Until Palmeiras concede the goal, that is. Similar to the brace against Inter earlier this week: a mid-range shot from centre-left, seeking the opposite corner of Prass’ goal. São Paulo were more dangerous through and through.

Palmeiras tried to react, but nothing worked. Barrios asked to be substituted, Alecsandro entered. Then Kelvin on Lucas, Marcelo Oliveira desperately trying to find creative sparks in a team where even Gabriel Jesus was unhappy. Nothing indicated a change to the scorecard.

In the dying minute, the ball is passed back to Rogério Ceni. Alecsandro charges forward, the SPFC keeper tries to clear the ball but it deflects off the sole of Alecsandro’s boot before presenting itself to Robinho: the midfielder calmly chips the ball in a wide loop into the net to equal the scorecard. Palmeiras’ 100th goal for the season. And what a goal huh, Rogério? Hilarious. Ironic. In all honesty completely unworthy but who cares: Palmeiras salvage a point and cling on to fourth place.
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What we saw today must not be repeated against Internacional upcoming Wednesday. 20.000 tickets already sold. The game will take place at the Allianz Parque, the grass having recovered sufficiently from the Katy Perry assault. A goalless draw and we’re through to the semifinals.  

 Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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crefisa_jerseyAfter more than two years of drought, with no Brazilian football clubs signing major sponsorship deals with the private sector (the few large deals sealed were all with the public bank Caixa Econômica Federal), Palmeiras today broke the ice by announcing financial institution Crefisa as the club’s Master Sponsor 2015-2016.

The deal will render US$ 8.5 million annually for the club, allowing Crefisa to place their logo on the chest and back of the Palmeiras jersey. Harmonizing in colour and style, the logo looks good against the deep green. Tasteful.

Crefisa was until recently in well advanced negotiations with São Paulo FC, but Palmeiras interfered, making Crefisa shift their focus. “Yes, São Paulo presented an offer, but Palmeiras’ offer was much better, the project is much better. The amounts involved are higher, but the project is very good “, said Crefisa president Leila Pereira at today’s press conference.

crefisa_logoCrefisa was founded in São Paulo in 1964 and is specialised in providing credit to public servants and retired professionals. The company has some 800 offices spread out in Brazil’s 26 states and the Federal District, having served more than 3 million clients throughout the years.

Closing the deal with Crefisa not only re-enforces Palmeiras’ position as THE mark in 2015, but also sets São Paulo FC back both morally and financially: for each month our foe goes without a master sponsor, he’s losing out on some US$ 750.000 in revenues.  

That being said, personally, I would have preferred Palmeiras closing a deal with an internationally recognised brand. The Allianz Parque, the link to the USA through AEG (a partner in Arena operations), the increased international exposure through expected participation in the Libertadores Cup: all these factors and more make me think a multinational brand would have been better suited.

But hey, no more looking back or “ifs”: it’s all about embracing this partnership and making the best of it in the two years to come. Count on Palmeiras’ supporters to do their part: in only a few hours, Crefisa’s twitter account has gone from a couple of hundred to almost 4.000 followers. I’m sure Crefisa’s management are also saying…

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Editorial – the Alan Kardec screw-up

Next to Valdivia and Prass, Alan Kardec is considered the spinal core of the Palmeiras squad. Or rather, was: Kardec is expected to sign with São Paulo FC later this week for a whopping US$155.000 a month. Today, Palmeiras president Paulo Nobre held a press conference, confirming that our archenemy had swept the bride from the altar.

How come one of the most popular and important players in the squad, apparently devoted to Palmeiras and with a clearly expressed desire to renew his contract, jumped the fence? The answer is spelled Paulo Nobre.

No secret Nobre is all about sound, financial austerity: he inherited Palmeiras with already 75% of the 2013 revenues compromised and has made it a priority during his two-year mandate to remedy the Club’s more than precarious financial and administrative condition. All new player contracts and renovations during the Nobre administration have been carefully conducted with the aim of not overshooting budget. No different with Kardec.

The information I have is that Palmeiras were initially offering Kardec some US$75.000 a month in addition to extra revenues based on productivity and achieved goals. This is certainly lower than Kardec, his dad and a second agent involved in the negotiations were expecting. During several weeks, the parts were slowly moving closer, but the negotiations were indeed dragging out, just as they did with those involving Kleina and Leandro.

About a month ago, an agreement was finally reached between Kardec, the agents and Palmeiras’ director of football José Carlos Brunoro: a five-year contract at US$98.000 a month plus the variable revenues. The agreement was brought before Nobre for ratification, but Nobre said no. He wanted to shave off another US$9.000 a month, which would amount to a little more than half a million dollars for the whole extension of the contract. That is quite a lot of money, at least for you and me. However, it’s peanuts considering the larger picture, and peanuts considering Palmeiras’ payroll.

Nobre’s veto turned a done deal into an open affair, infuriating Kardec senior: the players’ father went to the press complaining about the difficult negotiation and said he would now consider other options. That was enough for SPFC to move in on Kardec senior and the agent, offering them double signing bonuses in addition to raising the salary offer to Kardec the player from US$98.000 to US$155.000. Kardec senior didn’t think twice and gave the director his word: my son is signing with SPFC.

As the tables turned, Paulo Nobre must have started sweating bullets. He faced two options: a) cover SPFC’s offer, completely overshooting his budget and destabilising the carefully crafted and implemented scheme with salary based on productivity, or b) let Kardec go, lose face, severely scratch Palmeiras’ image, weaken the squad and infuriate supporters.

Is Kardec worth US$155.000 a month? Most sports journalists would flat out state that he is not. But at this point, the decision was no longer a technical one, but also very much emotional. I believe Paulo Nobre was prepared to go out of his way to reel Kardec back in. Not that if would make any difference: when finally able to speak to the player – who had been sheltered for days by his father and agent – Kardec junior told Nobre that his father had reached a verbal agreement with São Paulo FC and the only way he now could sign with Palmeiras would be if he fired his own father. Curtains down.

nobreAt today’s press conference, Nobre highlighted SPFC’s “unethical behaviour”. Our president needs a reality check. Not only is he a fool if he didn’t see it coming, as he brought it upon himself. It’s difficult to understand how Nobre could veto a reached agreement involving one of the most important players in the squad because of a US$9.000 monthly difference, not foreseeing the ultimate consequences of his, yes, gamble.

Making things worse, it’s not only about Kardec. Palmeiras is a house of cards. The squad was different against Fluminense last Saturday – nervous, introvert, lost – and Palmeiras were beaten fair and square by the one goal at the Pacaembu. Some 12.000 supporters were present: very low numbers considering a home debut return to the first division. Criticism against the Nobre administration on social media has been massive these last few days. There are supporters cancelling their Avanti memberships (which is simply beyond me). Opposition candidates are breathing fresh air. The whole affair could eventually tip the scale in disfavour of Nobre’s re-election (if he opts for running, that is).

In my mind, I believe Palmeiras would (still) be worse off without Nobre in the drivers’ seat. But that all comes down to an ability to not only recognise one’s mistakes but also learn from them. With Nobre’s press conference fresh in my mind, I wonder: is he recognising his mistake? Will he learn from it? Will time tell?

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