Posts Tagged ‘zé roberto’

Palmeiras’ penultimate game this season was also Zé Roberto’s last, the 43-year-old midfielder a few days earlier having announced his retirement from professional football. Naturally, the chosen stage was the Allianz Parque, with Botafogo co-starring and correctly suffering a 2-0 defeat, goals by Dudu and Keno (really worth checking out, highlights below). The result propelled Palmeiras into second place.

Zé Roberto’s career has been extraordinary. 961 club football games for Bayern Munchen, Real Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Hamburg, Grêmio, Flamengo, Santos, Portuguesa, Al-Gharafa and, of course, Palmeiras. In addition, 84 caps for Brazil.

At Palmeiras, he played 133 games as midfielder, sometimes as left defender, and scored 10 goals. He was instrumental in the 2015 Brazil Cup title and the 2016 Brazilian Championship title, exercising supreme leadership on and, in particular, off the pitch. His personal determination to contribute to the elevation of Palmeiras’ grandeur and self-esteem to that of previous glorious decades was surprising, touching and very necessary: like few others, Zé Roberto in a short time fully understood and incorporated Palmeiras into his very self, and in the most professional of ways. Mind you, Zé Roberto is oldest player to pull on our jersey and the oldest to score for Palmeiras. The oldest to score in a Libertadores game and the second oldest to ever have participated in the tournament.

His farewell at the stadium was emotional and worthy. Today, he summed up his life until now with the words “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have remained faithful. And I have left a legacy.” Indeed you have, Zé Roberto. Indeed you have. Thank you!
Upcoming Sunday, against Atlético Paranaense, Alberto Valentin commands the men one last time. Closely observed by Roger Machado, who no doubt is contemplating the squad’s strengths and weaknesses and how he in 2018 will make the best out of Lucas Lima’s arrival.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!
— ooo —
UPDATE: Zé Roberto will be Technical Advisor at Palmeiras as of January 2018. In his new role he will work alongside director of football Alexandre Mattos and his aid Cícero Souza on a number of administrative functions. More importantly, Zé Roberto will also have direct contact with players and coaching staff, facilitating their interaction with the management and vice versa. Alexandre Mattos considers this an important function, much used in European clubs but practically unheard of in Brazil (at the announcement, he gave but one reference: Tinga at Cruzeiro).

This is excellent news. Much good could potentially generate from this arrangement. Congratulations to everyone involved!


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A game of two halves, if you ever saw one.

Quarter-finals of the Brazil Cup, and Cruzeiro rolled all over Palmeiras in the first half, Cuca really asking for it. Zé Roberto on the flank is not a viable option anymore. Adding insult to injury, Cuca placed Edu Dracena by his side: excellent positioning, little pace. Thus, an open invitation for Cruzeiro to excel in fast transitions with the ball on the ground. Things did not go much better on the right flank either, where Fabiano had a bad night.

Although Palmeiras did create some chances in the first five minutes, with 30 minutes on the clock Cruzeiro were fully deserving their 3-0 advantage.

Thankfully, our commander drew the right conclusions and made modifications accordingly: after suffering the third goal, he sacked Fabiano, displacing Tchê Tchê to occupy the position. Zé Roberto was consequently displaced to the centre. And Egídio came on to fill Zé’s position on the left flank. Palmeiras improved.

At half-time, Cuca swapped Guerra for Borja, the midfielder suffering some physical discomfort. Dudu dropped down, more centralised, while Willian opened wide and left, mirroring Guedes on the other flank. With the Allianz Parque in a feverish state, Palmeiras suddenly meshed and equalised the score within 20 minutes: Dudu twice, then Willian.

Cruzeiro were at the ropes but used all their experience to cool down the game, holding on to the result until the final whistle.

Some final remarks:

Cuca is very stubborn. His initial line-up was insane. However, he reads the game well and acts accordingly. Knowing how to use players in different positions allows for much greater tactical tweaking.

Borja and Willian look good together, they grow, they open up space for each other. Borja yesterday was different, more aggressive, and more participatory. In short: instrumental. And more in line with what Cuca envisions.

Dudu is a true leader, captain, the absolute thermometer of the team.

The crowds at the Allianz Parque yesterday were fantastic. Several I spoke with claim it was magical, that never before have the Allianz Parque pulsated like in those first 20 minutes of the second half.

The comeback was spectacular, but the result in itself was not good: in order to advance, Palmeiras will need a victory in Belo Horizonte (or a draw by more than three goals). The second leg is scheduled for end of July: no way of telling in what shape the two sides will be at that point in time.

Grêmio on Saturday, 11th round in the Brasileirão. The current runner-up and Palmeiras are both likely to rest some players ahead of next week’s commitments in the Libertadores Cup. Let us find out who has the stronger squad.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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lease fee

Sunday Palmeiras made their debut in the Paulistão, beating Botafogo/SP by the odd goal, signed Tchê Tchê. It was not a good game, as they never are in the beginning of the season. Still, one could note some differences in the marking, in the more careful ball possession, in the movement of full-backs. Eduardo Baptista is implementing his own style of play, and it will differ considerable from Cuca’s. Upcoming Sunday, away against Ituano, we have another opportunity to observe the transformation.

Tchê Tchê not only scored Sunday’s winner, but also suffered a small fracture to his left shoulder and is out for 4-6 weeks. Good thing Moisés seems fully recovered from the foot surgery and is training well.

Against Botafogo/SP, Zé Roberto played his 100th game in the Palmeiras jersey. Upcoming Sunday, it is Fernando Prass’ turn to celebrate his 200th appearance in green. Giants, both of them.

Speaking of giants: our “little giant” Dudu has extended his contract with Palmeiras for an additional two years, the contract now running until end of 2020. With the extension, his salary has increased and also the release fee.

You will frequently hear both club president Galiotte and director of football Mattos state that “more important than any signing, has been maintaining the squad intact”. One of the few remaining weaker cards from last years’ squad, defensive midfielder Rodrigo, was today announced by Sport on a one-year loan with an option to buy. However, in relation to key players, Palmeiras have made an additional effort, just like with Dudu: a total of six players, including Yerry Mina, have extended their contracts. The hiked release fees work as a deterrent for other clubs, while salary increases are both a recognition of a player’s value and a means to keep him happy as new signings arrive and the inevitable salary comparisons happen.

Today, the Palmeiras squad contains eight players who have served Brazil’s national (Jean, Vitor Hugo, Dracena, Arouca, Zé Roberto, Felipe Melo, Michel Bastos and Dudu); two Colombia’s (Yerry Mina and soon-to-be-announced Miguel Borja), one Paraguay’s (Barrios) and one Venezuela’s (Alejandro Guerra). That is twelve players of National squad quality, twelve!

The squad is not only qualified but also decent-sized, which is important considering the potentially many games and the long travel distances involved in Palmeiras’ 2017 campaign. If Palmeiras were to reach the finals in every competition, a staggering 80 games would be played in the season: São Paulo Championship (18), Libertadores Cup (14), Brazil Cup (8), Brazilian Championship (38), Club World Cup (2).

Now stay tuned for the official announcement of Miguel Borja.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Playing before 40.986 spectators, a new attendance record at the Allianz Parque, Palmeiras were Palmeiras like throughout most of 2016: confident, in control, sufficiently efficient to secure the three points against Chapecoense and the 2016 Brazil championship title. The only goal was right-back Fabiano’s, and what a beautiful goal. His first for Palmeiras, one that will be remembered forever.


Who contributed the most to this title, arriving after 22 long years of waiting?

Jailson, the 35-year-old who had never played a first division game in his life and stepped up in August, when Fernando Prass was injured in late July, to support an 18-games-streak of invincibility?

Dudu, the hotheaded forward who matured after receiving the captain’s armband to become the player with most assists in this year’s edition of the Brasileirão?

Tchê-Tchê, who last year seriously considered abandoning football for the lack of opportunities, today a given on the midfield on any Palmeiras starting eleven?

Moisés, “hidden away” in Croatia, ridiculed upon arriving, today considered the greatest surprise of the championship?

Gabriel Jesus, who’s splendid first half of the championship set the pace for the title race?

Jean, the experienced, polyvalent, hard-working leader?

Yerry Mina, who went straight into the starting eleven, scored, was injured, came back to score more and form a massive centre lock with Vítor Hugo?

Zé Roberto, the living myth, at 42 the heart and soul of the squad, always reminding us of the GIANT called Palmeiras?

Cuca, the prophet, the professional, the father, who knows how to create a family not through external enemies but common aspirations?

Alexandre Mattos, the director of football who contracted all the aforementioned pieces and then some?

Paulo Nobre, the club president who in four years took Palmeiras from rags to riches?

Palmeirenses near and far, tirelessly reinventing the art of supporting the team, standing ground against everything and everyone, including friendly fire?

None. All. That is what is so special about this campaign: it is a truly collective effort like seldom seen. And unbelievably well deserved.
I still need to come down. Pictures and videos of the magnificent celebration – all over São Paulo and all over the world – only in a day or two.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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Last Sunday away against Joinville, Palmeiras reportedly played one of their most uninspiring games of all times: the goalless draw was a sleeping pill from start to finish and not even injecting Valdivia or Kelvin into the formula had any effect. With that, Palmeiras compute two draws in two games in the Brazileirão – certainly not the start foreseen.

This week coach Oswaldo stepped up the pace at practice sessions.

Sunday, at the novel time of 11am, Palmeiras welcome Goiás at the Allianz Parque. An astonishing 30.000 tickets have already been sold. For a Sunday morning game. Against a rather inexpressive opponent. At the start of the championship. Palmeiras are something else.

Speaking of the Allianz Parque, our stadium is once again nominated for an International award, having previously won the 2014 “Stadium of the Year” of the Stadium DataBase and the “Most Spectacular of the Future” by Spanish El Gol Digital. This time, the Allianz Parque is one of the finalists for the “New Venue Award”, of The Stadium Business. Stay tuned.  

Maikon Leite has left the squad to joint Sport of Recife for the remainder of the season. Early in the year, the fast forward enjoyed Oswaldo’s confidence, but soon enough showed his limitations. As Leite’s contract with Palmeiras ends in May of next year, we’ll likely not see him fly our colours anymore. Which is good news.

Change to the squad is not stopping with Leite: a few other players, like Ayrton and Victor Luis, are likely to continue their careers elsewhere. Oswaldo is looking at a reduced squad, but also making room for the 2-3 athletes Alexandre Mattos is expected to bring in for the Brazilian championship.

Then there’s Dudu. You will remember he was shown the red card in the second leg of the Paulistão final against Santos and that in the turmoil that followed on the pitch, he gave the referee a little shove from behind. Well, the almighty Supreme Tribunal of Sports this week sentenced Dudu to a 180 days suspension. Palmeiras’ lawyers will appeal. In similar cases, the initial sentence has been converted to a three-game suspension. Brazilian justice at its best, with zero predictability. Especially as we’re talking Palmeiras.

Well, at least we now know our next adversary in the Brazil Cup: after having drawn twice with Vitória, ASA is the team to beat. The first leg will be played on Wednesday next week, the second leg yet without a date.

Rounding things off with a special mention to all our German fans out there: Zé Roberto promoting the TV Palmeiras youtube channel and its 300K+ subscribers – of course, in German.

Sich freuen, der Sieg ist unser!

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Rio Claro came from two victories, Palmeiras from two defeats: another game a la Ponte Preta, and coach Oswaldo wouldn’t have much peace and quiet, the pressure rising fast as always at Palmeiras. The solid 3-0 victory was needed, showing that Palmeiras – still far from ready – nevertheless have the capacity, as they always should, to dominate these smaller teams. A few hickups in defense again; Oswaldo must dedicate some extra attention here. 

Special mention to:

Alan Patrick – with plenty of personality, he has been pushing it hard game after game, but not always to success, starting to get on supporter’s nerves. Yesterday, he showed his capacity, assisting Cristaldo then Zé Roberto.

Cristaldo – for the first time positioned in the box as a true #9, the player’s killer instinct was highlighted: rapid movements, quick shots.

Zé Roberto – starting off on the left flank, later positioned in the middle, Zé Roberto scored his first goal in the Palmeiras jersey. At the age of 40 and 220 days, he is the oldest scorer in official games in the history of the club. May he break that record numerous times.

Rafael Marques – came in with not many minutes left but did what you’d expect from an attacking midfielder: set the place on fire. He pushed a counter-attack, called on his companions to move their positions forward, set up the piece and finished it all with a controlled strike, closing the scorecard for the night. Marques goes to the history books as the first player to have scored for Palmeiras at both the Palestra Italia and the Allianz Parque.

On Saturday, Palmeiras take on São Bento, away. Arouca is expected to make his debut. And possibly also Gabriel Jesus: the kid got a lucky break and was included in the squad for the Paulistão, as Cleiton Xavier’s papers did not meet the federation’s deadline for the first phase of the competition. I have a feeling Gabriel will make good use of the opportunity.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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It’s been two weeks since the last update: I’ve been taking it easy but Palmeiras haven’t. Actually, it’s Alexandre Mattos and Cícero Souza who’ve been busy, bringing in new players expected to contribute to the spine of Palmeiras’ squad anno 2015. Apart from the three players previously announced – Amaral (Goiás), Vitor Hugo (América/MG) and Lucas (Botafogo) – at least four more players join the squad in January:

xxx_Leandro2Leandro – the 23-year-old striker has signed a five-year contract with Palmeiras, coming in at US$ 1.85 million for 50% of the player’s economic rights. At Chapecoense, Leandro scored ten goals in the second half of the 2014 Brasileirão. Approached firstly by Cruzeiro and Flamengo, Leandro was set for a transfer to rivals Corinthians before Palmeiras made the winning offer.

xxx_girottoAndrei Girotto – the defensive midfielder is the second piece brought in from América/MG and is by many considered one of the most interesting revelations of this years’ second division national championships. Turning 24 in February, Girotto comes on a one-year loan with an option to buy. In addition to his defensive qualities, the 185 cm tall player is known for taking powerful shots from outside the penalty area when opportunities arise.

xxx_gabrielGabriel – the 22-year-old defensive midfielder served Botafogo in 2014 before being released from his contract due to unpaid salaries. Palmeiras’ coach Oswaldo de Oliveira specifically asked for this player, having been responsible for bringing him up to the first team while coaching Botafogo in 2012-2013. Like Leandro, pulled from the claws of Corinthians, Gabriel undergoes medical exams today and should be officially announced next week. Daniel, another former Botafogo midfielder/forward, was also an option but did not pass medical exams at Palmeiras (knee injury, at least three months recovery), ending up at SPFC.

xxx_ze_roberto2Zé Roberto – with clubs like Real Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich on his CV, the veteran midfielder has been back in Brazil since 2012, playing for Grêmio. Despite having reached the age of 40, Zé Roberto is fitter than most and is expected to bring a lot to Palmeiras, both on and off the pitch: his ability to act as a mentor for younger talents is well recognised. The player has signed a one-year contract.

As we can see, so far, the priority has been strengthening the midfield. Palmeiras have been surprisingly active on the market and most sports journalists agree that Palmeiras are doing well, having signed the right players at the right price tag. Palmeiras’ new stance is also propelled by the fact that the club is financially in good shape, after Paulo Nobre’s two years of austerity.  

That being said, a few more players are needed, and of star quality: a playmaker (Conca or Cárdenas on the wish list), a striker (possibly Fred, if price goes down, or Ricardo Oliveira) and a left-back. A centre-back of rank (possibly Réver of Atlético Mineiro) is also on the shortlist. As we enter 2015, Mattos will officially start working for Palmeiras and more aggressively seek to secure the missing pieces of the puzzle. Many of the larger Brazilian clubs are experiencing cash shortage and top players might very well have to adjust their salary expectations in order to meet the new reality.

Out of the 20 (!) Palmeiras players serving other clubs in 2014, two seem more likely to be reintegrated into the squad: striker Maikon Leite (Atlas, Mexico) and defensive midfielder João Denoni (Oeste, Brazil). Personally, I’d like to see Chico (Joinville, Brazil) be given an opportunity as well.

In 2014, no less than 50 players entered the pitch wearing our uniform, and 39 of these still remain at Palmeiras. Coach Oliveira has indicated he is aiming for a squad of 34: four goalkeepers and three players for each remaining position, the third options for each position being a junior player. Needless to say, several players will walk the plank. A few have already settled their destinations: defensive midfielder Marcelo Oliveira is heading for Grêmio; keeper Deola plays for Fortaleza next year; Wesley should be pulling on the SPFC jersey; and Lúcio might be looking at ending his long, brilliant career in China.

2014 top scorer Henrique has not reached an agreement with Palmeiras and is now considering his options. Several other players will also see their contracts expire this year, without outlook for renovation: Victorino, Eguren, Washington, Wendel, Juninho, Bruno César, Bernardo and Diogo. Light-heartedly I see them depart, except for Victorino, who perhaps deserves a second opportunity.

To round things off, the Gabriel Fernando soap opera. The kid, who now prefers to be called Gabriel Jesus, signed a new contract shortly before Christmas, extending his stay at Palmeiras for another five years. This is obviously great news: Gabriel is considered Palmeiras’ greatest revelation in many years and was this year’s top scorer of the São Paulo U17 championship with an amazing 37 goals in 22 games.

The bitter aftertaste originates from Palmeiras’ inability to close the deal early: again, blame Paulo Nobre, who let negotiations drag on for a full nine months. The original proposal from the player’s agents in March were for a salary starting at US$ 2.200 per month, increasing to US$ 3.000 the second year then US$ 4.400 the third. In the proposal, Palmeiras’ 75% share in the player would drop to 60%, while the agents would grow their percentage from 25% to 40%.

Nobre made a first counter-proposal only three months later. And while negotiations dragged on, Gabriel Jesus started to attract evermore attention. Naturally, the kid’s agents got bolder and bolder. The deal sealed earlier this month stipulates monthly salaries starting at roughly US$ 5.500, then, US$ 9.300, US$ 13.000, US$ 16.700 and US$ 22.200 for the four consecutive years. Much more unfortunate: Palmeiras’ share in the player has dropped from 75% to 30%, meaning the club will receive considerably less if/when the player transfers to another club.

Actually, Palmeiras came very close to losing Gabriel Jesus altogether, as his agents were more than fed up with the hassling (although they, of course, had their share in it). In the end, Gabriel Jesus’ personal wish to remain at Palmeiras was the determining factor.

Paulo Nobre enjoying his lucky break.

Paulo Nobre enjoying his lucky break.

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

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