Friday, 4 March 2011

Q&A: Miguel Bianconi

Today, I thought I’d do something different. Recently I’ve been talking a lot about the Copa São Paulo which took place in January. My initial plan was to pick out some players that I was impressed by, and give a little bit of a scout report on each one, letting you know what to expect when they make their move into the big leagues. But I had a better idea. One of the players I was going to write about, Miguel Bianconi of Palmeiras, has recently been promoted to the first team and he made his debut last week in the Copa do Brasil.

Instead of just writing about him from my point of view, I decided to get in touch with young Miguel, and I am now proud to present the first (of many hopefully) player interview exclusively for I Like Football Me.


I caught up with Miguel on Monday afternoon, not long after training, only one day after heavy rain in the city of São Paulo gave us these scenes in the stands of the Estádio do Morumbi for the São Paulo x Palmeiras derby. (I also must mention that the interview was conducted completely in Portuguese, and then translated back to English)

I Like Football Me: Good afternoon Miguel, thanks for taking the time out to speak to me. Good training session today?
Miguel: Yeah, training was good. It’s a pity that it was raining so much.

ILFM: Well you do live in São Paulo, you’ll be used to it by now.
Miguel: That’s true.

ILFM: Ok let’s begin shall we? Recently you were promoted to the first team squad at Palmeiras. What has it been like for you to train with the idols of the team like Marcos, Kléber, Valdivia, and to work under such a renowned manager as Luiz Felipe Scolari?
Miguel: It’s very important for my career to begin with such successful players like Marcos, Kléber and Valdivia and to be working with the best manager in the world. I just have to thank God for this opportunity and I’m going to make the most of it.

ILFM: Last week, you were called up to the squad for the first time for the Copa do Brasil match against Comercial in Piauí. What was that whole experience like for you? To travel with the squad, to play in front of the fans…
Miguel: It was really cool and very exciting. A really incredible experience for me. I hope it’s the first of many, but more importantly the team got the victory, and that puts us in a great position for the second leg! (Note: Palmeiras won the second leg 5-1)

ILFM: Palmeiras have made a good start to 2011. The team is playing well, the defence looks strong, and you are sitting in a good position in the Campeonato Paulista, only one point off the top. Do you think the team can continue like this throughout the 2011 season?
Miguel: I am certain that we can. We have a great squad and because we are Palmeiras we always have to be looking for victories and especially we have to win titles. We know that it will be very difficult, but with our ability and the help of the supporters, we will go on and win trophies.

ILFM: That’s music to my ears Miguel. Ok moving on, to play for a big club in Brazil, especially in São Paulo, can bring a lot of pressure to the players on and off the pitch. Recently we saw Roberto Carlos leaving Corinthians for Anzhi Makhachkala of Russia, citing “personal safety” as one of the reasons for his exit. Do you feel you would be prepared to deal with that kind of pressure at Palmeiras?
Miguel: I don’t think I am, I am sure I am! This past year in the youth squads I have been preparing a lot both technically and psychologically. Of course I know that the fan pressure at Palmeiras is massive, but I’m sure that over time I will show them my worth in the squad and then hopefully I’ll have formed a good relationship with the fans.

ILFM: This year was your second year playing for Palmeiras in the Copinha (Copa São Paulo de Juniores). Last year, you scored twice as the team got to the semi-finals. I watched you play in this year’s Copinha, and you improved your performance and scored four goals. What aspects of your game do you think you have improved upon since last year?
Miguel: I know that my in first Copinha, I didn’t play much for the team, I focused on my own performance more. But this year, I played looser, I dropped deep to get the ball, generally I moved around a lot more, trying to help the team. Thank God it went very well and today I am in the first team. The improvement was all thanks to the coaches who trusted in my ability and supported me every step of the way.

ILFM: Continuing with the Copinha, I was impressed by several players in the Palmeiras team, (Patrick Vieira, Bruno, Vitor and yourself of course!) do you think there are any players in this team that can have a big future at Palmeiras?
Miguel: Definitely. Palmeiras have done a very good job with the youth team, and we will be enjoying the fruits of their labour very soon. I’ve started the year in the professional squad, and hopefully I can stay there!

ILFM: That definitely sounds positive. Are there any players in particular you think will shine?
Miguel: Patrick Vieira, Paulinho and Peterson. Great players that can bring the joy that the supporters and the directors are always looking for.

ILFM: You are a strong, energetic and tenacious attacker who plays at Palmeiras. Naturally the media like to compare you with Palmeiras’ idol Kléber. What do you think about these comparisons between you and O Gladiador?
Miguel: I think that it’s too early for all of this. Kléber is an established footballer, and I am just starting out. I hope to one day win what he has won, and principally I would love to be a hero at Palmeiras like he is. Sure, I have a long way to go, but with the help of God I can get there.

ILFM: Brazilian football loves “the craque”, the idol of the team. Who is your craque? A player who you admire more than any other.
Miguel: My idol in football is Ronaldo. Just for everything that he won in his entire career while having to overcome so many obstacles at the same time.

ILFM: Brazil is absolutely obsessed with football, there are matches from all over the world on television every day. Do you watch much football from outside of Brazil?
Miguel: Yeah I do. I really like Bayern Munich in Germany, they have quick, light players but at the same time they have big, strong players. The team is really good in the Champions League, and recently they have been good in the Bundesliga as well. Basically, I watch a lot when I have days off, and I try my best to learn from them.

ILFM: Footballers can often be quite superstitious and ritualistic people, especially on matchdays. For example, goalkeepers in Brazil will almost always pray on their goal-line at the start and end of each half, and players often have a pair of boots, shinpads or even underwear that they regard as their “lucky pair”. Do you have any superstitions or rituals that you go through on matchdays?
Miguel: No I don’t. I believe in God and I have a lot of trust in Him, my family are Evangelists and I learned to hand over my career into the hands of God, and to allow Him to resolve it. I think that this business of superstitions has nothing to it, but of course I respect those who have them.

ILFM: Excellent, now finally some quick-fire questions to finish off:

Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?- Messi
Copa Libertadores or Champions League?- Champions League
Volleyball or MMA?- Volleyball
Twitter or Orkut?- Twitter
Feijoada or pizza?- Pizza
Faustão or Gugu?- Neither! I don’t watch any of them.
Funk or Sertanejo?- Again, neither. I like gospel music mainly.
And finally, an easy question…. Pelé or Maradona?- Pelé.

ILFM: Thanks so much for speaking to me today Miguel. Good luck in your future, I’ll be cheering for you!
Miguel: No problem, bye for now. God bless.