Saturday, 21 May 2011

Brasileirão In Focus: Palmeiras

The team of the green half of São Paulo, Palmeiras are one of the most successful teams in Brazilian football history, having won the most national championships (8, tied with Santos). Since the return of talismanic coach Luiz Felipe Scolari (Felipão in Brazil), they have made steady progress after a disappointing phase.

This year they finished 2nd in the main stage of the Campeonato Paulista, boasting a superb defensive record, but they lost in the semi-finals on penalties to arch rivals Corinthians. Their performance in the Copa do Brasil was not so great either, as they were eliminated by Coritiba at the quarter-final stage after losing 6-0 away from home, a result that plunged the team in to a mini-crisis.

There is no doubt that there are some problems in the team, but I feel they may be slightly overstated. The Verdão have some of the best talents in the league, but there always seems to be a problem with them. For example, in central midfield, Marcos Assunção is still one of the best set-piece experts in the country, and provides a deadly threat from long shots, but it would appear that he has lost his legs and is no longer able to do the work required of a defensive midfielder in this Palmeiras side, so he often ends up being a burden to the team.

Another example is Chilean attacking midfielder Jorge Valdivia. El Mago is a stunningly talented player, and on his day he is capable of picking apart any defence in Brasil, but his form has been erratic and he has been extremely injury prone. In attack, Kléber is one of the best players in the league, extremely hard-working and dedicated (explaining his nickname, o Gladiador) but he is so often relied on too much, and left isolated up front, due to having to play there by himself.

Last month the club signed Wellington Paulista, who formed a successful strike partnership with Kléber while the two were at Cruzeiro, and he will be expected to start as the main centre-forward with Kléber playing off of him. Another positive is the signing of Santos’ very impressive young forward Maikon Leite, who will join in July. These additions should improve the attack as a whole, but perhaps more importantly, will help to take a little of the pressure off of Kléber.

Palmeiras play a 4-4-2 formation, and with everyone fit and available, they would play with Valdivia and young Patrik behind the forwards Kléber and Wellington Paulista. This current ‘crisis’ at Palmeiras may have come just at the right time, as the problems in the squad have been identified before it is too late for their season. They do not have as good a squad as some of their league rivals, but with Felipão on the bench, they should perform well enough over the course of the season to achieve a good finish.

Expected formation:
football formations


Post a Comment