Aventuras Américas | Part 28 | Robinho Lazaró’s Biggest Opportunity So Far

We’re embarking on club 8 on this journey, so we thought a few bookmarks for previous teams along the way might be helpful. Feel free to begin the Aventuras Américas journey at the job hunt stage, club 1 Puerto Montt, club 2 Universidad Católica, club 3 New York Red Bulls, club 4 River Plate Montevideo, club 5 América de Cal, club 6 Alianza Lima, and club 7 Puebla FC.

Robinho Lazaró had a season to remember in 2033/34 as his Puebla FC side defended their Liga MX Clausura title and wrapped up a treble by lifting the Champions Trophy and Campeones Cup. However, they just missed out on the CONCACAF Champions League in the final.

As a result, Lazaró was willing to stay in México. That was until a massive opportunity arrived as Brazilian side Grêmio offered an interview and made him a job offer. However, they only had a £4.4 million transfer budget, suggested financial issues in the interview and offered less wages than he was already on, so Lazaró turned the offer down. A week later, after the World Cup, he received offers from Argentina – which as a Colombian / Brazilian wasn’t ideal – and Colombia. But, as tempting as the Colombian offer was, he still wasn’t ready to dip his toes into international management.

But then an opportunity arrived that was probably too big to turn down. Brazilian giants Palmeiras won the league back in 2028 but found themselves outside the top half this season – and sacked their manager. Lazaró was instantly linked to the job and was offered an interview, which went well and he was offered the role. Again, he had major concerns about the finances, but you can’t say no to Palmeiras can you?

Lazaró couldn’t as, on 5 August 2034, he agreed a £6,500-per-week two-year deal to move to Brazil for the first time and become manager of Palmeiras. That saw him join club eight in country seven on his Aventuras Américas journey. It also offered him the opportunity to move closer to his father, who lived in Rio de Janeiro and wouldn’t be happy with this development as he was a huge Flamengo fan!

Who are Palmeiras?

Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras is a professional Brazilian club based in Sao Paulo. It’s an 11-time champion of Brazil and three-time South American champion, last winning both Serie A and Copa Libertadores in 2028, and 26-time Sao Paulo State winner. Palmeiras is widely considered among the most popular Brazilian teams with an estimated 18 million supporters and 126,000 affiliated fans. The club’s record number of Serie A titles has been surpassed by Corinthians (13) during this save.

Palmeiras was founded by Italian immigrants in August 1914 and was first known as Palestra Itália, but changed its name in September 1942 when Brazil joined the Allies to fight against Italy in World War 2.

The club has counted all manner of household names amongst its former players, including Rivaldo, Mazinho, Edmundo, Zé Roberto, César Sampaio and 1960s superstar Ademir de Guia. While Lazaró’s predecessors include Wanderlei Luxembergo Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Palmeiras has fierce local rivalries with Corinthians, Sao Paulo and Santos and a competitive rivalry with Flamengo. They play at the 43,603-capacity Allianz Parque, which was built for the 2014 World Cup, has exceptional youth recruitment, excellent academy coaching and training facilities and good youth facilities. However, the finances aren’t pretty with -£12 million in the bank and only £2.4 million to spend.

Lazaró’s new board wants him to sign high-reputation players, qualify for Copa Libertadores, reach the semi-finals of the Libertadores and the Copa do Brasil. They also want him to make the club “the best of the rest” by the end of next season.

Meet the Palmeiras squad

The main man at Palmeiras was the most high-profile player Lazaró had worked with so far, Brazil international striker Brenner. He left Cincinnati in 2023 and has since scored an incredible club-record 258 goals in 452 league games for Palmeiras. Now 34, he remains a very good striker and is the joint-top scorer in Serie A. Another recognisable name is right-back/midfielder Gabriel Menino, who’s racked up a club-record 626 league appearances for the club.

Other key players include right-back Oscar Longoni, homegrown 5ft 5in attacking midfielder Jonathan Bernardo, winger and captain Ali Mehri, who came through at Inter Milan, and former Benfica attacking midfielder Joao Neto.

The club also has plenty of exciting young talent, the pick of which is left winger Beto, along with midfielder Patryck, left-back Denis and 17-year-old attacking midfielder Paulo Romário. And it looked like there was plenty more to come thanks to an exciting-sounding youth intake.

Lazaró noticed a distinct lack of quality at centre-back and on the wings, but a clear strength through the middle of the pitch. With that in mind, he decided the Christmas Tree 4-3-2-1 formation he used at Alianza Lima might be a really nice fit with a few role tweaks.

Straight into Serie A

After 14 games of the 38 game season, Palmerias sat in a disappointing 11th place but were only four points behind fifth-place Vasco da Gama. The media predict them to finish fourth at 20/1 to win the title, some way behind favourites Corinthians (13/8), Santos (9/4) and Flamengo (12/1).

Lazaró had two days to prepare for his Palmeiras debut as they welcomed rivals and league leaders Santos to town, then faced three games in his first five days! A close game with Santos ended 0-0, although Lazaró was pleased his side had the best of it and all the chances. Another home game followed two days later against Bragantino and, after a poor first half, they fell behind early in the second. But Brenner created a delicious Bernardo equaliser before scoring the winner seven minutes later.

A run against teams in the bottom five followed, beginning with a 2-0 win at Cruzeiro in Lazaró’s first away game. That was followed by an eight-goal thriller as a brace from backup striker Gabriel Veron led a 5-3 win over América Mineiro. He was replaced by Brenner, who scored a brace of his own and create one for Neto in a 4-1 win at bottom side Chapecoense. That took Palmeiras to 10 games unbeaten and up to fifth in the league.

Copa Libertadores knockouts

Palmeiras had already progressed to the quarter-final stage of the Libertadores, which was formed of six Brazilian sides plus River and Boca. So they unsurprisingly had Brazilian opponents in Vasco. The away leg was first and Vasco won a shocking match 1-0. Palmeiras weren’t much better at home, gifting an early goal to Lazaró’s former Alianza striker Fredy Méndez, missing a host of chances and losing 2-1. So the Libertadores remains very much elusive.

Therefore, all eyes were on domestic matters for the second half of the season. A slight pick up in form under Lazaró had lifted Palmeiras to sixth in Serie A. They trailed the top two Corinthians and Santos by 11 points but were very much in the mix for the top five, which would seal direct qualification for the Libertadores group stage.

Join us next time as Robinho Lazaró looks to imprint his style and approach on his new team at Palmeiras!


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