Have clipboard, will travel

Billy Martin plus Larry Brown does not come close to matching Palmeiras’ Vanderlei Luxemburgo in wanderlust or transience.

The late Martin was hired nine times as a Major League Baseball manager, five by the New York Yankees. Brown, who just turned 80, coached 14 collegiate hoops programs or professional teams.

In his 37-year career, the 68-year-old Luxemburgo has been hired 35 times by soccer outfits. Ricky Nelson’s “Travelin’ Man” is his life’s theme.

Born in Nova Iguaçu, about 20 miles northwest of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches in Rio de Janeiro, much of his travelin’ has been between Rio and São Paulo. There were stints in Saudi Arabia (Al-Ittihad), Spain (Real Madrid) and China (Tianjin Quanjian). His run with Brazil’s national team ended ignominiously, with a two-man advantage in extra time of a quarterfinal defeat to eventual gold medal-winning Cameroon at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Then he went back to Corinthians, his gig before guiding a Seleção — the hip nickname, meaning “the Selection,” of Brazil’s national side.

He has won a record five Brasileirão Série A titles, but he makes Gen. Douglas MacArthur resemble a recluse — Luxemburgo returns, and returns, and returns, having coached five Brazil clubs multiple times.

His hundreds of silk shirts and closetful of Savile Row suits gave him requisite panache when he went to Real Madrid on the next-to-last day of 2004. He was acutely aware that Europe was far fonder of Brazilian players than Brazilian coaches.

“I had already won a lot in Brazil,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I needed new motivation … to prove to Europeans that Brazilian coaches are good, too.”

Luxemburgo operates to his own Samba beat. Upon landing in Madrid, he said of fellow countryman Ronaldo, “He doesn’t like to train much, but believe me … he will suffer!” He unveiled an odd 4-2-2-2 formation, in another match he employed seven defenders.

That ridiculous roster also included David Beckham, Michael Owen, Zinédine Zidane, Luís Figo, Roberto Carlos and Raúl, during the gaudy spending-spree reign — called Galácticos — of former Real president Florentino Pérez.

The end was nigh when the Bernabeu audience began waving white hankies en masse, chanting, “Out! Out! Out!” It ended Dec. 5, 2005, not even lasting 12 months.

Luxemburgo’s bags are always packed. He went to Santos for a third time, to Palmeiras for a fourth occasion and then back to Santos. In December, he left Vasco da Gama claiming the Rio club failed to meet “his ambition.”

Two days later, Palmeiras hired him for the fifth time. The underdog price on him lasting the contracted 24 months at the wildly popular São Paulo squad must be sweet, just don’t take the bait.

Palmeiras has been the highlight of his career, where he won back-to-back crowns in 1993 and ’94. Figo didn’t care for Luxemburgo, but he was Rivaldo’s favorite boss. “Everything the coaches do in Europe nowadays, you did 25 years ago,” Rivaldo told the Spanish daily Marca last month.

In the 20-team Brasileirão Série A, Palmeiras (4-0-6) is the only side without a defeat. Heading into its Copa Libertadores match Thursday at Paraguayan side Guarani, a Verdão (the Big Green) is 16-2-11 under Luxemburgo in 2020. Palmeiras, most certainly, meets his ambition.


Necaxa at Pumas -115: Necaxa is 0-3-1 on the road, with only two goals, and sports a five-match losing streak. Pumas entered the week as Mexico’s only side without a defeat, and they are 4-0-2 (with a 15-5 goals advantage) inside their Estadio Olímpico Universitario in Mexico City. Pumas’ 38-year-old keeper Alfredo Talavera has allowed only one of 10 shots by him in his past three at Olímpico. PUMAS


Flamengo at Palmeiras +120: This is a terrible road stretch for Flamengo, which got goose-egged Sept. 13 at fellow Série A side Ceara (2-0) and against Independiente del Valle (5-0) on Friday in the Copa Libertadores, in the lung-scorching 9,350-foot elevation of Quito, Ecuador. It remained in Ecuador to play Barcelona SC in the Libertadores on Tuesday.

Palmeiras has lost only two of its past 38 at Allianz Parque in São Paulo, an élite home run deserving of mention with Liverpool, Juventus and PSG. PALMEIRAS

Bayern Munich at Hoffenheim, Total 3.5 -156: In five of the past six in this series, Munich alone has rung up 21 goals, a 4.2 average. It’s very early, but these are the top two Bundesliga sides in expected goals per 90 minutes — Munich at 5.05, Hoffenheim 2.99. OVER

Last week: 0-1-1

Season: 5-5-1 

About the Author
Rob Miech

Rob Miech

Rob Miech is a sports betting writer at Gaming Today who covers soccer and specializes in features content. He has written about college hoops for the Las Vegas Sun, CBS SportsLine and the Pasadena Star-News. Miech is the author of four books, including Sports Betting for Winners.

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