Atletico Mineiro v Goias
After six matches without a win, a change of manager and an exit from the Copa Libertadores, Atletico Mineiro finally returned to winning ways last time out, in a 1-0 triumph over Coritiba away from home. It looked like Atletico were going to go winless in seven, until a stoppage-time header from Alan Kardec was enough to secure the three points. The win was the perfect way to bounce back from their penalty shootout loss to Palmeiras. The only negative of Galo’s performance was that they weren’t clinical enough. They had an XG of 3.16 compared to Coritiba’s 0.67. They will be hoping they have their shooting boots on here, as they look to work their way up the table. The only absentee for Galo is injured midfielder Otavio.
Galo’s opponents are an out-of-form Goias side, who have only won one of their last seven matches. They currently sit in 13th place, just three points above the drop zone. Last weekend, they took on fellow strugglers Avai at home. Goias failed to take home advantage and had to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw, a result they can’t have too many complaints about as they had an XG of 1.12 compared to Avai’s 1.75. Esmeraldino will need to put in a much better display if they want anything from this outing. The away side will be without Savio, who was suspended after seeing red last time out. Lucas Halter should be the man to replace him at left-back.
Their win last weekend will have given Cuca’s boys a much-needed lift which they will take into this match. Goias have the fifth worst away record in the league and it doesn’t look like they’re going to improve anytime soon. This is the perfect opportunity for Galo to make it back-to-back wins, with a comfortable win.
Fluminense v Coritiba
On Saturday evening, fourth place Fluminense hosts 18th place Coritiba at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
After going unbeaten in 13 matches, Fluminense have had a minor dip in form over the last seven days and will be eager to get back on the right track here. First, they travelled to Porto Alegre to take on Internacional. Flu put in one of their worst displays under manager Fernando Diniz, with a 3-0 loss. They had 68% of the ball, which is expected from a Diniz side, but they failed to register a single effort on target. Their XG for the game was at 0.46 compared to Inter’s 2.51. This was the first time in five matches that Flu had been outperformed on expected goals. In midweek, there was some slight redemption as their 2-2 draw with Fortaleza, saw them move into the semi-finals of the Copa do Brasil with an aggregate score of 3-2. After falling two goals behind, Flu showed resilience to fight back, which should give them confidence coming into this battle.
Coritiba are going through a rough patch at the moment and need to improve their form if they want to climb out of the bottom four. They have lost five of their last six matches and their 1-0 defeat to Atletico Mineiro at the weekend, sparked the end for Paraguayan Manager Gustavo Moringo. Guto Ferreira has been named the new Coxa boss and he will be hoping that his players can hit the ground running. He has already made a huge call this week by making Thonny Anderson and Neilton train separately from the first-team squad. Coritiba will be without Willian Farias and Luciano Castan due to suspension.
Coming into this game, despite their slight dip in form over the last week, Fluminense will feel extremely confident that they can pick up the three points here. Coritiba allowed Atletico Mineiro to an XG of 3.16 last time out, and if they allow similar scoring chances here, Flu’s in-form German Cano will be licking his lips.
Palmeiras v Flamengo
One of the games of the week sees Palmeiras host Flamengo at Allianz Parque on Sunday evening, in a huge top-of-the-table clash in the Brasilerao.
Abel Ferreira’s men have had five training sessions to prepare for the game here with no midweek distraction. They currently lead the way in the Brazilian Serie A by nine points with; 14 wins, six draws and two losses from their 22 games. Last time out, they took on bitter rivals Corinthians away from home, in a cagey affair. Palmeiras’ game plan was to sit back and try not to take too many risks as they could afford to draw. It took a second-half mistake from Corinthians’ Roni to open the scoring, which was enough to give Palmeiras the three points and more or less end Timão’s title hopes. Abel Ferreira is likely to adopt the same method here, as they have the advantage in the league table and a draw here would be a better result for them than it would be for Flamengo. In the Copa Libertadores final last year, Palmeiras stunned Flamengo by coming out of the blocks flying, something they hadn’t done previously. This is unlikely to happen again as Palmeiras won’t want to take too many risks against a Flamengo side looking unstoppable under Dorival Junior.
Flamengo are on an unbeaten run of eleven matches without losing, in this period they have won ten; scoring 25 and only conceding twice. Their last league outing saw them enjoy a 5-0 rout of Athletico Paranaense, thanks to five second-half goals. They racked up an XG of 3.04 and limited Athletico to 0.16, this is despite making several changes from the side that started in the Copa Libertadores. Then in midweek, they earned another win over Athletico, this time in the Copa do Brasil. A 1-0 win away from home was enough to see them reach the Semi-final stage. They will feel hopeful that they can earn what would be a huge three points here.
Like the last few matches involving Palmeiras, the game is likely to be a cagey affair. Flamengo is the side that needs to win as they are nine points adrift from Palmeiras. The hosts’ will look to hit Flamengo on the break. Both sides have strong defences and that is likely to show in this outing.
Red Bull Bragantino v Ceara
Ninth place Red-Bull Bragantino take on 14th place Ceara in what will be an interesting affair at the Nabi Abi Chedid Stadium in Bragança Paulista.
Bragantino come into this came in mixed form. After three wins on the spin, they have lost three of their last four matches. Last weekend, Bragantino took on state rivals Sao Paulo away from home, they went into the game with a full week to prepare for the match, whereas São Paulo had been in midweek action. Despite this, it was Sao Paulo who looked fresher as they ran out 3-0 winners. Bragantino were simply way off the mark, putting up an XG of just 0.34 compared to their opponents’ 1.68. They must perform way better here if they want anything out of the game. Massa Bruta have a strong home record to boast however, the seventh best in the league with; six wins, two draws and three defeats. They come into this game having won their last three matches at the Nabi Abi Chedid. A welcome return for the hosts is centre-back Natan, who missed the defeat to Sao Paulo due to suspension.
Things have gone from bad to worse in recent weeks for Ceara, which has eventually sparked the end for Marquinhos Santos, who was relieved of his duties following their 1-0 defeat to rivals Fortaleza last Sunday. Their XG of 0.86 compared to Fortaleza’s 2.02 sums up their performance as they struggled to get into the game. With Santos sacked, Ceara, at the time of writing, are yet to replace him. Assistant Juca Antonello has been taking charge of training this week and is likely to be the man in the dugout at the weekend. Antonello hasn’t had an easy week either… On Tuesday, some upset fans throw a homemade bomb into the carpark at the training ground, thankfully nobody was injured and there were no vehicles damaged. The mood at Ceara at the moment is far from pleasant.
In more positive news, Vozão do have some key players returning in; Ze Roberto, Luiz Otavio and Messias, which could give them a boost. They were suspended for the clash with Fortaleza.
With both sides in a mixed vein of form, it’s hard to predict who will come out on top… In three of Ceara’s last four away matches with Bragantino, there have been over 1.5 goals. With both sides being strong on the break, the chances of another match with more than 1.5 goals is well on the cards here.
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