Athletico Paranaense v Palmeiras
Both sides come into the match with contrasting ambitions… Athletico Paranaense have their eyes on Saturday’s Copa Libertadores final, whilst Palmeiras are fully focused on the job at hand, in what could be a title securing matchweek for them.
Athletico Paranaense come into this game sitting in sixth place in the Brasileirão and are with only two wins in nine matches since beating Palmeiras over two-legs in the Copa Libertadores Semi-finals. Last time out, they took on Bragantino away from home, using a mixed side of regular starting and fringe players. Athletico suffered a 4-2 loss, after a disappointing first half. Athletico were below their opponents on expected goals for the second match in a row, they’ll be eager to be more creative in the coming weeks. With their Copa Libertadores final on Saturday against Flamengo, Luis Felipe Scolari is expected to change his full 11 to ensure that Athletico will be in top notch condition in Guayaquil, which makes Palmeiras huge favourites for the points here.
Palmeiras could be crowned champions this week if they pick up the points and Internacional and Corinthians fail to win their matches. After Inter slipped up at the weekend, Palmeiras now lead the way in Brazil by ten points with only five games remaining. It’s a matter of when, not if, regarding whether or not Palmeiras will lift the league title. On Saturday evening, after two winless matches, Palmeiras enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 victory over Avai with a dominant performance. Their XG for the match was a staggering 4.02, whilst limiting their opponents to an XG of 1.09. This was the fifth match on the spin that Palmeiras had the better expected goals than their opponents. Murilo was suspended for the last match, he is expected to return to the starting line-up in this clash, with Luan Garcia dropping back to the bench, this is likely to be the only change to the starting XI from the win over Avai.
With Athletico Paranaense fielding a much-weakened team here, Palmeiras will be very confident of picking up the points, in what should be a relatively straight forward evening for Abel Ferreira’s men.
Internacional v Ceará
Internacional host Ceará at the Estádio Beira-Rio in what is an important game at both ends of the table. Inter will be hoping to extend their unbeaten run, whilst Ceará will be eager to end a run of seven matches without a victory.
International’s title hopes are hanging on by the barest of margins. They trail Palmeiras by ten points and know it would take something more than a miracle for them to be crowned champions of Brazil. Despite this, they will still be hoping for a second-place finish, as they seek a place in next season’s Copa Libertadores. On Sunday, after falling behind to a Luciano Castan goal, Vitao equalized to ensure that Inter didn’t leave Curitiba empty handed. The Porto Alegre side are currently unbeaten in 12 matches, something they will be keen on extending. Inter had a better expected goals than their opponents for the third match on the spin with 1.28 compared to Coritiba’s lowly 0.65.
It’s a complete contrast for Ceará who are in real trouble of playing Serie B football next season if they don’t improve their result. Voazo are without a victory in their last seven matches with: Four defeats and a draw. It’s a run of form which has seen Lucho Gonzalez’s men drop to 16th in the league standings as they sit just one point above the drop zone. On Sunday evening, after three draws on the spin, Ceará conceded an early goal away from home against Atletico Goianiense and that was all the host’s needed to secure the points. Ceará had most of the possession but could only register two shots on target compared to Atletico’s five, they simply must improve in the coming weeks. They will be without Richardson, who is suspended here and top-scorer, Steven Mendoza is a doubt with an injury, which makes the Fortaleza clubs task significantly trickier.
Ceará haven’t beaten Internacional in five matches and with the form they’re currently in, that’s unlikely to change here. Inter should pile further misery on their opponents in this clash.
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