Avai v Atletico Mineiro
Avai and Atletico Mineiro will be hoping for victory here, something both sides have struggled to do consistently in the last few weeks.
Avai are desperate for a win of any kind, something they haven’t done in their last nine matches. Last time out, they took on Athletico Paranaense away from home and earned a decent point, but with their record, and the fact Athletico played the majority of the second half with ten men, it will have left them disappointed. Their XG was better than Athletico’s with 1.84 compared to 1.18, something which will give them a slight bit of confidence coming into this outing. Failure to win, sparked the end for manager Eduardo Barroca who was sacked and replaced by Lisca on Tuesday. Just 24 hours prior, Lisca mutually agreed to leave Santos, following a run of poor results. He will be hoping that he can be the man to change the fortunes of Avai, who currently sit in the bottom four. He will have the returns of Kevin and Bissoli who missed the draw with Athletico, but Matheus Galezani misses out due to a ban.
Atletico Mineiro have only won two of their last nine matches and will be keen for an improvement in performance here. After beating Atletico Goianiense on the road, Galo were held by Bragantino in a 1-1 draw last time out. They had a greater XG than their opponent for the second game in a row, but this time failed to provide a cutting edge that would have secured them the points. They have had over a week to prepare for the game here and should use that to their advantage. Guilherme Arana, who was likely to be in the Brazil squad for the upcoming World Cup, suffered a knee injury in the dying embers of the match against Bragantino, which has ruled him out for the season. Dodo is likely to replace him for the remainder of the season.
With both sides struggling for wins at the moment, it’s hard to back either side coming into this one, but one thing which could be on the cards is both teams scoring. Avai have scored 18 and shipped in 17 at home this season, whilst Galo have found the net 15 times and conceded 14 on the road.
Flamengo v Fluminense
The battle of Rio de Janeiro takes place this Sunday, as Flamengo host Fluminense in the latest edition of the Fla-Flu derby. Both sides come into the match on equal points, adding extra tension to the already heated affair. A loss for either team, would all but end their title hopes.
Flamengo’s league form has dipped slightly over the last few weeks, which can be put down to the heavy schedule, although they do have plenty of depth within their side and will still be frustrated at dropping points. Last weekend, they took on Goias, away from home and drew 1-1. After failing a goal behind in the 81st minute, Matheus Franca replied moments later, ensuring Flamengo extended their unbeaten run to 18 matches in all competitions. Their XG was higher than their opponents for the third league match in a row, with 1.78 compared to Goias’ 1.04. Then in midweek, they made it 19 games without defeat as they saw off Sao Paulo in the Copa do Brasil with a 1-0 win, 4-1 over two legs. The Rubro Negro come into this game beaming with confidence, they have made it to two finals and will now be hoping to keep the pressure on Palmeiras in the league.
Fernando Diniz Fluminense finally returned to winning ways after three matches in all competitions without a win. They played host to Fortaleza and a wonderful brace from top scorer, German Cano earned them an important three points. Flu currently sit fourth in the league, nine points of the league leaders Palmeiras, they sit below Flamengo on goal difference. Despite their win at the weekend, their XG was slightly below Fortaleza at 1.88 compared to 2.10. They simply cannot afford to give Flamengo similar opportunities in this game as they will likely be punished. In midweek, they suffered a 3-0 loss to Corinthians, which ended their Copa do Brasil hopes.
With Flamengo enjoying victory in midweek, their confidence will be high, and they should use that to extend their unbeaten run to 20 games here.
Palmeiras v Santos
One of the games of the weekend in Brazil, sees Palmeiras host rivals Santos in the latest edition of the Clássico da Saudade. Earlier on in the season, it was Verdão who enjoyed a wonderful day away from home, thanks to their Paraguayan Captain, Gustavo Gomez, who helped them to a 1-0 victory, something they’ll be keen on emulating here.
The league leaders have had a slight dip in form in recent weeks but will have been relieved to end a run of five matches without a win, by seeing off the league’s bottom club, Juventude with a 2-1 victory. Palmeiras dominated the match and put up an XG of 2.37, which was way greater than Juve’s 0.88. After exits in the Copa do Brasil and Copa Libertadores, Palmeiras will be eager to avoid slipping up in the league, they lead by eight points but know there’s a number of teams below them who will be ready to pounce if things go wrong. Jailson and Raphael Veiga miss out for Palmeiras due to injury.
Santos are in poor form of late and are without a victory in their last three matches, which includes two losses on the spin. Last weekend, their poor first-half start cost them dearly as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Ceara, away from home. Santos were two goals down in the space of 30 minutes and had a huge mountain to climb from that moment. The defeat for Pexie, saw the club board and manager Lisca to mutually part ways. At the time of writing, they do not have a replacement for Lisca, with Orlando Ribeiro set to take interim charge. He will be without midfielder Rodrigo Fernandez, who misses the duel to injury.
With Palmeiras winning last time out and Santos struggling and managerless, the hosts should enjoy a comfortable afternoon.
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