Corinthians v Palmeiras
One of Brazil’s top rivalries will take place this weekend as Corinthians play host to table-topping Palmeiras in the Brazilian Serie A. Corinthians currently trail their rivals by six points and desperately need the three points here if they want to keep their title hopes alive.
Corinthians are in poor form at the moment, with only one win from their last five matches… it’s not the sort of form you want to be in when you’re about to take on the back-to-back champions of South America. Last time out in the league, they travelled to Florianópolis to take on Avai and got off to a poor start when Guilherme Bissoli fired the hosts’ into a 1-0 lead from the spot. Corinthians would have to wait until the 77th minute to find a leveller which came through Paraguayan centre-half Fabian Balbuena. Their XG for the game was at 1.68 which was slightly higher than Avai’s 1.13. Then in the Copa Libertadores on Tuesday evening, Corinthians had a mountain to climb having suffered a 2-0 loss in the home leg to Flamengo. In truth, Timão never really threatened Flamengo, only putting an XG of 0.30 in a 1-0 defeat. Their attention now turns to the Copa do Brasil and Brasileirão, where they be eager to end the season with some silverware.
On the green side of São Paulo, it has been another ideal week. After a 2-2 draw away from home in the Copa Libertadores, Palmeiras took on Goias, a game they were expected to breeze through and they lived up to expectations with a comfortable 3-0 victory. Their XG was at 3.08 compared to Goias’ 0.76, which backs up their easy afternoon. The second leg of their Libertadores tie was on Wednesday, in what was a crazy game. Abel Ferreira’s men defended in numbers to try and limit Atletico Mineiro’s chances at their goal after the first leg saw Galo have several efforts at Weverton’s net. The plan worked as Palmeiras limited Galo to an XG of 0.48 but sacrificed any decent chances of their own with just an XG of 0.29, albeit with a man less following an early red card for Danilo. Palmeiras would complete the job on penalties, putting them in jubilant mood heading into this battle.
Both sides will be cautious in their approach to this game with a defeat having a huge impact on how their title aspirations will pan out. Both match plans will be similar with both managers not wanting to take too many risks, in the initial stages. With that in mind, it could take just a single goal to determine the winner here.
Cuiaba v Juventude
In the early hours of Sunday morning, there’s a huge bottom-of-the-table six-pointer in Brazil, as 18th place Cuiaba, hosts 20th place Juventude. A loss for the latter would see them fall seven points behind their opponents, meaning it would take a miracle for them to remain in the division, a victory, however, would spice things up nicely.
After two wins in a row back in July, it looked like Cuiaba had turned a corner and were going to kick on, but in truth, they have slacked off and are winless in their last five matches. Last time out, they took on Fluminense away from home, suffering a 1-0 loss after an early goal from German Cano. This was the third match in a row that Cuiaba have lost by the same scoreline. Cuiaba’s XG over the winless streak has been up and down… against Fortaleza, it was at 2.70 but they failed to score and last weekend it was low at 0.56. They will be hoping that they find their shooting boots in this one. Striker Deyverson can make his debut for the club here, which could give all a welcome boost.
Juventude come into this one in horrendous form with only one win in their last 12 games. If they don’t improve quickly, they’ll find themselves back in the second-tier of Brazilian football. Their last three matches have ended 1-0 with; one win and two defeats. Last time out, they played host to America Mineiro and suffered defeat after a first-half goal from Pedrinho. Their XG of 1.24 was better than America’s of 0.82, which will leave them frustrated that they didn’t get something out of the game, in what is an important period for the Rio Grande do Sul outfit.
Coming into this one, both sides are likely to focus on not losing when they take the lead and make sure they defend deep in order to secure what would be an important three points for either side. Cuiaba have seen less than 2.5 goals in a game in their last six matches and Juve have had four games out of five which have seen under 2.5 goals. It’s safe to say, goals will be at a premium in this one.
Ceara v Fortaleza
The final Clássico-Rei of the season takes place this weekend with 14th place Ceara taking on 17th Fortaleza at the Arena Castelão. Just four points separate the sides, adding more spice to what is already a tasty rivalry. So far in 2022, the pair have met four times across three competitions, with Ceara winning two, Fortaleza one and one draw.
Ceara will be hoping for revenge following, their Copa do Brasil exit at the hands of Fortaleza in June, the two-legged tie saw Leao run out 2-1 winners after 180 minutes. Their form coming into the classic has not gone to plan. Vozão are without a win in their last five matches, with three defeats and a draw in all competitions. Last weekend, they travelled to Rio de Janeiro to take on Botafogo. After conceding early on through Victor Cuesta, Ceara fought back when Colombian Jhon Mendoza put the sides on level terms as both teams settled for a point in a 1-1 draw. The away side, will be disappointed not to come home with three points as they racked up an expected goals of 2.42 and only allowed Botafogo to an XG of 0.82. Then on Wednesday, in the Copa Sudamericana, Ceara took on Sao Paulo with a place in the semi-finals at stake. The first leg finished 1-0 to Tricolor, meaning Ceara needed to win to at least take the game to spot kicks. Mendoza was once again on the scoresheet, but Sao Paulo levelled just after halftime, before Guilherme Castilho’s goal sent the match to penalties. Spot kicks would deem heartbreaking for Ceara as they bowed out of the competition with a 4-3 loss. The result will have left a disappointing feeling in camp and they must put it behind them quickly. A win over their rivals would be the perfect way to bounce back.
Whilst their rivals have been battling in midweek, Fortaleza have had extra time to focus on this weekend’s match, something they will be eager to use to their advantage. After a torrid start to the season, their revival has begun in recent weeks. First, they saw off Cuiaba away from home, before an impressive 3-0 win over Internacional in their last outing. Their recent upturn in form has come in tune with a formation change, instead of playing a back three, Fortaleza have switched to a back four. Juan Pablo Vojvoda’s men are unbeaten in their last three outings and sit just a point away from the safety positions. Fortaleza’s game against Inter got off to a horrible start as Romarinho was sent off in the 30th minute. They didn’t panic, instead, it made them stronger and despite having a numerical disadvantage, Fortaleza racked up a much greater XG than Inter with 2.11 compared to 0.55. They will be hoping for another solid display in this outing as they look to climb out of the bottom four.
The last four meetings between the sides have seen two goals or less in each game. With plenty at stake and both teams not wanting to take too many risks, that is something which could be on the cards here.
Flamengo v Athletico Paranaense
It’s Fourth v Fifth as Flamengo take on Athletico Paranaese at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. A win would see Flamengo overtake their opponents.
Another week has passed and it’s been a week full of positivity from Dorval Junior’s steam-rolling Rubro Negro side. At the weekend, they faced Sao Paulo away from home. Historically, a trip to the Morumbi has been tough for Flamengo up until recent years, when they have made the place one of their favourites and that theme continued. Making several changes with an eye on Corinthians, Flamengo enjoyed a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Lazaro and Gabriel Barbosa. Their XG was once again far greater than their opponents at 2.36, whilst keeping Sao Paulo’s at 0.46. Flamengo have found the perfect balance in attack and defence. On Tuesday, whilst leading 2-0 after a solid first-leg in the Copa Libertadores quarter-final, Flamengo enjoyed a 1-0 victory over Corinthians to see them breeze through to the competition’s Semi-final stage. The mood in the Flamengo camp and amongst the fans is the highest it’s been since 2019, as they can sense something special happening. the Rio side, will be eager to showcase another quality performance here.
Also having a solid week were Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Athletico Paranenase. First, they took on champions Atletico Mineiro and after falling behind twice in the game, both times saw 17-yeat-old wonderkid Vitor Roque put Athletico on level terms. Then, in the 90+6 minute, Agustin Canobbio found a winner, as Athletico picked up a huge three points. On Thursday, they faced a tough trip to Argentina, taking on Estudiantes in the Copa Libertadores Quarter-final second leg. It looked like the affair was heading to penalties until, Vitor Roque, showed bravery to score a header and send Athletico into delirium.
Athletico XG for the match was at 0.50, below the Argentines of 1.04. Their game plan was to try and soak up pressure and not take too many risks, before unleashing a counter-attack. This is something which they will do here, especially with the quality Flamengo have.
With Athletico playing on Thursday night and Flamengo having had a couple of extra days to prepare here, the hosts will feel confident about getting the job done. The sides will lock horns again in midweek in the Copa do Brasil, which is something Athletico will bare in mind and we could see some rotation from Big Phil. The Maracana is expected to have over 53,000 as they seek to roar Flamengo onto victory.
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