Fluminense v Fortaleza
Two sides, who play an attractive brand of football, go head-to-head at the Maracana this Sunday in the Brazilian Serie A as Fernando Diniz Fluminense take on Juan Pablo Vojevoda’s Fortaleza.
Fluminense will be hoping to start picking up wins again, as they have only one in their last six matches in all competitions. Last weekend, they took on Athletico Paranaense away from home and with their opponents involved in the Copa Libertadores matches in midweek, Flu were looking to take advantage, but instead, they came undone by a mixed Athletico starting XI. Flu will be frustrated that they couldn’t win the match, they had 74% of the ball but only created one more effort at goal than their opponents. For the third league game in a row, the Rio club had a greater XG than their opponents with 1.18 compared to 0.72. It was the first time they have failed to score in their last three games. Diniz’s men will be eager to return to winning ways.
After winning six games on the spin, Fortaleza were brought back down to earth last time out, in a 3-1 home loss to Botafogo. Despite the defeat, Fortaleza created the same expected goals as Botafogo at 2.46, which included a missed penalty from Robson. They will be hoping for a more clinical display here, as they pursue a place in continental competition next year. After a tough start to the season, the recent upturn in form has seen Fortaleza move out of the bottom four and into 12th place. Vojevoda has no injury or suspensions to worry about here.
When the sides last met, it was a thrilling match, ending in a 2-2 draw in the Copa do Brasil back in August. Over the two legs, it was Flu who enjoyed a 3-2 aggregate victory – Fortaleza will be hoping for revenge.
Coming into this game, it’s hard to pick a winner. Fluminense have won one of their last six and after their defeat last weekend, it’s difficult to see Fortaleza winning in this battle. One thing which can be expected though is goals. Flu have scored 25 times from 13 home games this season and Fortaleza average a goal per game, both for and against, on the road.
Palmeiras v Juventude
It’s top vs bottom in the Brasileirao in the early hours of Sunday morning, as title-chasing Palmeiras host a Juventude side needing a heroic fightback to remain in the division.
Palmeiras haven’t had the most incredible run of form over the last few weeks. They are without a victory in their previous five matches; with four draws and a loss in all competitions. Last weekend, they took on Bragantino and after going two goals down, Palmeiras fought back to earn a 2-2 draw, a result they will be reasonably content with following their poor start. Their XG was slightly higher than Bragantino’s with a 1.21 compared to the Red Bull club’s 1.03. Then on Tuesday evening, after suffering a 1-0 loss in the first leg of the Copa Libertadores semi-final, Palmeiras had a chance to turn things around against Athletico Paranaense at home. Unfortunately for Abel Fereira’s men, despite the perfect start, the match on the evening finished 2-2, as Athletico ran out 3-2 winners on aggregate. The defeat ends their reign as champions of South America, a title held for two straight seasons. Despite their shakey form in the last few weeks, they should pick up the points here against a weak Juventude outfit.
With each passing matchweek, Juventude are edging closer and closer to Serie B football. They are without a victory in their last six and sit at rock bottom of the table, eight points adrift of safety. Last time out against Avai, they earned a point thanks to a penalty from Chico in a 1-1 draw at home. Juve will be disappointed with drawing as they put up an XG of 2.77 compared to their opponents’ 1.63. For this clash, Elton, Bruno Nazario and Felipe Pires will miss out due to suspension, whilst keeper Pegorari has the flu.
Despite their recent mini blip, Palmeiras come into the game as huge favourites and will feel confident about getting back to winning ways against the league’s bottom club.
Avai v Athletico Paranaense
Avai are struggling for form at the moment, they are without a win in their last eight matches and sit in the bottom four, two points adrift from safety. Last weekend, they travelled to Rio Grande do Sol to take on the league’s bottom club, Juventude. After taking the lead in the second half through Guilherme Bissoli, Avai conceded moments later through a Chico spot kick and had to settle for a point. In truth, Avai can’t complain with the result as it was their opponents who had the better chances, putting up an XG of 2.77 compared to Avai’s 1.63. They will be eager to put in a better display here or will likely face another weekend without victory. Right-back Kevin will not feature here due to suspension.
It’s the polar opposite for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Athletico Paranaense, who on Tuesday evening booked their place in the 2022 Copa Libertadores final in Guayaquil with a 3-2 aggregate victory over back-to-back champions Palmeiras. The result sees them reach their first Libertadores final since 2005. The victory means the fight for a place in the team in the final is underway, with every player wanting to do their bit to earn a starting place. Their last league outing, saw a mixed starting XI enjoy a 1-0 home victory over Fluminense at home. Athletico are unbeaten in their last five matches in all competitions and will be eager to extend that run further here. They currently sit sixth in the league standings, nine points adrift of the league leaders.
With Avai struggling and Athletico on cloud nine, the away side will be confident of at least avoiding defeat here. Furacão are unbeaten in their last four matches in this fixture and earlier on in the season, they ran out 2-1 winners, thanks to a brace from David Terans.
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