Campeonato Brasileiro preview round 13
On Saturday, our cameras will be set up to catch the action from the estádio Olímpico as title hopefuls Grêmio and Cruzeiro lock horns.
Not that many people outside Porto Alegre were expecting to see Grêmio contending for the championship.
But Celso Roth appears to have overcome the initial criticism and has done well with limited resources.
Grêmio start this one in 3rd on 22 points and have been in the top four nearly all season. This has much to do with their good home record of 4 wins and 2 draws and having the best defence in the league, which has let in just 10 in 12 games.
Flamengo and Grêmio’s neighbours, Inter, are the only teams to have escaped with points from the Olímpico. Fla could easily have gone down 5-0 but for a huge slice of luck and the heroics of their keeper, Bruno.
With so much riding on Saturday’s fixture, there should be a near capacity crowd for the visit of Cruzeiro. And with their famously passionate fans behind them, Roth’s men may just have the edge.
Having lost Roger in recent weeks, Grêmio are in danger of seeing more of their best players leave the club. Midfielder Rodrigo Mendes is apparently attracting interest from Lazio while Hoffenheim are sniffing round young centreback, Léo – though rumour has it he may be bought by an investment group who intend to sell Léo to a Portuguese club. Roger’s departure seems to have affected Grêmio as they have won just once since the midfielder left for Qatar Sports Club. But recent arrivals, Sergio Orteman from Racing Santander, and Souza from PSG, may help offset any more sales.
Cruzeiro have been riding high since the beginning of the competition and are currently in 2nd on 24 points.
But their only away win came on the opening day at Vitória. Since then, the Belo Horizonte side have drawn 2 and lost 2 (including a 5-2 thumping at Palmeiras).
Like Celso Roth, Cruzeiro coach Adílson Baptista has his detractors. The charge is that Baptista is generally too cautious and his substitutions are too negative.
However, the results are coming and as long as this happens, Baptista is safe.
While Grêmio were held at Portuguesa 2-2 on Wednesday, a weakened Cruzeiro showed their resilience by beating Atlético Paranaense 1-0. For the third time in a row, Cruzeiro scored late in the game and this is something Grêmio will have to watch out for on Saturday.
Grêmio have Marcelo and Hélder suspended but the good news is that Colombian international, Perea should be available after recovering from problems with his right knee. Cruzeiro will arrive in Porto Alegre with selection problems. Wagner and Weldon are injured. Fabrício and Ramires are suspended.
Goal average: 2.33
Ones to watch: Catch Grêmio’s Léo before he’s sold off. Also keep an eye on their keeper Victor. Cruzeiro’s Camilo and Bruno are ones for the future.
Kick off: 19th July – 18:20 Brasilia
Sunday sees at the estádio Serra Dourada for strugglers Goiás as they come up against Palmeiras.
Goiás have been in the bottom four nearly all season. This is partially to do with their poor home record of 1 win, 3 draws, and 1 loss. But the root cause is a weak squad.
The arrival of Hélio dos Anjos has improved the situation a little and the recent acquisitions of Iarley, Adriano and Thiago Feltri should provide the coach with more options.
Midweek, Goiás visited Vasco and almost came away with all 3 points had it not been for an injury time equaliser by Luizão.
Goiás though, are no strangers to this situation. Back in 2003, Goiás looked dead certs for Série B for the first half of the campaign. But under coach Cuca they won 16 matches in a row and finished 9th. In 2005, Goiás ended the season in 3rd (their best ever finish) but it’s been downhill since. In 2007, Goiás survived the drop by the skin of their teeth. But to do that this year, they have to start winning more games at home beginning with this one against Palmeiras.
We’ve seen a lot of Palmeiras away from home in recent weeks and to be honest, they haven’t been that good.
One win, 2 draws, and 3 losses is a poor return for the investment that has gone into the team. However, while Palmeiras were bringing in names such as Denílson and Diego Souza at the start of the year, the latest arrivals have been a little more downmarket and include unknowns such as Jefferson and Jumar.
But the biggest problem remains lack of support up front for Alex Mineiro. Palmeiras really need to hire another player who can bag his fair share of goals on a consistent basis. Kléber is now on 3 but 2 of those came against Fluminense midweek.
If Palmeiras are serious about taking the title, they have to win matches like these versus strugglers such as Goiás.
Hélio dos Anjos rested Paulo Baier and Iarley against Vasco but the two should return for this fixture. Palmeiras will have top scorer Alex Mineiro back after suspension. Pierre is still a doubt but Martinez and Gustavo will miss the game through injury.
Goal average: 2.75
Ones to watch: Goiás’ Romerito and Iarley (if he’s in the mood). Palmeiras’ Leandro and Valdívia (see the comment on Iarley)
Kick off: 20th July – 16:00 Brasilia
Elsewhere, leaders Flamengo get a chance to bounce back as they take on Vitória in the Maracanã on Sunday. São Paulo will be confident of taking maximum points against Botafogo in the Morumbi. And Santos have a good chance of ending their abysmal run without a win when they meet Sport Recife in the Vila.
See the table and all the weekend’s fixtures here