Sunday, 26 June 2011

Campeonato Brasileiro 2011 preview: Round 6 (part two)

Following on from yesterday’s part one, here is the final part of the Brasileirão round six preview. All six games on Sunday are covered.

The Pacaembu is the only place to start on Sunday as Corinthians take on São Paulo in one of the biggest clássicos in the country. Both teams have had strong starts to their respective seasons, both are unbeaten, with São Paulo maintaining a 100% record and sitting atop the Brasileirão table. Corinthians have played one game less than the rest of the league, after they were due to play Copa Libertadores champions Santos last week (that match has been re-scheduled for August), and after a very tough run of fixtures to open the league they can be very happy with their ten points.

Corinthians will only make one change to their last time out, captain Chicão returns from suspension and takes the place of Wallace at centre-back. They were served a blow earlier this week when they were told they would not be able to play new-signing Alex from Spartak Moscow. The player has not been fully registered in time with the league, and it looks like he will have to wait until next week to finally make his debut, over a month since he signed.

São Paulo boss Paulo Cesar Carpegiani has quite a few changes to make from his side that defeated Ceará last weekend. Rodrigo Souto and Juan are both suspended, while star man Lucas is away with the Brasil squad for the Copa América. O Tricolor should line up in a 4-4-2, Luiz Eduardo deputizing at left-back with Bruno Uvini covering at centre-back. In the midfield, Ilsinho and Carlinhos Paraíba come in to play on the wings, with Casemiro and Wellington marshaling the middle of the park. Dagoberto returns up front alongside Marlos.

Many will be backing São Paulo to continue their rhythm and record their sixth straight league win, but Corinthians’ pedigree for clássicos is undeniable, o Timão have not lost a Paulista clássico at the Pacaembu since 2007. In that time they have played Paulista rivals sixteen times, winning twelve and drawing four.

Expected Formations

Next, back to the Engenhão in Rio de Janeiro as Botafogo host gauchos Grêmio. Both teams could only draw their respective matches last week, and will be hoping to kick on with an important victory.

Botafogo have a few players missing from their preferred starting eleven, Egidio Arévalo and Loco Abreu are still away with the Uruguayan national team, and since last week goalkeeper Jefferson has joined up with the Brasil side. Left-back Bruno Cortês picked up an injury in the Flamengo match last week, and Márcio Azevedo will deputise. Apart from that, their system remains largely the same, and they should line up 4-5-1 as they did last week.

Grêmio will be making a significant change to the side that drew with Vasco last week, moving to a 3-5-2 to try for a different approach after being criticized when playing 4-4-2. Captain Fábio Rochemback is suspended, and goalkeeper Víctor is with the Seleção and they will be replaced by Fernando and Marcelo Grohe. Junior Viçosa and Saimon are dropped, and new signing Marquinhos and Rafael Marques will play in their absence. Lúcio and Gabriel will be moved out to wing-backs, with Rafael Marques, Mário Fernandes and Neuton playing at centre back. Marquinhos will play centre midfield, supporting playmaker Douglas who plays just off the lone centre-forward Lins.

I will be expecting another draw for these sides here, when you have a look at the two formations on paper, both defenses appear to be well positioned against the respective attackers. Game-changing players like Maicosuel, Elkeson and Douglas will be looked towards to provide the all-important spark.

Expected Formations

Bottom side Avaí host reigning champions Fluminense at the Ressacada, and a win for either side would be extremely welcome. Avaí’s problems are clear to see, bottom of the league, only one point out of fifteen, and a dreadful goal difference of -13. Fluminense are having their own troubles however, and new boss Abel Braga will be absolutely desperate to record his first victory after taking over two weeks ago.

With morale low after their 5x0 thrashing at the hands of Palmeiras, Avaí will surely be doing anything they can for some points this week. There will be some changes to the squad for this match, George Lucas and Róbson are dropped, with new loan signing Daniel and the returning Rafael Coelho being introduced. Centre-back Cássio is injured and should be replaced by new signing Welton Felipe, who only joined the club on Wednesday.

In the absence of Fred, who is with the Seleção, Fluminense will alter their formation to a 4-5-1 for Sunday’s game. Marquinho and Diguinho are re-introduced to the first team, with Valencia and Ciro making way for them. Rafael ‘He-Man’ Moura will start as the lone striker in the place of Fred.

Conceding an average of 3.4 goals per game, Avaí’s defence has been truly woeful so far. If Fluminense can capitalise on this they could secure a very important morale-boosting victory. Anything other than a win is unthinkable for the reigning champions.

Expected Formations

The last of the Sunday afternoon games sees Ceará face Palmeiras in Fortaleza. Both sides have had good starts to the season by their own standards, with Palmeiras impressing the most in 2nd place with the most goals scored in the league.

Vozão coach Vagner Mancini has just about a full squad to choose from, with the returns of Boiadeiro, Fabrício and fan favourite Geraldo. Their only worry is central midfielder Michel, who is trying to shake off a knock picked up last week. Ceará should line up as follows: Fernando Henrique, Boiadeiro, Fabrício, Diego Sacoman, Vicente; Michel, Heleno, Thiago Humberto, João Marcos; Osvaldo, Washington.

With the suspension of last week’s goal hero Luan, Felipão will make a tactical change from his side that defeated Avaí 5x0 last week. Defensive midfielder Chico should replace the forward, and Palmeiras should line up with three deep midfielders, congesting the centre of the park. Wellington Paulista may lose his place in the starting line-up to Adriano, with Felipão looking for a more mobile forward to support Kléber.

Palmeiras look like they will have enough about them to pull off an important win this afternoon, Felipão’s anticipation of his opponents looks like it will neutralise Ceará’s central threats. If I was a betting man I would put my money on a 1x0 Palmeiras win.

Expected Formations

Moving on to the two late games, first of all we have two southern teams facing off, with Internacional hosting high-fliers Figueirense. Figueira have been one of the stories of the season so far, winning all three of their home games, drawing with Copa do Brasil champions Vasco and only losing to top side São Paulo in the Morumbi. The away game at the Beira-Rio, a traditionally difficult ground to play at, should prove to be a stern test for the newcomers. However Inter are yet to win at home this season, so the florianopolitano side may well fancy their chances.

Inter have had a very indifferent start so far, their fans being frustrated at the points they have dropped and the several chances that their forwards have passed up. There should be only one change to their side from last week’s draw with Coritiba, with midfielder Oscar returning to the starting line-up. Defensive midfielder Glaydson should make way for his return, with Tinga dropping back to replace the gap left in his absence.

Figueira have some niggling selection problems in their squad, strikers Reinaldo and Lenny are still out injured, while Rhayner joins them after earning a suspension last week. Midfielder Wilson Pittoni suffered an injury last week and will miss out, it will be between Coutinho and Túlio to take his place in the middle of the park.

Figueirense have every right to believe that they can get something out of this match, but Internacional are a team of great quality that appear to just need one result to kick in to a good phase, and this match – at home to a newly promoted side – could be just the fixture they need.

Expected Formations

Finally, the weekend is rounded off at the Serra Dourada in Goiânia, as Atlético Goianiense host Copa do Brasil winners Vasco. Atlético, o Dragão, have had an excellent start to the season by their standards. Before the season began, they were tipped by just about everyone to be one of the four relegated teams, but they have started fantastically, sitting in 8th position. Vasco are only one point ahead in 7th place, and their supporters are still in ecstasy after their Copa win and subsequent Copa Libertadores qualification.

Atlético are completely unchanged from the team that drew 2x2 with Atlético Mineiro last week, while Vasco will make a couple of changes. Left back Ramon and defensive midfielder Allan will miss out, with Márcio Careca and Eduardo Costa taking their places. A victory for either side would put them in a fantastic position after six rounds, and with both sides scoring and conceding their fair share of goals, this one should be exciting.

Expected Formations

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Campeonato Brasileiro 2011 preview: Round 6 (part one)

We have arrived in the sixth round of matches in this Brasileirão season. Here's a quick preview of the weekend's action starting with Saturday's matches. Part two will be posted tomorrow

First up on Saturday is a mouth-watering clash between Flamengo and Atlético Mineiro at the Engenhão. Both sides are under some pressure from their supporters after poor recent results, Atlético have now gone three games without a win, while Flamengo have yet to win since the opening round of the season.

With the suspensions of Willians and Bottinelli, Flamengo will adopt a different strategy on Saturday, opting to play an extra central defender and arranging themselves in a 3-5-2 shape. Luiz Antônio keeps his place in midfield after debuting in last week’s 0x0 with Botafogo, Wanderley comes in for Diego Maurício up front and Ronaldo Angelim will play as the aforementioned third centre-back.

O Galo welcome back full-backs Patric and Guilherme Santos for this weekend, Giovanni Augusto makes way for Dudu Cearense to start in the midfield and Guilherme – the scorer of last week’s all important equalising goal – starts up front in the place of Mancini.

What we have here is two teams desperately looking for a win, and we should expect quite an open match with opportunities and (hopefully) goals, a stark contrast from Flamengo’s uninspired stalemate last week. Fla’s left back Junior Cesar spoke this week at a press conference ahead of the match and his comments were very revealing about the mentality at the club. He said that the players realise their performances have not been up to standard, and that “to win is more important than playing well”.

Expected Formations

Atlético Paranaense face Bahia on Saturday in Curitiba with the home side suffering heavily in this early part of the season. We are five games in and Atlético have only registered one point and scored only one goal. The recent signing of former Nacional striker Santiago García is a superb piece of business and certainly a step in the right direction, but it is generally accepted that o Furacão will need more than only the 20 year old Uruguayan.

On Saturday, both teams should keep very similar line-ups to those of the last round. With Santiago García not yet eligible to make his debut, Guerrón and Nieto will once again start up front for Atlético. For Bahia, forward Júnior will receive his first full start for the club after he replaced the injured Souza in last week’s win over Fluminense.

O Tricolor will also be able to call upon Jobson, who returned to Brasil on Thursday after a hearing in Switzerland in regards to his doping case of 2009. The case has been well publicised, (I touched on it here) and this hearing is to judge whether he will have to serve his full two year suspension, which was previously reduced to six months. The committee have six weeks to make their final decision, in which time Jobson will be free to play for Bahia.

Expected Formations

The late game on Saturday is an interesting encounter between Cruzeiro and Coritiba in Sete Lagoas. Only a few months ago, while Cruzeiro were turning over every team in their Copa Libertadores group, and Coritiba were charging through the Copa do Brasil, these two teams were widely regarded as the two form teams in Brasil. Since then, that form has escaped both clubs, with Coritiba losing in the Copa do Brasil final and sitting in 16th position in the league. Cruzeiro have fallen even harder, being knocked out in the Libertadores last 16 and yet to record a win in this year’s Brasileirão, a Raposa find themselves in 18th position.

After last week’s draw against América-MG, Cuca left his post as Cruzeiro manager, with experienced carioca Joel Santana taking the reins. There will be a few changes to the Cruzeiro side from last week, with injuries to both full-backs Gilberto and Pablo, defensive midfielder Marquinhos Paraná will deputise at left back and Diego Renan starts at right back after recovering from a nasty hamstring tear. Also coming in is midfielder Everton, who should form a trio of central midfielders alongside Henrique and Fabrício, with Montillo as the advanced playmaker.

For Coritiba, they should maintain the same team that drew 1x1 with Internacional last Sunday. The only possible change comes in the shape of fan’s favourite Marcos Aurélio, who has spent the start of the season injured. If Marcelo Oliveira decides to start Marcos Aurélio, he will play up front alongside Bill, most likely taking the place of Everton Ribeiro.

Expected Formations