Copa SP: Final preview - Corinthians x Fluminense
The tournament has launched the careers of many Seleção stars including Neymar, Kaká and Lucas Moura in recent years and tomorrow plays host to a new generation of youth talent once more.
Corinthians have progressed to the final in fine style, with an untroubled run of results that has enabled the Timaozinho to rotate members of their side and still continue to the final with ease. The 6-0 semi-final demolition of a previously strong Atlético Paranaense team was one of the performances of the tournament and they will start the game as favourites in the eyes of many.
For Fluminense, progress has not been as impressive, but four goals against strong opponents in both the quarter-final and semi-final stage suggests that they have hit top form at the right time. An impressive attacking unit, Fluminense have struggled to keep clean sheets at times which could prove costly if not improved upon for the final.
Marcos Júnior v Marquinhos
Marcos Júnior has had a mixed tournament, having come into the event with a glowing reputation after finishing the 2011 Brasileirão Under-20 tournament as top-scorer with seven goals. However, despite a slow start, the player who turned 19 last week has shown class in the closing stages, scoring a valuable semi-final brace that helped his side on their way to the final. In opposition will be Marquinhos, star of the Brazil Under-17 side of the 2011 FIFA Youth World Cup. Alongside captain Antônio Carlos, the stocky centre-back has formed an almost impenetrable wall of white at the back, conceding just one goal in seven matches. The quicker of the defensive pair, Marquinhos' handling of the lively goal-scorer will be one deciding factor come Wednesday morning.
Léo Lelis v Douglas
The importance of this match-up says more about the threat of Douglas than the abilities of Léo Lelis. The latter is a decent defender, but has made mistakes and is part of a Tricolor defence that has proved leaky throughout the competition. Any mistake in the final and the Corinthians man will be there to pounce. In the early rounds, Douglas was left out in favour of Leandro, who was one of the top-scorers of the group-stage. But, well rested, the powerhouse striker came back in for the knockout rounds and has proved his worth with some fine displays and a high goal tally. Described in Brazil as a mix of Júlio Baptista and Adriano, the barrel-chested forward is one to watch.
Denner v Fabinho
The battle of two of the best full-backs in the tournament. Denner on the Corinthians left has been simply phenomenal, marauding down the flank to great effect to contribute in both attack and defence. Denner and his right-sided colleague Cristiano have been crucial to Corinthians side and thus, the battle with Fabinho could be decisive. Fabinho is a taller version of his opponent, equally quick and as strong, but perhaps lacking Denner's stamina. Both players love to attack and thus, whoever can pin their opponent back will have done their team a good service.
Fluminense: Silezio; Fabinho, Wellington, Léo Lelis, Ronan; Wilians, Rafinha, Higor, Eduardo; Marcos Jr, Michael.
Corinthians: Matheus; Cristiano, Antônio Carlos, Marquinhos, Denner; Gomes, Anderson, Giovanni, Matheuzinho; Douglas, Leonardo
Watch Out For:
Matheuzinho – The player of the tournament so far and the inspiration behind the free-flowing Corinthians side, Matheus has a big future in football. A slender figure, the Number 10 has shown technical abilities that are well above those of his opponents and surrounding players. The step-up to senior level will be interesting for someone who has a lot of physical development ahead of him, but with the reading of the game he has demonstrated to date at youth level, there is no doubt he has been earmarked as one for the future by club and country.