Brasileirão - July 15 - Previews
Botafogo v Fluminense
A repeat of the Carioca state championships final from May, in which Fluminense won both legs. Botafogo have won their two most recent matches, including a stunning demolition of Corinthians midweek, but that is topped by Fluminense who are unbeaten so far this Serie A season and have won their last four outings. Form favours the away side.
For Botafogo, Marcelo Mattos is still ruled out through injury, while Vitor Junior returns from missing the encounter with parent club Corinthians, which should see Cidinho return to the bench. Elkeson will continue in his new striking role.
A couple of notable absentees for Fluminense, as goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri and midfielder Deco miss out through injury. Ricardo Berna and Wagner, though, are more than capable deputies. Should livewire forward Wellington Nem miss out, after a slight knock in training, then young striker Samuel will fill-in.
BOTAFOGO: Jefferson; Lucas, Antonio Carlos, Fábio Ferreira, Márcio Azevedo; Lucas Zen, Renato, Fellype Gabriel, Andrezinho, Vítor Júnior; Elkeson. Coach: Oswaldo de Oliveira
FLUMINENSE: Ricardo Berna; Bruno, Gum, Anderson, Carlinhos; Edinho, Jean, Wágner, Thiago Neves; Wellington Nem (Samuel), Fred. Coach: Abel Braga
Prediction: Both teams should score in this one, with Fluminense a good bet to get at least a point away from home. Botafogo 2-2 Fluminense
Internacional v Santos
Unfortunately, what should be one of the best matches the league has to offer has been severely hit by injuries and international call-ups, leaving both sides looking severely weakened. Inter, though, look the stronger of the two sides, and will take on a Santos side who haven't won away from home in six outings.
In the absence of Oscar, Leandro Damião (Olympics), D'Alessandro (suspended) and Datolo (injured), Dorival Júnior has looked to the youth teams to call upon Lucas Lima and Mike to reinforce the attacking unit. Rodrigo Moledo is still out in defence, so Indio and Bolivar continue their partnership.
For Santos, it is a similar story. Edu Dracena (injured) and Olympic call-ups Neymar, Ganso and Rafael all miss out, whilst Bernardo, Fucile and Galhardo are all longer-term absentees. New signing Bruno Peres continues at right-back, with Bruno Rodrigo the only change in defence (for Edu Draçena). Aranha deputises in-goal, whilst it's all change up-front as Dinba and new signing Miralles form a much weakened attacking unit.
INTERNACIONAL: Muriel; Nei, Bolívar, Índio e Fabrício; Elton, Guiñazu, Lucas Lima, Mike e Jajá; Dagoberto. Coach: Dorival Junior
SANTOS: Aranha; Bruno Peres, Bruno Rodrigo, Durval e Juan; Adriano, Arouca, Henrique e Felipe Anderson; Dimba e Miralles. Coach: Muricy Ramalho
Prediction: Internacional win 2-0. Santos lacking in form and fire-power against an Inter side still boasting several top players.
Cruzeiro v Grêmio
Both sides come into this game off the back of two defeats, while only separated in the league table by two points. The game is also making headlines for the introduction of former Santos players, with Cruzeiro possibly starting with 2011 top-scorer Borges, while Grêmio signed Elano only last week. Cruzeiro's home form is improved since a return to Belo Horizonte, without being great, but Grêmio's away form is awful.
For Cruzeiro, midfielders Charles (injury) and Willian Magrão (loan from Grêmio) miss out, so Amaral is likely to play alongside Leandro Guerreiro. Victorino is dropped from defence, seeing Léo return to the centre and Diego Renan come in at full-back. Wellington Paulista returns up-front, with Fabinho missing out, while Borges and Anselmo Ramon scrap over the other striking berth.
For Grêmio, Marcelo Grohe continues in-goal after the sale of Victor, whilst Anderson Pico is suspended at left-back which will see Pará rushed back to cover. A strong midfield unit is boosted by the presence of Elano, who comes in for Marco Antônio. Kléber will continue up-front by himself.
CRUZEIRO: Fábio; Diego Renan, Léo, Mateus, Everton; Leandro Guerreiro, Amaral, Tinga, Montillo; Wellington Paulista, Anselmo Ramon (Borges). Coach: Celso Roth
GREMIO: Marcelo Grohe; Tony, Werley, Gilberto Silva, Pará; Fernando, Léo Gago, Souza, Elano, Zé Roberto; Kleber. Coach: Vanderlei Luxemburgo
Prediction: Tough game to call, with two well-matched sides, but Cruzeiro's home-advantage should count in their favour. Cruzeiro 2-1 Grêmio
Bahia v Flamengo
Flamengo's recent form is mixed at best, while their away form is nothing short of abysmal. Luckily for them, though, Bahia have one just once in over two months.
Bahia make just one change from the side that suffered a pummeling at the hands of Botafogo last week, with Diones replacing the injured Elias. Falcão has virtually a full compliment of players to choose from. Lulinha should feature from the bench.
With Vagner Love suspended and Diego Maurício struggling for form, it is all change up-front for Flamengo, with Deivid and Hernane looking to state their case for regular inclusion. Botinelli, too, is suspended, giving 17-year-old Adryan a likely full Brasileirão debut, with on-loan Aírton also coming into the side in place of Amaral. Luiz Antônio continues as a make-shift right-back, new signing Ramon starts ahead of Magal and Arthur Sanches deputises for the injured Gonzalez in a re-organised defence.
BAHIA: Marcelo Lomba; Fabinho, Danny Morais, Titi, Hélder; Fahel, Diones, Kleberson, Gabriel, Mancini; Souza. Coach: Paulo Roberto Falcão.
FLAMENGO: Paulo Victor, Luiz Antonio, Marllon, Arthur Sanches, Ramon; Aírton, Renato, Ibson, Adryan; Deivid, Hernane. Coach: Joel Santana.
Prediction: As good a chance as any for Bahia to get their season back on track, against a disjointed and out-of-form Flamengo side. Bahia 2-1 Flamengo