Brazil Serie A: Atletico Mineiro - America Mineiro
I previewed Atletico's last start, a visit to Corinthians .........
"Corinthians form has nosedived, they looked firm title contenders through the first 14 games, had 28 points in the bag and were in second place, they have taken just 13 points from the last 14 and are down in 7th, seven points off Copa Libertadores pace and with six teams above them. They might soon be in a position where it will all be about the Copa do Brasil for them and it is possible they will play and might already be doing so, with less caution than we usually expect. AMG are third, four points clear of Santos in 4th and can afford to gamble at present and look to push on for the title. They are currently five adrift of leaders Palmeiras, but have still to host them and a late challenge is far from off the table . They collected 20 points from their first 14 starts, a whopping 32 from the second, which is a 27 point swing with Corinthians and if they had played at this level from the get-go, they would hold a seven point lead at the top of the table, which illustrates how well they have played since, well, mid June, since when they have collected more points than anyone.
They are fast starters on the road and have a +6 first half goal difference.
AMG are without defensive midfielder Rafael Carioca tonight, he is away with the national team, but the visitors are 6-1-0 in Serie A starts without him. His absence is offset , IMO, by Corinthians losing right back Fagner , they lost 2-0 at home to Palmeiras in the last game he missed with replacement Leo Principe being run ragged and eventually getting sent off after two yellow cards."
They drew that 0-0, a result which leaves them in third, 4 and 7 points respectively behind Flamengo and Palmeiras with nine rounds left to play. Third carries with it a place in the Copa Libertadores group stage, but 4th-6th will now get you in to the first stage and that does ease the pressure. Also, the top two both have difficult games today and Atletico have still to host both, so it would be very early to give up on title ambitions.
America are booked for a quick return to the second tier after promotion last season and are 13 points from safety and propping up the rest of Serie A. However, we can surely expect them to be up for this, in their last derby game of the season and if they can end Atletico's title ambitions, that would be a bonus.
However, 32 points separate these two, which is more than 1.1 per game and is a true reflection of the difference in quality and Atletico are taking this incredibly seriously and given the home side full respect. There was talk of their four international players being eased back, but Lucas Pratto, Rafael Carioca, Cazares and Erazo have all been rushed back from CONMEBOL World Cup action and go straight into the squad.
America have conceded two or more goals in 6 of their last 7 starts without keeper Fernado Leal who is suspended and come into this game additionally weakened defensively. They will have to open up at some stage and Atletico can make it 3/3 at home to bottom four teams by a 3-0 scoreline.
Atletico MG -1.25 goals 2.0 asian line/Sportmarket
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