Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 4/9
Despite things being completely quiet in most leagues around Europe, not counting transfer activities of course, the season is in full flow across the Atlantic. In the Brazilian Serie A, Flamengo will be doing battle for points with America Mineiro at the famous Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday evening, within the 14th round of the campaign.
Having finished second to Atletico Mineiro in 2021, Flamengo will be feeling extremely disappointed with the way this season has been unfolding for them. At the moment, they sit in 14th place with 15 points from 13 matches. Even that can perhaps be described as lucky in relative terms, given that the two teams directly below have the same tally and Goias in 17th, topping the relegation zone, have only one point less to their name.
The situation is so dire for the club that they sacked Paulo Sousa from the dugout earlier this month, with Dorival Junior taking the reins as his successor. However, things still haven’t kicked off properly as the four matches with the new boss in charge saw them suffer three defeats.
The complete run of the last six matches in league for Flamengo consists of a 1-2 win away to Fluminense, a defeat at home by the same scoreline at the hands of Fortaleza, a 1-0 defeat away to Bragantino, a 3-1 defeat away to Internacional, a 2-0 win at home against Cuiaba, and a 2-0 defeat away to Atletico Mineiro. Flamengo had the chance of getting back at this particular opponent later in the round of 16 of the Copa do Brasil, but they lost the first leg away by 2-1 and the second is scheduled to take place mid-July.
Former Chelsea, PSG and Arsenal defender David Luiz is out of this game (thigh injury), as are winger Bruno Henrique (knee), defender Fabricio Bruno (foot), and right-back Matheus Franca (broken leg).
Changes from the last match are most likely to happen in midfield, where Thiago Maia will be hoping to start ahead of Willian Arao. Also, Lazaro could come in on the left attacking flank in the place of Giorgian De Arrascaeta.
Much like Flamengo, America won’t be too happy with where they are at the moment either. After finishing last season in eighth place and qualifying for the Copa Sudamericana, they face a desperate struggle for survival this year. Right now, they are in 16th place with the same tally as Flamengo (15 points), sitting directly above the relegation zone. Apart from Goias, the zone contains Cuiaba (13), Fortaleza (10) and Juventude (10).
The biggest worry for Vagner Mancini and his men going into this clash is the fact that they did not win any of their last six away matches. As for their last six results in the league, they were a 1-1 draw away to Corinthians, a 2-1 win over Cuiaba at home, a 0-2 defeat at home to Ceara, a 1-0 defeat away to Sao Paulo, a goalless draw at home against Fluminense, and a hugely disappointing 1-0 defeat away to fellow relegation battlers Fortaleza.
Another huge worry for Mancini is the fact that defender Iago Maidana is not only his team’s top scorer this term, but also ruled out with a foot injury, as is forward Orlando Berrio. Meanwhile, goalkeeper Matheus Covichioli is sidelined with a thigh problem.
On the other hand, midfielder Ale is set to resume his role in the team after serving a suspension in the place of Danilo Avelar. Luo Guoufu will be hoping to lead the line upfront again and end his five-game drought in terms of goals.
This game is obviously important for both sides, but particularly for Flamengo who simply cannot afford to continue their poor run if they are to get hold of the top half of the table. Their superior quality, with all due respect to the visitors, as well the home soil advantage, will likely be enough to see them through on this mission.
Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 4/9
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