Sunday’s early morning Brazilian Serie A clash sees Atletico Mineiro playing host to Flamengo. A tight game is expected to be in order between two of the league’s early pace setters.
Whilst it’s been far from spectacular at times, host Atletico have risen to the top of the pile, after picking up 13 points in the 5 outings following an opening day loss at Vasco. Thiago Largi’s men had been coming under some pressure following Brazilian Cup and Copa Sudamericana exits but strong league showings now have fans back on side.
A 1-0 derby win over Cruzeiro last time out has confidence flowing in home ranks and picking up another three points is undoubtedly the target coming into this one. Galo’s recent outings at the Estádio Independência have hardly been providing great entertainment, with Atletico winning 2 of the last 4 games there 1-0 and the other two ending 0-0, but for as long as results keep coming, fans will not be too concerned.
Meanwhile visiting Flamengo also arrive in solid shape under the watch of caretaker boss Maurício Barbieri. It’s been a chaotic couple of years in Mengao ranks, but Barbieri finally looks to be bringing some form of stability, having lost just 1 of his 12 games in charge following a 0-0 draw at River Plate in Libertadores action midweek, a competition in which Barbieri has lead the team into the last 16 of.
Serie A-wise, things are running along nicely for the visitors, 2 points behind their opponents here in second place. That being said, after a flying start to the campaign, Flamengo’s performances have been dwindling somewhat in recent weeks, having now won just one of the last 5 games across all competitions, with the team proving hard to beat more than anything.
Ultimately, we’re expecting a very tight game. Visiting teams tend to put men behind the ball when visiting Atletico in a bid to restrict their ball players finding room in the final third and with Flamengo’s success under Barbieri thus far mainly built on defensive foundations, little change is expected in the type of match we’re likely to see.
Backing under 2.5 goals looks a great way to play in this match and we’re more than happy to back said line with full confidence. Atletico have kept clean sheets in their last 4 home games whilst Flamengo have only conceded in 1 of their last 5 on the road. Neither streak looks like ending come full time in Belo Horizonte, with a goalless draw the most likely outcome between two evenly matched outfits.
Atletico Mineiro possible starting XI: Victor; Emerson, Bremer, Gabriel, Santos; Adilson, Blanco, Luan, Cazares, Guedes; Oliveira.
Flamengo possible starting XI: Alves; Rodinei, Rhodolfo, Duarte, Rene; Cuellar, Everton, Paqueta, Diego, Vinicius Jr; Dourado.
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Atletico Mineiro won this fixture 2-0 last season, with the return game in Rio ending in a 1-1 draw. Historically, this is a very even match-up, with the last 37 meetings seeing the sides win 14 times each and drawing 9 times.
Midfielder Elias is the only absentee as he serves a suspension.
Centre backs Rever and Juan are likely to miss out alongside right back Para. Forwards Orlando Berrio and Geuvanio also miss out.