Tuesday’s Copa Libertadores clash sees Brazilians Cruzeiro playing host to Argentines Racing. The match is a shootout for top spot in Group 5, with anything but a home win seeing Racing hold onto it.
Already through to the next round due to being 3 points ahead of Universidad de Chile with a far superior goal difference, Cruzeiro will now be itching to claim the three points to ensure they get an easier run in the knockout rounds. La Bestia Negra made a slow start to their Libertadores campaign, taking 2 points from their opening 3 games but dominant wins over Universidad and Vasco now has them in a strong position.
After losing 1-0 at arch rivals Atletico Mineiro in Serie A action, those that take to the field will be looking to put on a show for the home fans, who were left devastated by the defeat. Having won 12 of their 14 outings on their own patch so far in 2018, scoring an average of 2.14 goals a game in the process, that’s something those in blue will certainly be confident in achieving, with maintaining said streak the target coming into the game.
Meanwhile, visitors Racing week has been so bad that boss Eduardo Coudet has said, in far more explicit terms, that defeats to both Colon and minnows Sarmiento Resistencia have “thrown away 6 months of good work”. Since Coudet came in at the start of the year, Racing have played some good football but the shock 3-1 defeat at home to Colon cost them a Copa Libertadores place for next year whilst the cup loss to third tier Sarmiento was simply embarrassing.
In what is their final game prior to the World Cup, Racing will now be looking to at least end on a positive note. La Academia are unbeaten in 5 group games thus far but are far stronger on home soil, having won all 3 of their home matches and drawn twice away. Clearly, with morale low after a terrible week, the visitors face a big ask if they are to hang onto their leading spot.
Ultimately, you have to fancy Cruzeiro to win the match and we’re more than happy to back them on the full time line. Prior to their weekend defeat they were in sublime form and have been a powerful force with the crowd behind them all year.
Racing are not the same team on the road as they are at home and it’s hard to envisage them ending an awful week in positive fashion. The visitors have kept just 1 clean sheet in 33 away games and up against a Cruzeiro outfit that has kept 5 clean sheets in 6 home matches, the Argentines look up against it. Overall, there can be little doubting Cruzeiro are big favourites to claim victory and we fancy them to do so by a 2-0 margin.
Cruzeiro possible starting XI: Fabio; Romero, Leo, Dede, Egidio; Silva, Henrique, Arrascaeta, Neves, Rafinha; Sassa.
Racing possible starting XI: Musso; Pillud, Barbieri, Donatti, Soto; Zaracho, Gonzale, Meli, Centurion; Martinez, Lopez.
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Racing’s 4-2 win over Cruzeiro earlier on in the group was the first meeting between the sides a couple of 1999 Copa Merosur clashes, both of which the Brazilians won.
Right back Edilson is fit once again; as is creative man Thiago Neves and both will be a part of the squad. Veteran forward Fred remains sidelined.
Right back Renzo Saravia misses out with injury, joining Leonardo Sigali and Nery Domínguez in the treatment room. A late call will be made on forward Lisandro Lopez.