Wednesday’s Copa Libertadores clash sees Brazilians Gremio playing host to Uruguayans Defensor Sporting. Gremio will be looking to finish top of the group by claiming the three points.
Coming into the competition as reigning champions, its been plain sailing for Tricolor thus far. Having retained all of key men from last season’s success, Renato Gaucho’s troops remain an extremely powerful force and have certainly demonstrated that so far in the group, remaining unbeaten whilst claiming 11 points from 5 matches.
Gremio have been simply dominant on their own patch in the competition, hammering Monagas and Cerro Porteno 4-0 and 5-0 respectively, making it 8 wins from 9 Libertadores games at the Arena do Gremio when taking last season into account. Coming into the game off the back of some solid domestic showings, the hosts are now 6 matches unbeaten across all competitions and will be hungry to build on that streak here.
Meanwhile, visitors Defensor arrive already eliminated from the competition. Currently third, the Uruguayans look set to drop into the Sudamericana no matter the full time score on Wednesday, with bottom side Monagas expected to lose at Cerro Porteno, so there’s not a great deal of pressure on the trip as far as La Viola are concerned.
With just 4 points taken from 5 group matches, Defensor have certainly underwhelmed on the big stage this season and a 1-0 defeat at home to Cerro Porteno last week ended their hopes of advancing. Eduardo Acevedo’s have now lost 4 of their last 5 games in all competitions and are not playing well at the moment, meaning a trip to Gremio is the last things the away side need right now.
Ultimately, this is a match Gremio should be winning comfortably and as such, we’re more than happy to back them on the -1 handicap. It’s hard to envisage the visitors offering much resistance in the 90 minutes, and given that Gremio have scored an average of 3 goals a game over their last 7 home matches, the hosts are unlikely to have to work too hard for the points.
Defensor are yet to keep a clean sheet away from home in 2018 and have lost their last 3 games as visitors. With Gremio having won 9 of their last 13 home matches, there’s really no reason to oppose our tip and we fancy the Brazilians to get the job done via a 2-0 success.
Gremio possible starting XI: Grohe; Moura, Bressan, Kannemann, Cortez, Jailson, Maicon; Ramiro, Luan, Maicosuel; Jael.
Defensor Sporting possible starting XI: Rodriguez; Maulella, Carrera, Correa, Suarez; Cardacio, Cabrera, Rabunal, Cougo; Rivero, Castro.
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The 1-1 draw between the sides earlier on in the group was their first meeting since a clash in 2007 Libertadores, which Defensor won on penalties after a 2-2 aggregate draw.
Forward André is not available due to registration issues. Attacking midfielders Everton and Alisson miss out through injury. Centre back Geromel is on international duty.
Left back Ernesto Goñi is suspended.