Thursday’s Brazilian Cup, round of 16, second leg action sees Palmeiras meeting America Mineiro. The hosts will be looking to build on a 2-1 lead established in the first leg.
All is well in Palmeiras ranks, with the team continuing to run along nicely under Roger Machado, who has improved the side significantly since coming in at the start of the year. Verdao have already finished as top ranked team in the group stages of the Copa Libertadores, as well as making a decent start to the new Serie A campaign, meaning it’s just advancement in the cup needed to keep momentum rolling.
After winning the away leg, the hosts have done most of the hard work and will be confident in finishing the job off on home soil. Performances in front of the home crowd have been strong so far in 2018, with 9 wins collected from 15 outings and having also scored exactly 3 times in 4 of their last 6 matches across all competitions, those that take to the pitch certainly do so firing on all cylinders.
That’s got to be a big worry for America, who are hardly reknowned for their defensive solidarity. The visitors have been playing an expansive brand of football upon their return to Serie A this season, which has resulted in some very open games, evidenced by the fact that 4 of their last 5 games have seen over 2.5 goals scored.
Whilst Coelho kept a rare clean sheet in the weekend’s success over Botafogo, the side had leaked 11 goals in the 5 games preceding it and with no choice but to play on the front foot here, there will certainly be gaps for Palmeiras to exploit. Confidence in the America camp simply cannot be high ahead of the trip either, with turning the tie on its head looking a distinct improbability taking into account no wins have been recorded in the last 6 on the road.
This should be an entertaining, open affair but one which we expect Palmeiras to win. Man for man they are by far the stronger team and whilst America certainly do offer a threat in attack, they are too vulnerable defensively to harbour any real hopes of an upset.
Best value looks set to be found in backing over 2.5 goals in combination with the home win. Palmeiras should thrive given the space they’ll be afforded in the final third, but we do also see America getting on the scoresheet, with a 3-1 margin of home victory on the cards.
Palmeiras possible starting XI: Jailson; Rocha, Carlos, Dracena, Barbosa; Melo, Bruno Henrique, Dudu. Lima, Keno; Willian
America Mineiro possible starting XI: Ricardo; Neto, Messias, Ferraz, Giovanni; Donizete, Juninho, Aderlan, Serginho, Luan; Judivan.
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Prior to Palmeiras’ 2-1 win in the first leg, the sides hadn’t met since the 2016 Serie A season, in which Palmeiras beat America 2-0 home and away.
Forward Miguel Borja is on international duty.
A late call will be made on midfielder Ze Ricardo.