Sunday’s Brazilian Serie A action sees Santos hosting Cruzeiro. A close game is expected between two sides that have made slow starts to the new Serie A season.
Not a great deal is expected of Santos this campaign. Jair Ventura has been brought in as boss for his ability to work on a budget and most hopes rest on young star Rodrygo and the return of Gabriel Barbosa.
On home soil, Peixe remain strong but are having real issues on their travels, having lost 5 away games in row, including all 3 of their first trips in league action. That leaves the side hovering just above the relegation zone with 6 points from 5 game but with a 100% home record thus far, after wins over Ceara and Parana, confidence isn’t too low coming into this clash and picking up what would be a firth win on home soil in 6 matches is clearly the target in this one.
However, Cruzeiro will prove a difficult obstacle in Santos’ quest to do exactly that, arriving in much improved form. Mano Menezes’ troops beat Argentines Racing in midweek Libertadores action, seeing them progress to the last 16 of the competition via a first place finish in the group, and the win also made it 5 wins from the last 6 games in all competitions.
Now all focus simply has to be on improving league standing. La Bestia Negra lost both of their opening matches in Serie A and after picking up 7 points from the next 3 games, the side preceded to lose last week’s derby at Atletico Mineiro, seeing them currently stand in the bottom half, something they’ll want to improve on by claiming a result in this clash.
Ultimately, we should be set for an even, well matched affair. Cruzeiro are the slightly stronger team overall and have greater expectations behind them, but with key man Giorgian de Arrascaeta on international duty and Santos so strong as hosts, there shouldn’t be too much in the game.
As such, best value looks set in backing the draw, something we’re more than happy to do at current prices. Santos have lost just 2 of their last 13 home matches and with Cruzeiro having avoided defeat in 4 of their last 6 on the road, the two outfits look too difficult to separate, with a 1-1 stalemate on the cards.
Santos possible starting XI: Vanderlei; Ferraz, Henrique, Verissimo, Dodo; Renato, Sasha, Bueno, Mota, Rodrygo; Gabriel.
Cruzeiro possible starting XI: Fabio; Romero, Leo, Dede, Egidio; Silva, Henrique, Sobis, Neves, Robinho; Sassa.
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The last meeting between the two came back in August, ending in a 1-1 draw. Cruzeiro won the other game between the sides last season but overall Santos are unbeaten in 5 of the last 6 meetings, winning 3.
Defensive midfielder Alison joins attacking mifdielder Bruno Henrique on the sidelines.
Attacking midfielder Giorgian de Arrascaeta is on international duty. Federico Mancuello misses out through suspension whilst veteran forward Fred is injured.