The dark horse of the season – Fortaleza
Every league has its dark horses, and this season’s Brazilian Championship A Series dark horse is Fortaleza. The team from the north-east of Brazil, under the leadership of Argentinean manager Voivoda, is currently in third place in the league, just seven points behind top side Atletico Mineiro with one game to go.
Not only are they in the running for fourth place this season, they are even in the running for the title.
This time, Fortaleza hosts promoted team Cuiaba, and a win will see them overtake Palmeiras in second place. They will continue to mount a strong challenge to the other traditional teams.
The team that plays well at home
They are unbeaten in their first eight home games with six wins and two draws, and have even edged out current leaders Atletico Mineiro (6 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss) in the home standings. Fortaleza are the most impressive home team in terms of point scoring efficiency.
Statistically Fortaleza are indeed among the strongest teams, ranking fourth in total goals scored and fourth in defence, having improved significantly both offensively and defensively this season.
This is thanks to manager Voivola, an Argentinean coach who has tailored his team’s 352 high-pressure attacking tactics. The midfielders have been very aggressive in their tackling, turning into a four-back when defending, and have done an excellent job of maintaining and switching formations.
Another factor that has contributed to Fortaleza’s stable record is the fact that the main squad has remained healthy this season, with not a single injured player at the moment.The former Vasco da Gama midfielder is back in the squad after being suspended for the last round.
Also this week Fortaleza signed Lucas Lima, a former Brazilian national team midfielder from Palmeiras, who is considered to be the biggest signing in the club’s history and could make his debut in this match.
The promoted team-Cuiaba
The visitors, Cuiaba, are the promoted team of the season, with 4 wins, 8 draws and 5 losses after 17 rounds, the second highest number of draws in the league, behind Ceará (9).
The team from the south-western Brazilian state of Mato Grosso was only founded in 2001 and had previously played in the lower divisions, even being disbanded until it was reorganised in 2009.
The team was promoted to the second division for the first time in 2019 and, after two seasons of campaigning, finished fourth in the second division last season, securing the last promotion spot.
The new manager
Particularly praiseworthy is Cuiaba’s away performance this season, with two wins, five draws and one loss in their first eight away games, and now on a seven-match unbeaten run since losing their first away game to Fluminense.
The very junior Cuiaba are currently the highest placed of the four promoted teams, thanks to their pragmatic tactics and a good performance since the change of manager.
Manager Jorginho, who took over at the beginning of July, has plenty of experience of coaching relegation strugglers and since his arrival Cuiaba have won 4, drawn 4 and lost 2. All of their wins this season followed his appointment, including a recent 2-0 away win against Palmeiras.
A commendable away performance
It is particularly commendable that Cuiabá have been on the road this season, winning 2, drawing 5 and losing 1 of their first 8 away games, and are now unbeaten in 7 consecutive away games since losing their first away game to Fluminense.
Only one loss on the road this season has been achieved by Bragantino RB and Corinthians, who are currently in the top two in the away standings. But Cuiabá have not scored many goals on the road and the team have mostly been struggling to get one point. Right-back João Lucas ended his suspension and Cuiaba are also at full strength for this round.
Past meetings between these two teams go back to the C-League, with Fortaleza having a slight advantage in the six meetings with two wins, three draws and one loss.
Both teams have been outstanding at home and away this season, and Fortaleza’s home form has been particularly impressive. Although Fortaleza played an extra game in the Copa do Brasil in midweek, the return of midfielder Pikachu in this round is also good news. Fortaleza are expected to take the win in this match.
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