Preview: Athletico Paranaense vs. Palmeiras

Preview: Athletico Paranaense vs. Palmeiras

After both teams topped their Copa Libertadores groups in midweek, Athletico Paranaense and Sao Paulo giants Palmeiras clash in the Campeonato Brasileiro on Sunday.

Athletico welcome last year’s champions to Arena da Baixada trailing two points and five places behind in the Serie A standings, so victory would see them leapfrog their illustrious visitors.

Ending their Group G campaign in style on Tuesday night, Athletico Paranaense swept Peru’s Allianza Lima aside thanks to a 3-0 home win, aided by a second-half double from teenage star Vitor Roque.

The Curitiba club finished three points clear of fellow Brazilians Atletico Mineiro to earn a place in the Copa Libertadores last-16, so can now return their focus to domestic matters for the next few weeks.

In addition to an upcoming Copa do Brasil quarter-final, Wesley Carvalho’s men must first tackle a Palmeiras side which surged to the title last year and have also thrived in South America’s top club competition in 2023.

Carvalho took charge as the Rubo-Negro’s interim head coach following Paulo Turra’s departure in mid-June, and after initially losing 2-1 to Sao Paulo, he steered his team to a 1-0 win over Corinthians last weekend, when Vitor Roque was once again the matchwinner.

As the European transfer window is open and players continue to move for big money, several clubs would love to snare Athletico’s 18-year-old number nine, but he appears to be revelling in Carvalho’s more attacking approach and may prefer to bide his time in the Brasileiro.

In July, Athletico will face seven fixtures – an average of one game every four days – so will hope their brightest talent can stay in situ and keep firing them up the standings.

Preview: Athletico PR vs. Palmeiras – prediction, team news, lineups

After starting June with three straight wins and extending their unbeaten streak in the league to 10 matches, Palmeiras had subsequently suffered back-to-back Brasileiro defeats against Bahia and Botafogo, so their Copa Libertadores success on Thursday came as quite a relief.

Abel Ferreira’s side thrashed Group C runners-up Bolivar 4-0 at Allianz Parque and, in doing so, posted the best overall record of the group phase for the fifth time in the last six editions of the tournament.

This season, Palmeiras finished with 15 points, earned from five wins and one loss; scoring 16 goals and conceding just six. Having already won South America’s most glittering prize two times this decade, Verdao will clearly be one of the teams to beat when the knockout rounds kick off in August.

Last week’s league loss to Botafogo, however, ended the Sao Paulo club’s superb 32-game run without defeat on home turf, which dated back to July last year, and they have slipped to fourth in the table as a result.

In fact, pacesetters Botafogo pulled eight points clear of Palmeiras with that win, so in addition to gaining a small slice of revenge for their defeat in last year’s Copa Libertadores semi-finals, Ferreira and co will want three points against Athletico Paranaense to stay in touch at the top.

Athletico Paranaense Brasileiro form:

Athletico Paranaense form (all competitions):

Palmeiras Brasileiro form:

Palmeiras form (all competitions):

We say: Athletico Paranaense 1-2 Palmeiras
While Athletico have lost just once at home in the Brasileiro this year and are enjoying a fresh start under new management, it is surely unthinkable that Palmeiras could lose three straight games in the league. Indeed, the free-scoring visitors blazed their way into the Copa Libertadores knockout phase this week and could now turn the corner domestically with another win.

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