Preview: Fluminense vs. Bahia

Preview: Fluminense vs. Bahia

Still aiming to break into the top four in the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A, Fluminense will welcome Bahia to the Maracana on Saturday.

A draw with Atletico Mineiro last time out left the hosts fifth and still only behind their opponents by one point, while their visitors climbed to 14th spot with an important victory in midweek.

Following a third-placed finish in the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A last season, and in their bid to win the Brazilian top flight for the first time since 2012, Fluminense have enjoyed a relatively positive start to the new campaign, currently sitting fifth with 18 points on the board from their opening 11 outings.

Fernando Diniz’s side would win four of their opening six league matches before being halted by back-to-back defeats at the hands of Botafogo and Corinthians in late May, but they would bounce back with a 2-1 triumph over Botafogo earlier this month courtesy of goals from Paulo Henrique Ganso and Felipe Melo.

After that was followed by a 2-0 defeat away at River Plate in the Copa Libertadores group stage, the Fluzao now head into the weekend on the back of two consecutive league draws, with their trip to Goias eventually finishing level at two goals apiece, despite German Cano and Lima putting them ahead on two separate occasions before Alesson equalised for the hosts five minutes from time.

Diniz’s side then hosted fourth-placed Atletico Mineiro in a crucial contest on Thursday, with just a single point separating the sides at the top end of the division, and after going behind through a Guga own goal, the Fluzao did draw level on the stroke of half time thanks to Samuel Xavier’s finish but were unable to find a winner and had to settle for a share of the spoils as a result.

Such a result leaves Fluminense still within touching distance of fourth spot and Flamengo in third place, but with Botafogo and Palmeiras establishing a gap at the summit, they will know they require a run of three-point hauls, starting on Saturday, if they are to establish themselves in the leading pack.

They meet a Bahia side who did their hosts a favour on Thursday by beating a fellow high-flyer, after enduring a tough start to the Brasileiro campaign on their return to the top flight.

Following their promotion, the Bahiaco were able to put their first two victories on the board in the third and fourth rounds of league fixtures of the term, beating Vasco da Gama and Coritiba respectively, but they would then have to endure a six-game winless run.

That began with defeats to Santos and Flamengo, and following a loss to Internacional and draws with Goias, Fortaleza and Cruzeiro, Renato Paiva’s side faced another unenviable test at home to second-placed Palmeiras last time out in their bid to return to winning ways.

The Bahiaco did stand strong in that meeting to keep the defending champions at bay, and with the game looking set to end goalless, they managed to snatch a somewhat unlikely three-point haul in injury time as Thaciano popped up with the decisive goal.

Having lifted some pressure with that triumph, Bahia now sit 14th in the Brazilian top flight with just a two-point gap up to Cruzeiro in the top half, and they will hope to take another major scalp on Saturday to further improve their position and increase their cushion over the bottom end of the table.

Fluminense Brasileiro form:
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Fluminense form (all competitions):
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Bahia Brasileiro form:
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Bahia form (all competitions):
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We say: Fluminense 2-1 Bahia
Bahia will have renewed confidence after beating Palmeiras last time out, but Saturday presents a particularly difficult test and we back Fluminense to have just enough to make a return to winning ways on home turf.

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