The Brazilian hosts have accumulated just four points so far and will bow out in third place, while their Bolivian visitors have five defeats on their notebook and cannot consign their South American sojourn to history quickly enough.
Beaten Copa Libertadores finalists as recently as 2020, the downfall of Santos – which can be attributed to off-field controversies as much as underwhelming showings on the turf – will culmintate in a group-stage exit from the continent’s secondary competition.
Odair Hellmann oversaw a cruel 2-1 loss to section leaders Newell’s Old Boys on matchday five, as a Marcos Portillo strike eight minutes into second-half injury time denied Santos a point and ensured they would end up outside the top two, sparking the beginning of the end for Hellmann.
Having also failed to pull his side out of their rut domestically, Hellmann departed his post last Thursday following a 2-0 Brasileiro defeat to Corinthians to be replaced by former Athletico Paranaense head coach Paulo Turra, who takes the reins with the aim of snapping a 10-game winless run in all tournaments.
Assistant manager Claudiomiro was placed in interim charge for Sunday’s captivating 3-2 home loss to Flamengo – where Santos recovered from going a goal down twice before Erick Pulgar’s effort proved decisive – leaving them 13th in the standings and closer to the relegation zone than the top six at present.
There will evidently be no overnight fix for this Santos team, who have suffered three successive defeats in the 2023 Copa Sudamericana heading into Thursday’s dead rubber, but there are no prizes for guessing who their solitary win came against.
Regulars in the group stage of the Copa Libertadores during the 1980s, Blooming’s inaugural appearance in the group phase of the Copa Sudamericana has been a nightmarish affair, and the Bolivian outfit are 90 minutes away from bowing out without a single point to their name.
The writing was on the wall after three scoreless defeats, and while they have since dusted off their shooting boots to score three goals in their last two continental affairs against Newell’s Old Boys and Audax Italiano, defensive deficiencies continue to plague Carlos Bustos’s men.
After giving runaway leaders Newell’s a good run for their money in a 3-2 loss, Blooming succumbed to a pair of strikes from Audax Italiano attacker Matias Sepulveda in their most recent Copa Sudamericana affair, leaving them rooted to fourth place with no hope of rising any higher on the final day.
Furthermore, the less said about the visitors’ domestic form the better, as a 2-0 defeat to title hopefuls Always Ready on Sunday leaves Blooming in last place in the Bolivian Primera Division, and they are yet to keep a single clean sheet in the 2023 season so far.
While Santos were left crestfallen by a 98th-minute goal in their last continental matchup, the Alvinegro relied on such a late intervention from Eduardo Bauermann to propel them to a 1-0 triumph over Blooming on April 4 – their third win from three games against the out-of-sorts Bolivians after a pair of 5-0 and 1-0 victories in the 2007 Libertadores qualifying stages.
Santos Copa Sudamericana form:
Santos form (all competitions):
Blooming Copa Sudamericana form:
Blooming form (all competitions):
We say: Santos 3-1 Blooming
With the new manager bounce potentially coming into effect for Santos against a leaky Blooming outfit, the stage is set for the under-performing hosts to pick up a morale-boosting win.
Neither head coach should be losing sleep over the result of this game with their fates already sealed, but a convincing triumph for the hosts with a few goals in tow should lead to hope of a revival under Turra’s wing.