The two sides drew 1-1 at Arena Fonte Nova in the first leg of their quarter-final tie last week.
Having bounced back into Brazil’s Serie A at the first attempt last season, Gremio are enjoying a stellar campaign under Renato Gaucho, who is in his fourth managerial spell at the club.
Gaucho and his players have defied all reasonable expectations by sitting third in the table after 14 league games, while their hopes of winning Brazil’s domestic cup for the sixth time in the club’s history remain firmly alive after Cuiabano’s injury-time equaliser last week.
Gremio had trailed for the majority of the second half following Everaldo Stum’s strike two minutes after the break, but the substitute made a superb impact to put his side in the driving seat ahead of the second leg at Arena do Gremio on Wednesday.
The match has arguably taken on greater importance after their outside title hopes were dashed by runaway leaders Botafogo at the weekend, with late efforts from Carlos Eduardo and Carlos Alberto providing their side with a huge 10-point cushion at the top of Brazil’s top flight.
Bahia, meanwhile, appear more likely to be fighting against relegation this season, which was to be expected after also being promoted alongside Gremio at the end of the previous campaign.
They have regularly bounced between the top two divisions within the last 25 years, even falling to the third tier in 2006, having only recorded two top-half finishes since winning their second Serie A title in 1988.
Given that they have never lifted the Copa do Brasil, Cuiabano’s last-gasp equaliser represented a monumental blow to the home fans in attendance at Arena Fonte Nova, with Renato Paiva hoping to make history as the first manager at Bahia to taste victory in this competition.
Of course, that remains a distinct possibility, but there is little doubt that their job has become much harder now that they must avoid defeat away to one of the in-form teams in the country.
Gremio Copa do Brasil form:
Gremio form (all competitions):
Bahia Copa do Brasil form:
Bahia form (all competitions):
We say: Gremio 2-1 Bahia
Gremio are likely to be hurting a little after they fell 10 points behind Botafogo after losing at home to them in the league at the weekend.
Cuiabano’s injury-time equaliser has clearly put the hosts in a strong position heading into this second leg, and we expect them to get the job done to reach the last four of Brazil’s primary domestic cup, even if Bahia are likely to provide them with a stern test along the way.