The Série A title race is wide open after three defeats in four matches for leaders Corinthians and the excellent form of Palmeiras. But Palmeiras missed an opportunity to take the lead at the top of the Série A after they only managed a draw against Cruzeiro on Monday night. Had they won that game, a win in this Sunday’s classico against Corinthians would have taken them top of the log.
A 2 – 2 draw against an in form Cruzeiro team is nothing to be ashamed of, but the result means that Palmeiras have lost some momentum going into this Sunday’s derby. If they had beaten Cruzeiro they would have been just three points behind Corinthians, meaning that a win this Sunday would have taken them top of the league and left their title destiny in their own hands.
As it stands if Palmeiras win this weekend, they would close to gap with Corinthians to just two points and they surely will have the chance to overhaul their rival in the remaining six games – I can’t see Corinthians winning six games in a row. But not only did Palmeiras drop two important points on Monday night, they also handed Corinthians a small phycological boost ahead of this Sunday’s derby. Now I suspect Corinthians will be happy with a draw on Sunday, and their defence is very good.
A five-point lead at the top of the table with seven games to go sounds like a fairly comfortable lead, but Corinthians are in a mini crisis. They whimpered to a 1 – 0 defeat against relegation threatened Ponte Preta over the weekend and they have only scored once in their last four games. Up top is where their problem lies. The team looks a shell of the team that dominated the first half of the season. The fans are angry and the spray paint is out. At this rate some might even start calling for their coach Carille to go soon.
Palmeiras, meanwhile, are on the up. After sacking their title winning coach Cuca one month ago, they have won three out of their last five games since he left. They have also managed to whittle the gap with Corinthians from 14 points at the start of September to just five points now. Felipe Melo is back in the fray, Borja is coming into form and the squad has strength in depth, particularly in attack, unlike Corinthians.
But these matches are never decided by the form book. Corinthians vs Palmeiras is one of the fiercest rivalries in world football and form often counts for nothing in these big derby matches. Corinthians have the temperament to succeed. But do they have the quality? Form or no form, Sunday’s match promises to be a cracker. For UK readers, the match is being shown live on the BT Sport / ESPN channel at 7pm UK time (5pm Brazil).
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