In own Morumbi, Sao Paulo takes on Chapecoense in the night from Monday to Tuesday. Both teams look back on their seasonal start in the Brazilian Serie A with gritting teeth and so desperately need the points to avoid having to say goodbye to their ambitions early.
With a twelfth place and only fifteen points from the first ten rounds, Sao Paulo did not exactly have a flawless start to the new season. The Brazilian superpower lost only once, but this early season stuck no less than six times in a draw. In particular, the lack of scoring ability – Sao Paulo only scored nine times this season – the team of coach Cuca broke up several times. Although the difference with the Brazilian top four is only four points, Sao Paulo must be careful that the backlog does not increase further.
Still, Sao Paulo seems to have come out of the Copa America break. Last week it managed to keep the leader Palmeiras on a 1-1 draw. There was even more good news to report this week, as Everton (one of Brazil’s great taste makers during the Copa America) is now fit again and could make its comeback this weekend. In addition, super talent Antony, for whom Ajax and Manchester City were willing to take a deep look, extended his contract this week. With that, you naturally send a clear signal as a club. Sao Paulo also worked on confidence this week by winning a training game against the Under 19 with a whopping 5-0. Attacker Raniel in particular had a hat trick on his hips.
Chapecoense is in the corner where the blows fall. The green and white took home their sixth defeat of the season (1-2) at home against Atletico Mineiro last weekend, and as a result fell further away in the Z-4, the Brazilian relegation zone. The fans also abandoned their club, as only 2,600 supporters came to the stadium last week – the lowest turnout in 2019. Painful, especially because the club board had already significantly reduced the entrance fees as a promotion.
Chapecoense will therefore have to grab points quickly to be able to leave the relegation zone. In an attempt to turn the tide, Henrique Almeida was captured this week. The 28-year-old attacker was once known as an enormous talent. In 2011, for example, he became the world champion for players under twenty with Brazil, and he became a top scorer and was named best player of the tournament. Unlike teammates such as Casemiro, Philippe Coutinho and Neymar, he never managed to break through. Almeida was last active at the Portuguese Belenenses, and has not played a single match since February. So it will take a while before he is fully up to standard again.