Closing this first half of the Brazilian championship, Santos goes to Santa Catarina to face Avaí in a match that features two teams with opposite objectives and spots in the league table.
Santos is in 3rd place, with 34 points while Avaí has only 17 points and is in 18th place.
Santos comes into this match after an heroic win against Flamengo at the Pacaembu, which ensured this team to have a nice lead within the front of the pack.
Santos have now assumed the role of ignoring their opponents and focusing on their own matches only, since Corinthians has a large lead in 1st place, so now they just got to keep winning, while hoping for Corinthians to slip.
This match comes right before the most important match of the season for Santos, which is the 2nd leg, at home, of the Copa Libertadores’ tie against Atlético PR.
Despite that, Levir said he is not going to rest, and their main players should still be present here, with the exception of David Braz, Yuri and Lucas Lima, who are suspended.
Speaking about Lucas Lima, I think this suspension is actually good for Santos. Not to say that he is not talented or useful, but by missing this match he will be rested for the mid-week match against Atlético.
Also, in my opinion, he doesn’t really fit well with Santos’ usual playstyle away from home, so it shouldn’t be too important.
Even with Lucas, the team struggles to produce offensively, and they end up losing defensive power in the midfield, since Lucas Lima is a slow player that isn’t very good defensively.
With Jean Motta as his replacement, if the team doesn’t gain much offensively, they will definitely win with his marking ability.
Levir has already announced his line-up, which will be:
Vanderlei; Victor Ferraz, Lucas Veríssimo, Fabián Noguera e Zeca; Renato, Alison e Jean Mota; Copete, Bruno Henrique and Ricardo Oliveira
Avaí comes into this match after a painful mauling imposed by the contested Atlético PR (5-0), which kept them in the relegation zone.
The result has outraged some fans, who threw stones at the team’s bus, in an attempt to turn the Santa Catarina team’s fate around in this campaign..
Avai vs Santos Pick:
Although Avaí is always a team fighting to maintain in the top tier, when they are in it, they were usually really strong and obtained most of their points at home. However, in 2017, the team can’t really find that success, despite having the support of their fans.
With a single win on their last 6 matches, the team is in a precarious situation in the league table.
Santos comes into this with a 10 match unbeaten streak and has shown some consistency over the course of the season. Despite not performing brilliantly against Flamengo, the team was able to come from behind and showed great resilience, winning the match away from home.
The team’s confidence has definitely increased after that match, especially because of the recent rivalry between the two teams. This time against Avaí, the team knows that they are forced to grab some points and if possible win, since they are facing a team in the relegation zone that is on bad form.
While Santos has a good momentum after beating Flamengo, Avaí are crushed after their 5-0 loss. So I believe that Santos can at least take a point home, but I can definitely see the team from São Paulo win.