Current title contenders Sao Paulo have a chance to capture their first road victory of this Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A campaign when they head to Estadio Olimpico Nilton Santos to face relegation-threatened Botafogo on Thursday.
Fogo are winless in their previous five domestic encounters, while Tricolor Paulista have points in nine straight league contests and are sitting in third.
At the moment, times are tough for the newly-promoted club from Rio, who have dropped four consecutive matches, sliding down into the final relegation position with 12 points.
Losing to the likes of Palmeiras can be understood, given their talent and top-flight experience, but Botafogo have failed to earn any points versus teams near them in the table, as three of their last four defeats have come against sides who were with them in Serie B a season ago (Coritiba, Goias and Avai).
Despite having the bulk of the possession over their current four-game losing streak, they have not been able to find that finishing touch, without a goal in three of their last four league matches.
Manager Luis Castro has reiterated that he does not intend to make drastic changes to the team’s tactics or formation despite their recent struggles, instead calling on his players to increase their intensity and competitive attitude.
From the outset of this Serie A campaign, Castro has called his side a construction project which they need to keep building over the next few years by remaining in the first tier.
Their offensive approach has not been effective in recent matches due to a lack of duels being won in the final third and middle of the field, which their boss has vowed to address.
Sao Paulo continue to find ways to pick up points, as they remained unbeaten at home this year thanks to a 1-0 triumph over America Mineiro this past weekend.
Rogerio Ceni has employed a unique approach which focuses on overloading the middle of the field with skilled players who are vital in transition.
This strategy has worked well because of the talent that we have seen from their forward players, along with a tireless work rate, which has allowed them to cover spaces when out of possession.
While they have not conceded much defensively, it seems as though there is a heavy dependence on Jonathan Calleri to score, as they have not had as many secondary contributors to this point of the season.
Sitting four points behind the league leaders Palmeiras at this stage of the season is an improvement from where they were in 2021 under previous boss Hernan Crespo, when they only won two of their first 11 contests and were in early relegation danger.
Away from home, this team have had a hard time maintaining an advantage, failing to hold onto a second-half lead in their previous four road games, drawing Fortaleza, Corinthians, Avai and Coritiba by a 1-1 score.
Botafogo made two changes to their starting 11 against Avai on Monday, with Chay and Erison drawing into the squad in place of Lucas Fernandes and Renzo Saravia.
The team seems to be missing the presence of a solid number nine since their top goalscorer in Serie B last season, Rafael Navarro, moved to Palmeiras.
Erison and Diego are their leading contributors this year, with five and two tallies, respectively, while Daniel Borges leads them in assists with two.
Renzo Saravia missed their match on Monday through suspension, Diego Goncalves has not recovered from his thigh issue and Gustavo Sauer is out until late June with an ankle injury.
Patrick notched his first domestically for Sao Paulo on Sunday, while Jandrei stopped five shots, collecting his second clean sheet of the 2022 Brasileiro season.
After Calleri, Luciano is their next highest goalscorer, with three, well back of the Argentine, who leads the league with nine, while Eder, Rodrigo Nestor and Reinaldo all have one.
Alisson remains sidelined with a sprained knee, while Nikao and Gabriel Sara are still recovering from ankle injuries.
Botafogo possible starting lineup:
Fernandez; Saravia, Kanu, Cuesta, Hugo; Oyama, Chay; Lopes, Del Piage, Sa; Erison
Sao Paulo possible starting lineup:
Jandrei; Maia, Miranda, Leo; Luan; Nestor, Gomes, Reinaldo, Rafinha; Calleri, Luciano