Three days after facing each other in a heated Brasileiro Serie A fixture, arch-rivals Sao Paulo and Palmeiras will do battle in the opening leg of their round of 16 Copa do Brasil clash at Estadio Cicero Pompeu de Toledo on Thursday.
Palestra scored twice in the final few minutes Monday, stunning Tricolor Paulista 2-1 and extending their unbeaten run in all competitions to 19 straight games.
Sao Paulo looked poised to win consecutive home games but lost their focus at the most inopportune time, moving down to ninth in the table after losing a second straight domestic encounter.
That was the fifth time in their previous seven domestic contests in which they had failed to hold a second-half advantage, having squandered 13 points from winning positions since May.
After a pair of solid defensive outings in the first two rounds of this competition, Rogerio Ceni’s men reacted well in the second half of their opening third-round fixture versus Juventude, erasing a two-goal deficit, earning a 2-2 draw heading home where they won 2-0 in the return matchup.
The club from the Morumbi district are successful when their defensive midfielders can control and dictate possession, while they rely heavily on their attack-minded players to be adaptive in defensive transitions.
Soberano have made it into the last 16 of this competition for a fourth successive time, advancing beyond this point in each of their previous two campaigns.
In 2022, Sao Paulo have won 15 of their 20 home games played in all competitions, collecting 11 clean sheets, with a mere two losses.
Since the beginning of the year, Palmeiras have shown they will be a tough side to beat, and lately, no one has managed to do so.
Abel Ferreira and his team last suffered a defeat on April 9, 3-2 to Ceara, scoring four winning goals since then with fewer than 10 minutes remaining.
Every time they need to adjust or react, Verdao have been able to do so, erasing a 1-0 deficit in their opening third-round leg versus Juazeirense to earn a 2-1 victory and winning by that same score in the return match, thanks to an 83rd-minute penalty.
Ferreira is full of tactical surprises that tend to catch opposing coaches off guard and make them think, while his players are intelligent enough to apply minor tweaks in the middle of a game.
Palestra are rarely in a hurry to win the ball back when out of possession and have been content to defend deep, waiting for the right moment to strike.
Even though they rarely lose a 50-50 duel, their deep defensive setup can sometimes take a toll on them physically given how much space they need to cover, leading to fatigue in the late stages of an encounter, as their goalkeeper Weverton has been called upon to save the day on multiple occasions.
Robert Arboleda notched a goal for Sao Paulo in each of their third-round fixtures versus Juventude, Reinaldo scored the equaliser in leg one of that tie, while Igor Vinicius netted in the return match and Jandrei picked up a clean sheet.
Patrick has two goals in his last two home games, giving his side the lead versus Palestra until the latter stages this week, while Diego Costa and Eder have each tallied once at this year’s Copa do Brasil.
Jonathan Calleri, who leads the league in goals with nine, continues to search for his first in this competition, and is without a strike in his previous three domestic contests.
Sao Paulo are still without Nikao and Gabriel Sara with ankle problems, Alisson has not recovered from his sprained knee, while Luan and Andres Colorado have thigh injuries.
Goals from Gustavo Gomez and Murilo six minutes apart helped them earn a victory over Tricolor Paulista on Monday, enabling them to remain in first, three points clear of Corinthians.
Four different players found the back of the net for the reigning two-time Copa Libertadores champions in the third round of this tournament, including Danilo, Raphael Veiga, Breno Lopes and Gustavo Scarpa, while Ze Rafael and Rafael Navarro have each tallied one assist.
Marcos Rocha and Veiga are nursing thigh issues, Jorge has a problem in his knee and Jailson is out for the remainder of the campaign with an ACL injury.
Sao Paulo possible starting lineup:
Jandrei; Leo, Arboleda, Costa; Maia; Vinicius, Reinaldo, Neves, Nestor; Calleri, Patrick
Palmeiras possible starting lineup:
Weverton; Jorge, Kuscevic, Gomez, Mayke; Danilo, Menino; Wesley, Scarpa, Lopes; Rony