With their sights set on moving to the summit of the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A table, Atletico Mineiro will travel to Cuiaba on Thursday in search of a second straight victory.
The visitors currently find themselves two points behind league leaders Palmeiras, while their hosts are just a point above the drop zone.
After avoiding relegation last season, Cuiaba had to endure a tough start to the new Brasileiro campaign, picking up just 13 points from their opening 14 games.
That meant the Dourado found themselves in the bottom four, but they were then able to put an end to a four-game winless run with a 2-1 away victory over Avai, thanks to goals from Valdivia and Joaquim Henrique.
Looking to build on that with a second straight triumph, Antonio Oliveira’s side took on another newly-promoted team and triumphed with a 2-0 win at home to Botafogo, with Alesson and Andre Luis getting on the scoresheet.
They were unable to make it three on the bounce last time out, though, as a tough test away at league leaders Palmeiras finished in a 1-0 defeat, with Gabriel Veron’s goal making the difference.
While the Dourado will be pleased having jumped out of the relegation zone, they do remain just a point above the bottom four and will hope to increase their cushion with a positive result on Thursday.
That will be no easy task, though, as the league’s second-placed team arrive hoping to reclaim top spot.
After winning the league title last season, Atletico Mineiro had to endure a relatively slow start to the new top-flight term by their own standards, and they found themselves off the pace with 16 points from their first 12 outings.
Antonio Mohamed’s side appear to have hit their stride in the last month, though, firstly putting an end to a four-game winless run with a 2-0 beating of Flamengo, before making it back-to-back three-point hauls as they narrowly defeated Fortaleza 3-2.
They were followed by a 2-1 win away at Juventude, thanks to goals from Hulk and Eduardo Sasha, before they triumphed over Emelec to reach the Copa Libertadores quarter-finals and had to settle for a point from a goalless stalemate with Sao Paulo.
Now on the back of a 1-0 win away at Botafogo, with Matias Zaracho hitting the decisive goal, the Alvinegro sit just two points behind Palmeiras at the summit of the top flight, and they will aim to leapfrog the Verdao with what would be a fifth win in six league outings.
Goals have been spread out through the Cuiaba squad in the league so far this season, with no standout scorer, but veteran Rodriguinho remains a key man in attack and should continue to lead the line.
He will again be flanked by dangerous wingers Valdivia and Alesson in Oliveira’s preferred 3-4-3 setup.
Marllon has virtually been an ever-present in the Brasileiro thus far and will again form a key part of the back three with Alan Empereur also set to keep his place.
Atletico Mineiro’s attack will again be spearheaded by star man Hulk, who has netted seven league goals so far this term after hitting the net 19 times in their title-winning campaign last time around.
There is plenty of competition for the remaining spots in the front line, with Chilean veteran Eduardo Vargas vying to start as well as the likes of Matias Zaracho and Nacho Fernandez.
Further back, Allan and Jair should again operate at the base of midfield, shielding Mohamed’s back four.
Cuiaba possible starting lineup:
Walter; Marllon, Henrique, Empereur; Lucas, Gava, Osorio, Igor; Alesson, Rodriguinho, Valdivia
Atletico Mineiro possible starting lineup:
Everson; Mariano, Rabello, Alonso, Arana; Jair, Allan; Zaracho, Fernandez, Vargas; Hulk