Galo erased a 1-0 deficit this past weekend, defeating Fluminense 2-1, while Bahia conceded in injury time, losing 2-1 to Atletico Goianiense, their first defeat in their last three league games.
After Juventude scored a 1-0 win over Bragantino on Tuesday, Bahia find themselves in the unenviable position of having to catch other teams to avoid descent into Serie B, currently in the final relegation position, trailing Athletico Paranaense by two points.
Guto Ferreira knows that his side cannot depend on other games to remain in the top flight next year as they did not get the help that they were looking for earlier this week and must now take care of business on their own if they are to remain in the top flight next year.
Their schedule is a demanding one down the stretch of the season, as they follow up this match with a game against Fluminense on Sunday and wrap up their domestic campaign with a trip to Fortaleza, so by no means are they assured of making it into Serie A next season.
Baea will be happy to know that their next two league games will be on their home ground, unbeaten in their previous eight fixtures played there, collecting a clean sheet in two of their last three matches.
Holding the opposition scoreless is a feat for this team when they can do it, which so far in 2021 has not been very often, as they have given up the third-most goals in Serie A (46), with only Gremio and Chapecoense allowing more.
Given how potent their top striker Gilberto has been this season, scoring 12 times, it has to be a little surprising to see them so close to being relegated, as their midfielders have not had enough consistent creativity in recent games to provide him with the best service possible to score.
It is a moment that fans of Atletico Mineiro have waited 50 years for, and even though many of them may not be able to attend this match in person, it is safe to assume that thousands of supporters of the club from Belo Horizonte will be glued to their television to watch what they hope will be a joyous occasion.
It has been seven years since this team last captured a championship on the national or international stage, winning the 2013 Copa Libertadores, but a league triumph could mean a lot more to this team.
Given what is at stake, Cuca will want his players to treat this just like any other match so that they do not let this moment get the best of them.
They come into this game winners of six of their previous seven league affairs, and Galo will want to clinch the title sooner rather than later so that they can shift their focus to the Copa do Brasil, which takes place in the middle of December as they battle Athletico Paranaense in a two-leg final.
This team have had their share of adversity this year and have been remarkably resilient in recent fixtures, coming back twice to draw Palmeiras at Allianz Parque last week and scoring two unanswered goals at Minerao to go undefeated against Flu this season in all competitions.
Even though 38 points in the table separate these sides, this is not a foregone conclusion as Bahia were able to upset Galo at Fonte Nova Arena earlier this year, winning 2-1 in the second leg of their quarter-final tie at the Copa do Brasil, although Atletico advanced 3-2 on aggregate.
Juninho Capixaba, who scored the winner for Bahia in their Copa do Brasil victory against Galo back in August, will not be available for this match after receiving two yellow cards in their defeat to Goianiense on Monday.
Former Fulham winger Hugo Rodallega scored the only goal for his side in that defeat as he remains in second on the team in goals behind Gilberto, while Rossi is their top playmaker with five assists this year.
Danilo Fernandes has only conceded once in his last three starts in goal at home but has got plenty of help from his backline, including Nino Paraiba, German Conti, Luiz Otavio and Matheus Bahia, who did not concede in a single shot on target in their 0-0 draw at home to Cuiaba a couple of games ago.
Hulk has been in excellent goalscoring form all year long for Atletico and has taken his game to another level recently with five goals in his last three matches, including a brace in their weekend fixture with Flu, as he leads the team in goals and assists and is positioned nicely to capture the Golden Boot with 17 goals domestically this season, four more than the next closest player, Michael from Flamengo.
In their previous domestic meeting with Bahia back in July, Nathan scored the third goal in a 3-0 victory, one of only two for him this year, while Eduardo Sasha picked up an assist on the winning goal scored by Hulk in the second half of that match.
In his last three games, Diego Costa is without a goal after scoring the winner in a 3-0 win over Corinthians, while Everson leads the league with 16 clean sheets this season, although he has conceded three goals in his last two encounters.
Bahia possible starting lineup:
Fernandes; Bahia, Henrique, Conti, Guedes; Mugni, Patrick; Ramirez, Rodriguinho, Rossi; Gilberto
Atletico Mineiro possible starting lineup:
Everson; Mariano, Silva, Alonso, Dodo; Tche Tche, Allan; Fernandez, Costa, Zaracho; Hulk
We say: Bahia 0-2 Atletico Mineiro
With the title now within reach, Atletico do not look like they will be denied no matter how well or poorly they play in this encounter.
Bahia have been impressive at home, so they could cause Galo some problems early on, but there is just too much quality and depth with Atletico as opposed to Bahia, who have Gilberto but no one else who can consistently be a threat, which should make the defensive assignment for the league leaders reasonably simple.
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