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Nov 30, 2021 at 11pm UK
Barbosa (3'), Matheuzinho (79')
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Rick (72')
Lima (35')

Preview: Flamengo vs. Ceara - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Flamengo vs. Ceara - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Brasileiro clash between Flamengo and Ceara, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Following a heartbreaking defeat in the final of the Copa Libertadores on Saturday, Flamengo need a win to assure themselves of an outside chance to retain their Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A crown when they host Ceara on Tuesday at the Maracana.

The reigning two-time league champions are in danger of ending the campaign without a trophy for the first time since 2018 as they currently trail Atletico Mineiro by eight points with only four games remaining, while Vozao have come to life, beating Corinthians 2-1 last Thursday to move into eighth in the table.

Match preview

Some extra time drama in Montevideo gave Palmeiras their second consecutive Libertadores title as Deyverson scored in the 95th minute after Urubu had levelled the match with less than 20 minutes to play, denying the side from Rio their first victory in that competition since 2019.

Even though Renato Gaucho's side only had two targeted efforts on Saturday, they had chances to capture the title, and they will rue some of their missed opportunities, particularly the one with five minutes remaining in the second half when substitute Michael got in behind the Palestra backline and chose to volley it wide after his first touch rather than squaring it back to someone in a better shooting position.

There is no time for them to dwell on that match as their chances of becoming the first three-time champions since Sao Paulo are fading with only four games left and a lot of ground to make up on Galo.

If this team fail to get their hands on a trophy this season, it would be a disappointment given the fact that they have a lot more depth at every position than they had in previous league victories, but in 2021 they have relied a little too heavily on individual moments of brilliance from a few players to win them games.

They enter this match with goals in nine consecutive matches in all competitions and have only failed to score once in a league game over the past two months, so the quality is there, but those breathtaking individual moments will not always be enough to earn you three points as they have had to grind out their share of results lately with their last three Serie A matches being decided by a goal or fewer.

Flamengo usually have the bulk of the possession, but none of that matters if you cannot pick out the open guy in dangerous areas or solve a defensive side who sit back with numbers behind the ball, which was the case the last time that they faced Ceara when they drew 1-1 despite having 63% of the possession and five shots on target.

Ceara have been steadily improving in 2021, playing at the moment perhaps their best football of the year, losing only once in their previous nine league games as they are in a position to finish in the top half of the table for the first time since returning into the top flight in 2018.

In their first couple of seasons in Serie A, they were dangerously close to going back down into Serie B, but their patience and work ethic has paid off, and we have seen them play with a lot more determination over the past few months, losing only four matches since September with two of those defeats coming against two of the stronger sides in the top flight, Atletico Mineiro and Palmeiras.

Their last two victories came against teams who have been in a top-six position most of the year (Fortaleza and Corinthians), and those victories have given them a legitimate opportunity to earn a place in the 2022 Copa Libertadores, trailing their rivals Fortaleza by only three points with three games remaining for the final qualifying spot in that competition.

Their style is a sharp contrast to the one employed by the two-time league champions as Tiago Nunes' team rarely need a lot of touches to get the ball up the field and into good scoring positions, as they have had less than 40% of the possession in each of their previous four league victories but were still able to fire 13 shots on target and score eight goals total in those games.

They have drastically improved their defensive shape and their overall composure in matches played away from home, losing only once in their previous six fixtures.

If they can make it into the top six by the end of the year, it will not be by luck or coincidence as they have as demanding a schedule as any side down the stretch of this season, with two of their final three matches being versus sides near the top of the table (Flamengo and Palmeiras), not to mention the fact that both of those games will take place away from home.

Flamengo Brasileiro form:
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D

Flamengo form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • L

Ceara Brasileiro form:
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W

Team News

Rodrigo Caio had to feel like one of the loneliest men on the field this past weekend, as the 28-year-old central defender panicked in his own end in extra time, losing possession to Deyverson, who came in all alone to beat Diego Alves in what ended up being the championship-winning goal for Verdao.

Gabriel Barbosa forced extra time in the second half as he caught Weverton, the Palestra keeper, cheating to one side after being sent free down the wing by Giorgian de Arrascaeta.

Vitinho had their only two goals in their previous league fixture versus Gremio, which ended in a 2-2 draw as he has four in this domestic campaign, one back of Andreas Pereira.

Vina leads Ceara in goals this year with eight and has been on a tear in recent weeks with five in his last four league games, while Yony Gonzalez, who is on loan from Benfica, notched the winner late against Corinthians, his second of the year.

Their goalkeeper Joao Ricardo picked up a caution in their victory over Corinthians, so he will be suspended for this game, which means that Richard will likely replace him in the lineup for this encounter.

Besides the change in goal on Thursday, Nunes made several other moves to their starting 11, including Igor starting at fullback over Gabriel Dias, Luiz Otavio played in central defence rather than Messias, Fabinho played as a holding midfielder instead of William Oliveira and Stiven Mendoza was inserted into the lineup as an attacking midfielder, replacing Rick.

Flamengo possible starting lineup:
Alves; Luis, Luiz, Caio, Isla; Maia, Arao; B. Henrique, De Arrascaeta; Vitinho; Barbosa

Ceara possible starting lineup:
Richard; Igor, Lacerda, Otavio, Pacheco; Kelvyn, Fabinho; Gonzalez, Vina, Lima; Jael

We say: Flamengo 2-1 Ceara

Under most circumstances, Flamengo could be ripe for the picking, coming off an emotional defeat in the cup final and with just a few days to rest, however because their reign as Serie A champions is in jeopardy, they should be motivated enough to fight hard and put some pressure on Atletico Mineiro to have to pick up some more points to claim the title.

Fatigue may play a factor in this one, but Gaucho has a variety of talented players at every position who can step up when called upon, which is something Ceara will have difficulties matching, given their resources.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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