Santos - Corinthians Preview: Neymar & Co. look to continue Copa Libertadores defence against rivals
The two rivals will compete against one another in South America's premier club competition for the first time and there is a place in the final at stake
By Tom Webber
Henrique, Edu Dracena, Durval, Juan
Anderson, Arouca, Elano
Alan Kardec, Neymar
Alessandro, Chicao, L. Castan, F. Santos
Jorge Henrique, Emerson
Muricy Ramalho will stick with his 4-3-1-2 formation and has been resting players in recent league games, as has Tite for Corinthians, ahead of the Classico Alvinegro.
Ganso could make a dramatic return after undergoing knee surgery last month, which ruled him out of Brazil's recent friendlies. The playmaker has recommenced training in the past few days and could be in line to start for Santos against their Paulista rivals.
Henrique will likely continue as a makeshift right-back as Jorge Fucile remains sidelined through injury. Rafael and Neymar, however, are available after returning from international duty, with the latter likely to start alongside Alan Kardec in attack.
Tite has decided to select a team that could play without a reference point in attack. The pacy duo of Jorge Henrique and Emerson will look to exploit the ageing Santos defenders by running in behind and stretching the defence. Ralf or Paulinho will be tasked with the duty of keeping Ganso's time on the ball to a minimum.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Of their 301 meetings, Corinthians possess the better win ratio over their Paulista rivals with 122 victories compared to Santos' 96.
- The Timao are the reigning Brazilian champions, having secured the 2011 title with a 0-0 draw against Palmeiras on the final day of the season.
- Corinthians have never won the Copa Libertadores but were crowned world champions in 2000. They qualified for the inaugural Fifa Club World Cup as Brasileirao winners.
- Santos came out on top the last time these two sides met. Ibson scored the only goal in a 1-0 win in the Peixe's Paulista-winning campaign this year.
- Despite the huge amount of times that these clubs have met, they have never before gone head-to-head in the Copa Libertadores.
- Santos are the reigning Libertadores champions. They defeated Penarol 2-1 on aggregate in last year's final.
- Whoever progresses will face either Argentine giants Boca Juniors or impressive Chilean outfit Universidad de Chile in the final.
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Top 3 Predictions
Santos 2-1 Corinthians
- 14.43 %
Santos 2-0 Corinthians
- 11.34 %
Santos 1-0 Corinthians
- 9.28 %
|Brasileiro Serie A (BRA1)||Nov 24, 2012||Corinthians 1 - Santos 1|
|Brasileiro Serie A (BRA1)||Aug 19, 2012||Santos 3 - Corinthians 2|
|Copa Libertadores (CL)||Jun 21, 2012||Corinthians 1 - Santos 1|
|Copa Libertadores (CL)||Jun 14, 2012||Santos 0 - Corinthians 1|
|Brasileiro Serie A (BRA1)||Sep 18, 2011||Corinthians 1 - Santos 3|
|Jun 12, 2013||Santos 1 - Atlético Mineiro 0||BRA1|
|Jun 5, 2013||Criciuma 3 - Santos 1||BRA1|
|Jun 1, 2013||Santos 1 - Gremio 1||BRA1|
|May 29, 2013||Botafogo 2 - Santos 1||BRA1|
|May 26, 2013||Santos 0 - Flamengo 0||BRA1|
|Returns:||Santos £150.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Returns:||Draw £38.00||Sign up with William Hill for a free bet up to £25|
|Returns:||Corinthians £45.00||Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
Who else? The 20-year-old is already an icon at the club and but could go down as a legend if he can inspire Santos to the Libertadores title again. Having already helped secure three consecutive Paulista titles, a feat that no club had achieved since the time of Pele, Neymar could also match O Rei's accomplishment of back-to-back titles. He was in red-hot form throughout the state championship and will no doubt relish being on the big stage again. Tite has suggested that he will not play Neymar any special attention during the game but he would do well to follow the lead of Velez's Gino Peruzzi who marked the young Brazilian out of the game in the previous round. However, Neymar has shown time and again that he can provide that moment of genius at any point and Peixe fans will be hoping he can supply that again on Wednesday evening.
The former Spartak Moscow midfielder will be Corinthians' creative hub at the Vila Belmiro. His array of passing is astounding but he is also willing to run at defenders in order to help create space for his team-mates. He is hardly prolific in front of goal but his proficiency at striking a dead ball is among the best on the continent and the visitors will look to make the most of his set pieces. The success of Jorge Henrique and Emerson in attack will largely hinge on the supply offered by the 30-year-old. If Santos take the initiative and attack from the early stages then his influence will wane but they will need to be careful not to give away cheap free kicks, something that seems unlikely with Edu Dracena and Durval coming up against pacy forwards.
This is a very difficult match to predict given the amount of rest that has been given to both sides. With the focus on this match, many players have been spared recent Brasileirao fixtures. However, Santos have recent experience in this environment having lifted the trophy last season and they possess the greater individual quality. Corinthians however have formed a very strong team and will provide stout opposition. The key for them will be minimising the time that Neymar and Ganso are given on the ball whilst looking to stretch the Peixe defence with their superior acceleration up front. If the hosts sit deep to avoid such a tactic they could find themselves under a lot of pressure from attacking-midfield duo Danilo and Alex, but Santos should have enough to take advantage in the first leg.
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed