Preview: America Mineiro vs. Fortaleza – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday’s Copa Sudamericana clash between America Mineiro and Fortaleza, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

America Mineiro and Fortaleza will square off in the opening leg of their quarter-final tie at the Copa Sudamericana on Thursday at Estadio Raimundo Sampaio in Belo Horizonte.

It is the first time either Brazilian side have made it into the last eight of this competition, with America eliminating Bragantino on penalties in the previous round, while Leao do Pici edged Libertad 2-1 on aggregate.

Match preview

America Mineiro's Danilo Avelar celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on June 22, 2023© Reuters

In what has been a relatively dismal Brasileiro Serie A campaign thus far, with Mineiro dead-last on 10 points, the club based in Belo Horizonte are as close to lifting a continental trophy as they have ever been.

Vagner Mancini guided them into the knockout stage of this competition, edging out Millonarios by a single goal for second place, but a series of poor results in the league led to his sacking earlier this month.

Two matches into the tenure of Fabian Bustos, and we have seen a lot of the same things from this side, who have lost their only two games played under the Argentine boss, leaving this team without a domestic victory since early June (2-0 win over Corinthians).

While they have not put up much of a fight in the league to date, Coelho have been resilient and reacted well when facing a setback at the Sudamericana.

In the knockout round playoffs, they erased a 2-1 deficit after the first leg with a convincing 5-1 triumph in the return match versus Colo-Colo before coming back to draw both encounters versus Bragantino, eliminating a side who are currently 22 points above them in the domestic table.

Both of their victories in the league this year have come on home soil, and that is where this team have been at their best offensively in this tournament, with America scoring 14 of their 22 goals at Estadio Raimundo Sampaio.

Fortaleza coach Juan Pablo Vojvoda on May 14, 2023© Reuters

In the nick of time, Fortaleza were able to find a breakthrough in the second leg of their round of 16 clash with Libertad, levelling that match at 1-1 in the final few minutes and avoiding a penalty shootout as a result.

That was only the second time that Fortaleza had been behind in this competition, while they have not won a competitive match all year when trailing at the half.

Juan Pablo Vojvoda‘s men are a scrappy side who thrive in transition but have had to fight off their share of physical opponents, with Libertad committing 29 fouls against them in two matches.

Breaking up the speedy transitional style they employ seems to be how many of their opponents have been dealing with this team throughout the campaign, though, despite all that, the club from Ceara are in the top half of the Brasileiro Serie A standings (eighth) and have only suffered one defeat at the Sudamericana this year.

Their only defeat in this competition occurred on the road on matchday five versus Estudiantes Merida (1-0), and since then, they have had mixed results away from home, losing four of their previous six league fixtures on the road, but winning their last two encounters in this competition as the visitors by a combined score of 3-1.

All three of their previous visits to Estadio Raimundo Sampaio have been settled by a 2-1 score, two of which went the way of the home team, including in May when America scored 14 minutes after Clube da Garotada had levelled the match at one.

America Mineiro Copa Sudamericana form:

America Mineiro form (all competitions):

Fortaleza Copa Sudamericana form:

Fortaleza form (all competitions):

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Team News

Thiago Galhardo celebrates scoring for Fortaleza on September 10, 2022© Reuters

Adyson and Aloisio could be out of the America lineup until early September with an ankle and thigh issue respectively, while Ricardo Silva is not expected back until the middle of next month from his knee injury.

Gonzalo Mastriani scored three times in their round of 16 clash, none more important than his penalty converted in the 10th minute of added time in the second leg to force a penalty shootout, where he missed from 12-yards out but was reprieved when Matheus Cavichioli stopped Leo Ortiz and Thiago Borbas from the spot, allowing Coehlo to advance.

The last time they met, Fortaleza, Breno and Felipe Azevedo scored in the opening half, while Mateus Pasinato stopped five of the six shots that he faced to preserve their advantage.

Fortaleza will be without Hercules for the remainder of the campaign because of a torn ACL, Calebe is out until early September with a knee injury and Marcelo Benevenuto will be suspended for this encounter following his red card in injury time versus Libertad.

A few minutes before his expulsion, Marinho had their equalising goal, which ultimately enabled them to advance into the last eight, while Ze Welison had the only strike in their opening leg victory last round, with Joao Ricardo making four saves for the clean sheet.

Thiago Galhardo had a brace in their only victory away from home versus America Mineiro in the 2022 domestic campaign, with Romarinho and Pedro Rocha collecting assists.

America Mineiro possible starting lineup:
Cavichioli; Rodriguinho, Eder, Julio, Marlon; Benitez, Mendez, Kal, Juninho, Ale; Mastriani

Fortaleza possible starting lineup:
Ricardo; Tinga, Britez, Titi, Pacheco; Welison, Alexandre, Augusto; Pochettino, Pikachu, Machuca

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We say: America Mineiro 1-1 Fortaleza

America have shown plenty of resilience and quality at home in this year’s competition, but they might find it harder to penetrate a defensive unit who have been a little more consistent throughout the campaign than Bragantino.

Fortaleza have put together their share of positive results on the road this season, and we expect they will be in another scrappy affair this week, which might make it harder for them to create chances in transition.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

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