Santos make the short trip to Campinas as they face off with Ponte Preta in Thursday’s Brazilian Serie A clash. A close game is expected as both sides fight for important points.
Hosts Ponte are just one of a number of teams involved in the relegation battle and currently sit 15th, 1 point clear of the drop zone. Macaca’s hopes of avoiding the drop were boosted a few weeks ago, when Eduardo Baptista, the man who lead them to an 8th placed finish last term, returned to the dugout after failed spells at Palmeiras and Atletico PR.
Baptista lead the side to 13 wins from 19 outings in front of the home crowd last term, and home form is going to be imperative if his team are to avoid playing in Serie B next season. The 47 year old has been in charge for 3 games now, narrowly losing on the road at Chapecoense and Cruzeiro, but picking up where he left off at the Estádio Moisés Lucarelli with a 1-0 win over Flamengo last week.
Meanwhile, Santos have responded perfectly to their recent Copa Libertadores quarter final exit, picking up back to back league wins over Atletico PR and Palmeiras, as they seek to cut runaway leaders Corinthians margin for error at the top.
Levir Culpi has lead Peixe well throughout the campaign, but a slow start under predecessor Dorival Júnior has left Santos playing catch up, and they still trail their state rivals by 8 points as we enter the latter stages of the campaign.
The two teams look too hard to separate. Prior to Baptista’s return to Ponte you’d have fancied the visitors to pick up the three points, but it’s going to be a far more complicated affair, given how strong the side are in Campinas under his watch.
Backing the draw certainly looks appealing and that’s where our money is going. Ponte will make themselves difficult to break down as they seek to grind out a result, and Santos are not a particularly expansive side themselves on the road and should find it difficult to pick up the win they so desperately need. The visitors have drawn 5 of their last 7 league games away from home, and we see that becoming 6 from 8 in a 1-1 draw.
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