MX23RW : Sunday, September 26 09:43:21| >> :600:180267:180267:
Jul 4, 2021 at 10.15pm UK at Castelao
Saulo (48'), Lacerda (53')
Jael (76'), Buiu (77')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Castilho (64'), Pacheco (80')
Castilho (70')

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

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Brasileiro clash between Ceara and Juventude, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Promoted Juventude seek to continue their bright start to life in the top flight, as they travel to meet mid-table Ceara on Sunday.

The pair are separated by just two points in the Serie A standings, following four-match unbeaten runs in the Campeonato Brasileiro.

Match preview

Juventude's Elton celebrates with teammates after the match on June 27, 2021© Reuters

After finishing third in the second tier last season, Juventude have taken to the elite level with apparent ease so far - having picked up 12 points from their opening eight games to sit comfortably inside the top half of the table.

In fact, Juve have collected ten of those points from their last four outings, including back-to-back wins over big names Flamengo and Gremio during the past week.

Currently on loan from top club Bragantino, striker Matheus Peixoto has hit the ground running this term and got his name on the scoresheet in both of his side's successive victories.

Head coach Marquinhos Santos saw his men take the opportunity to make it three wins from four against struggling Gremio last time out - despite having only 30% possession - as he looks to engineer their Serie A survival come the end of the season.

Now, the former Chapecoense boss will take them to the far north east, to meet a Ceara side who have established themselves as regular mid-table finishers in recent years.

Santos is seeking to emulate such stability, but may need some of his other forwards to take the pressure off top scorer Peixoto soon, as his attack have only registered seven league goals so far.

Ceara's Saulo Mineiro with teammates after the match on June 20, 2021© Reuters

One of many outside contenders for a place in the top six - which would mean Copa Libertadores qualification - Ceara went unbeaten through a recent quartet of tricky fixtures and sit 12th coming into the weekend.

Manager Guto Ferreira oversaw a goalless stalemate at league leaders Bragantino in midweek, having previously steered his side to draws with two of Brazil's megaclubs, Internacional and Sao Paulo. Those games came either side of a 2-1 win at Atletico Mineiro, so confidence has been building in the camp.

Ferreira has even had to deal with a recent COVID-19 outbreak among the squad, which undermined his preparations for several of last month's fixtures, and will be pleased to have kept momentum in the meantime.

The Alvinegro have never finished higher than seventh in the top tier of Brazilian football and are currently participating in their fourth consecutive Serie A season after enduring a 17-year absence from the big time, but will need to capitalise on home games against newly-promoted teams if they are to break new ground this term.

Indeed, the last time they met Juventude in the league was back in 2017, when they won this equivalent fixture 2-0, and a repeat of that result would take them one small step closer to satisfying their ambition of creating history for the modest club from Fortaleza.

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

Juventude Brasileiro form:
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W

Team News

Juventude manager Marquinhos Santos pictured in 2019© Reuters

Head coach Marquinhos Santos is set to keep his 4-2-3-1 formation, which has served Juventude so well in recent weeks, and their forward line will again be led by Matheus Peixoto, who has netted in each of the last four games.

The in-form striker should be supported by Paulinho - who also scored in midweek - and Wescley from out wide, with Guilherme Castilho most likely to start in behind.

Ceara, meanwhile, have been boosted by the return of several players from quarantine, including Luiz Otavio, Fabinho and Cleber - though the latter was sent off in stoppage time against Bragantino and must miss out.

Another of those unfortunate enough to contract COVID-19, goalkeeper Richard was brought straight back into the side for the 1-1 draw with Sao Paulo last weekend and subsequently kept a clean sheet on Thursday.

However, both Joao Ricardo and Vitor Jacare remain out of action for Guto Ferreira's side due to injury.

Ceara possible starting lineup:
Richard; Buiu, Messias, Lacerda, Pacheco; Sobral, Marlon; Lima, Vinicius, Mendoza; Mineiro

Juventude possible starting lineup:
Carne; Michel, Mendes, Forster, Matheus; Castilho, Elton, Jesus; Wescley, Peixoto, Paulinho

SM words green background

We say: Ceara 1-1 Juventude

While Ceara have made themselves tough to beat so far, Juventude have given an excellent account of themselves since being promoted to the top flight.

Neither team is packed with goalscoring prowess either - though Juve's Matheus Peixoto is enjoying a purple patch and could find the net again here - so a low-scoring draw is the most probable outcome.

Top tip

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Palmeiras' Wesley Ribeiro Silva celebrates scoring their third goal on June 6, 2021
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