MX23RW : Thursday, September 23 20:58:00| >> :120:11590:11590:
Jul 14, 2021 at 1.30am UK at Estádio Cícero Pompeu de Toledo
Sao PauloSao Paulo
RacingRacing Club
Bueno (35')
Diego (40'), Arboleda (47'), Perri (78')
FT(HT: 1-1)
Copetti (45+1')
Mena (14'), Sigali (77'), Correa (89'), Rojas (90+2')

Preview: Sao Paulo vs. Racing Club - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Copa Libertadores clash between Sao Paulo and Racing Club, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Three-times champions Sao Paulo welcome Argentina's Racing Club to Morumbi on Wednesday, as the pair go head-to-head in the last 16 of the Copa Libertadores.

Having taken four points from two group-stage matches between the teams in May, the visitors will be confident of success - particularly given their hosts' lacklustre start to the Campeonato Brasileiro.

Match preview

Sao Paulo's Gabriel Sara celebrates scoring their second goal with Martin Benitez on June 23, 2021© Reuters

Mired in the Serie A relegation zone as recently as last week, only back-to-back victories over Internacional and Bahia have seen Sao Paulo finally get their 2021 domestic campaign on track during the past few days.

Recording their first win after nine league matches has relieved at least some of the pressure on head coach Hernan Crespo's shoulders before the visit of one of his homeland's most celebrated clubs on Wednesday.

Former Milan striker Crespo took charge of his new team earlier this year, following modest spells as a manager in Argentina and in Italy, where he spent most of his most successful playing days.

Though he led Sao Paulo to the regional Campeonato Paulista title in May and helped them sail through Group E of the Copa Libertadores behind this week's opponents, the Tricolor's manager has seen his team record a mediocre tally of just eight league goals so far this term - an indicator of where their most obvious deficiency lies.

Following their goalless draw with Racing in early May, the 2005 winners are yet to win a Libertadores match in Argentina since they went on to lift the trophy some 16 years ago, so the stakes will be high ahead of this opening leg on home soil.

Racing Club's Imanol Segovia celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on 18 May, 2021© Reuters

In that intense encounter at El Cilindro de Avellaneda, Racing dominated the game with their aggressive style as their experienced visitors could not find a way through their relentless pressing tactics, while they sneaked a 1-0 win on their last trip to Morumbi despite having less than a third of the ball.

The club which finished fourth in the Argentinian Apertura in May have not won South America's most prestigious competition since their feted 1967 success, when they went on to be crowned Intercontinental Cup champions after three bitterly contested clashes with Celtic.

Charged with bringing the silverware back to Buenos Aires this year is Crespo's fellow ex-striker, Juan Antonio Pizzi, who has previously managed Valencia and Chile - who he led to the 2016 Copa America trophy.

Since the crushing disappointment of losing 3-0 to Colon in the Apertura final last month, Pizzi's side have not played a senior fixture, so may experience some rustiness on Wednesday, and their upcoming itinerary is action-packed: meeting Velez Sarsfield in the opening game of the Clausura next Sunday, before hosting Sao Paulo three days later.

After leaving Racing for Major League Soccer's Atlanta United in January, fans' favourite Lisandro Lopez has returned to La Academia for the second half of 2021, and will once again don the captain's armband.

Their supporters will undoubtedly hope, then, that the 38-year-old former Porto and Lyon striker's nous and experience could prove the deciding factor in their quest for a second Libertadores title this year - starting with this week's assignment in Brazil.

Sao Paulo Copa Libertadores form:
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • W

Sao Paulo form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • W

Racing Club Copa Libertadores form:
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W

Racing Club form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • L

Team News

Sao Paulo coach Hernan Crespo during the match on May 5, 2021© Reuters

Hernan Crespo will have experienced defender Bruno Alves available after he missed the win over Bahia due to suspension, so the former Portugal international should join Leo and either Robert Arboleda or Miranda - previously of Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan - in Sao Paulo's back three.

Crespo does have a handful of injury concerns ahead of the game, including William da Silva and cruciate ligament victim Walce, but Gabriel Sara returned to the starting XI last time out.

Former Barcelona right-back Dani Alves recently made his much-anticipated comeback from a knee problem which ruled him out of the Copa America and will hope to start in midfield despite missing out completely at the weekend.

Another former Italy-based veteran, ex-Azzurri striker Eder, has only registered one goal in nine league outings to date for the Tricolor, so Pablo could continue up front in Crespo's favoured 3-5-2.

Meanwhile, the visitors' attacking forays are primarily channelled through well-travelled schemer Ignacio Piatti, who adopted club captain Lisandro Lopez's favourite number 15 jersey during the latter's foray into MLS, and the pair are likely to start in Brazil. Another late-thirties forward, Dario Cvitanich, is also a contender to lead the line.

Only teenage full-back Fabian Sanchez - who continues his recovery from an ACL injury - is ruled out for Racing, as coach Juan Antonio Pizzi decides whether to revert to a five-man defence - which he deployed to great effect in the visit to Morumbi in the group phase - or the four-man setup he used during the Apertura playoffs.

Chilean goalkeeper Gabriel Arias has returned from international duty at the Copa America and could start ahead of Gaston Gomez.

Sao Paulo possible starting lineup:
Volpi; Leo, B. Alves, Arboleda; D. Alves, Welington, Liziero, Gomes, Sara; Pablo, Rigoni

Racing Club possible starting lineup:
Arias; Caceres, Sigali, Dominguez, Orban; Miranda, Martinez, Piatti; Copetti, Lopez, Lovera

SM words green background

We say: Sao Paulo 1-1 Racing Club

Seemingly finding their form at just the right time, back-to-back wins can boost Sao Paulo's flagging morale going into their home tie with Racing, and they can pick up a draw which would keep them in contention to progress after next week's second leg.

As the visitors have not played a competitive game for several weeks, their task will be made all the more difficult, though they possess the grit and a dash of flair required to snatch a valuable goal at some stage.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at 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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Santos' Angelo Gabriel celebrates scoring their fifth goal with teammates on May 4, 2021
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