Preview: Athletico Paranaense vs. Criciuma – prediction, team news, lineups – Football News

Preview: Athletico Paranaense vs. Criciuma – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday’s Brasileiro clash between Athletico Paranaense and Criciuma, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

On the back of a dampening three-game losing run, Athletico Paranaense aim to rectify their recent mistakes at home to bottom-half Brasileiro side Criciuma on Thursday.

Cuca‘s men have had over a week to dissect a 1-0 loss to Fortaleza, while their visitors were thumped 5-2 by a hitherto scoreless and winless Cuiaba outfit.

Match preview

Sassy Atletico Mineiro boss Cuca on October 1, 2022© Reuters

Formerly leading the way in the early-season Brasileiro rankings, Paranaense switched their focus to Copa Sudamericana duty for the second half of May, but back-to-back home defeats in their section forced them to settle for a runners-up finish in Group E.

As a result, Cuca’s troops must come through a two-legged affair with Cerro Porteno – dropping down from the Copa Libertadores – just to progress to the last 16, and their unsuccessful continental endeavours appeared to have taken its toll on them on June 2.

Indeed, Paranaense had taken 10 points from their previous 12 on offer in the top flight before pitting their wits against Fortaleza, where a Benjamin Kuscevic header on the stroke of half time was enough to condemn Cuca’s side to their third loss on the bounce.

The hosts’ recent setback has seen them plummet to fifth place in the standings – outside the Copa Libertadores group spots – but such is the tight nature of the early-season table that leaders Flamengo are just one point better off than Cuca’s outfit.

Furthermore, Paranaense have a magnificent streak of Brasileiro home form to fall back on this week, having triumphed in each of their last four top-flight contests on familiar turf without conceding, while going unbeaten in 18 since going down to Gremio in May 2023.

Athletico Paranaense's Vitor Roque celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on June 21, 2023© Reuters

As such, Criciuma have their work well and truly cut out to earn a result at the Ligga Arena, especially after shipping five goals to a Cuiaba side who had failed to win or indeed score in each of their first six matches of the 2024 Brasileiro campaign.

The Tiger showed some bite to cut the arrears down to 2-4 after conceding four times in the opening 46 minutes, but Matheusinho and Tobias Figueiredo‘s efforts would prove to be scant consolation as a rampant Cuiaba restored a three-goal margin deep into injury time.

While Paranaense’s losing run across all tournaments reads three matches, Thursday’s visitors – promoted to the top flight for the 2024 season – have now suffered defeat in four straight games, also falling to Palmeiras’ superiority either side of a pair of Copa do Brasil losses to Bahia.

However, thanks to taking five points from their opening three contests of the new term, Claudio Tencati‘s side are just about clear of danger for now, sitting 16th in the 20-team rankings and above Corinthians in the drop zone on account of a superior goal difference.

A dissatisfactory result at the Ligga Arena could plunge the Tiger into the demotion zone, though, and only three of their previous 13 meetings with Athletico Paranaense have ended in victory, losing each of their last three without managing a single goal.

Athletico Paranaense Brasileiro form:

Athletico Paranaense form (all competitions):

Criciuma Brasileiro form:

Criciuma form (all competitions):

Team News

Athletico Paranaense's Romulo celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on May 24, 2023© Reuters

Paranaense’s veteran midfielder Fernandinho – still kicking at the age of 39 – is now back in the matchday ranks after missing the Fortaleza loss through suspension, while Lucas Esquivel would be in the same boat but is on international duty with Argentina’s Under-23s anyway.

The latter is one of three Paranaense players away with their national teams, as winger Agustin Canobbio is with Uruguay’s Copa America squad, while goalkeeper Bento – believed to be on the radar of Premier League giants Liverpool – will represent Brazil at the continental tournament.

Twenty-three-year-old Leo Linck should be the man to fill in for Bento as Paranaense’s last line of defence, but Cuca does not have a single injury concern to factor into his preparations for Thursday.

Regarding Criciuma’s availability, left-back Miguel Trauco is serving a suspension this week, having been on the pitch for just 13 minutes against Cuiaba before seeing red for violent conduct. To add insult to injury, the 31-year-old was not selected for Peru’s Copa America squad either.

However, fellow defender Wilker Angel was summoned to represent Venezuela and is therefore absent from the Tiger ranks too, while Felipe Vizeu (thigh) and Fellipe Mateus (knee) are both in the care of the doctors.

Right-back Claudinho was fine to take on Cuiaba after a scare against Palmeiras, but he was one of three players hooked before the break in a triple tactical change from Tencati and is therefore at risk of losing his starting berth.

Athletico Paranaense possible starting lineup:
Linck; Madson, Rocha, Heleno, Fernando; Fernandinho, Erick; Nikao, Christian, Zapelli; Pablo

Criciuma possible starting lineup:
Gustavo; Jonathan, Rodrigo, Figueiredo, Hermes; Caike, Ronald, Barreto, Matheusinho; Bolasie, Eder

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We say: Athletico Paranaense 3-0 Criciuma

Conceding five goals to a team that had not even registered once in their first six 2024 league matches is surely a harbinger of doom for Criciuma against a Paranaense side needing to right a few wrongs on Thursday.

The hosts may have lost a couple of key players to Copa America call-ups, but as Cuca’s men almost always produce the goods at home, they ought to have no trouble pulling themselves out of their rut and prolonging Criciuma’s dismal sequence.

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

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