Preview: Atletico Junior vs. Fluminense - prediction, team news, lineups
:Headline: Preview: Atletico Junior vs. Fluminense - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's Copa Libertadores clash between Atletico Junior and Fluminense, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Brazilian outfit Fluminense travel to Colombia where they will face Atletico Junior on Thursday in gameweek three of the Copa Libertadores.
The hosts will be looking for their first victory in this season's tournament but their visitors have made a strong start to Group D having not tasted defeat in their opening two fixtures.
Junior finished the Primera A season in seventh place which saw them qualify for the championship's playoffs, when they faced Santa Fe in the two-legged quarter-final tie.
Santa Fe finished the league season in second place and four points ahead of Junior, but despite that Luis Perea's side recorded an emphatic 3-1 victory at the Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Melendez in the first leg of the tie.
With a comfortable margin between the two sides, Junior managed to complete the quarter-final victory last time out with a 0-0 draw against Harold Rivera's side, setting up semi-final fixtures with Millonarios and those ties will be played on May 9 and May 16.
Junior's start to Group D in the Copa Libertadores has left the Colombian side with ground to make up to catch the top two, after a 1-1 draw with Santa Fe in the opening round of fixtures and a 2-1 defeat to River Plate in gameweek two.
The defeat to River Plate means that Perea's side are currently three points behind joint-leaders Fluminense and the Argentinian outfit, making Thursday's clash close to a must-win in order for Junior to keep first place in their sights.
Fluminense have recorded more positive results in recent weeks and a crucial one came last time out when they drew with third-placed Portuguesa, which resulted in Roger Machado's side staying second in the Carioca 1, having already qualified for the next stage in the league season.
Uruguayan forward Abel Hernandez, who was bought for £2.1m from Internacional in April, converted a 56th-minute penalty for Fluminense in that game after Chayene gave the hosts a 15th-minute lead from the 12-yard spot.
Veteran striker Fred was Fluminense's talisman last time out in the Copa Libertadores as his brace was enough to beat Santa Fe, but that game saw full-back Egidio sent off for two bookable offences and he will serve that suspension in the clash with Junior on Thursday.
Fluminense reached the Copa Libertadores final in 2008 but were defeated by Ecuadorian side Quito, however they will be looking to become the next Brazilian side to win the tournament after this trophy has gone back to Brazil for the last two consecutive seasons.
Atletico Junior Copa Libertadores form:
Atletico Junior form (all competitions):
Fluminense Copa Libertadores form:
Fluminense form (all competitions):
Atletico Junior's line is expected to be led by top goalscorer Miguel Borja, who has eight goals in 14 appearances for his side this season.
Larry Vasquez and Didier Moreno are Perea's trusted midfield partnership with the pair both into their second season at the Colombian club.
Experienced Junior goalkeeper Sebastian Viera remarkably has two goals to his name this season but will be more focused on keeping out Fluminense, who have scored at least one goal in their last 12 games.
As for Fluminense, defender Egidio will serve his suspension in this game for his double yellow cards against Santa Fe and 29-year-old Danilo could come into the side at left-back in Egidio's absence.
With three goals already to his name in this season's Copa Libertadores, 37-year-old Fred is expected to lead the line again for Fluminense, who will be aiming to go six points clear of Junior with a victory on Thursday.
Atletico Junior possible starting lineup:
Viera; Fuentes, Ditta, Rosero, Viafara; Vasquez, Moreno; Hinestroza, Gonzalez, Pajoy; Borja
Fluminense possible starting lineup:
Marcos Felipe; Danilo, Claro, Nino, Calegari; Yago Felipe, Martinelli; Henrique, Nene, Kayky; Fred
We say: Atletico Junior 0-2 Fluminense
Fluminense are unbeaten in their last eight matches and we expect that run to continue on Thursday with victory over Atletico Junior as Machado's side should be full of confidence from their recent form.
Junior are in need of a victory in Group D of the Copa Libertadores but if Perea's side attack the game they may leave space in behind for their visitors to capitalise on.
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