JOE's Alternative Match of the Week: Fluminense v Flamengo
When it comes to local rivalries and huge derby games in Brazil, it just doesn't get much bigger than this
Flamengo against Fluminense is a rivalry that is nearly 100 years old, and takes place in what might be the most football mad country in the world, Brazil.
The two teams from Rio de Janeiro always have a feisty encounter when they meet with so much riding on the game in terms of pride for the teams, but there is also a huge amount of passion amongst the fans for this tie, which holds a special place in the history of Brazilian football. It's know as the em>Clássico das Multidões or the Derby of the Masses, and the country more or less comes to a standstill to watch.
This rivalry is no doubt added to by the fact that two teams grew out of one another, when in 1911 a disagreement between players led nine of the Fluminense squad to break off and form Flamengo, and this year's match will take place in the newly renovated Maracana stadium, a sight to behold for any football fan.
Unfortunately, we won't be making it over this year to catch the match first hand ourselves, but watching it will be the next best thing, with an atmosphere that is bound to be electric.
Both teams come in to this game off the back of a draw and with only one win in their last five, but without wanting to resort to cliches, you can probably throw the form book out the window on this one.
Fred of Fluminense will probably be the player that most would be familiar with, and having had a pretty decent Confederations Cup, he'll be hoping that his good run of form will carry into the derby. He is also just one goal away from entering the top ten scorers list for the club, so he will no doubt be giving it everything to get a very famous goal in one of the biggest fixtures of the calendar.
Rafel Sobis (who a few fans of La Liga might remember from a few year ago as a great young talent who never quite made it in Europe) is also part of the squad, as is Deco, who has creativity in spades, in particular in the Brazilian league where he's likely to get more time and space on the ball, and the speed of the game in general is a bit slower. Former Liverpool goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri is the number one for Fluminense, and although he didn't train yesterday, they are still hopeful he can start.
Mano Menezes, former Brazil boss, will be a relatively new face on the bench fro Flamengo, and he will look to move them back up the table, having taken over when they were languishing in 14th place in June. They're still only in 13th place however, so there's plenty of work to do. Andre Santos will be another familiar name to those watching from this part of the world, whose career at Arsenal didn't exactly get off to a blistering start...or any start for that matter.
In preparation for this game, Menezes had his team do just one hour of training yesterday, and shrouded his first XI in mystery. That said, Santos should start, captain Leo Moura will also feature, Diego Silva and Elias, the latter of the national side, will be part of the midfield, and Nixon and Hernane are expected to start up front.
Fluminense are evens to take the win this weekend, and if you're having a flutter, they've scored in every home match they've had so far this season, and they're at home for this clash. Couple that with the fact that Fred is chasing a record, and there cold be a bet that might get you some return in there somewhere. While a win for Fluminense may well be the outcome, we don't fancy chancing our arm on a prediction, so on a relaxed Sunday evening we'd rather just sit back with a chilled beverage and enjoy one of the great spectacles of world football.
The game kicks off at 8pm our time, and should be able to be found somewhere on line to watch.