São Paulo will have the chance to guarantee qualification for the round of 16 of the Copa Sudamericana this Thursday, when they face Everton, in Chile, at 19:15 (GMT), for the fourth round of the group stage.
Achieving this goal would allow coach Rogério Ceni to spare his main players for the remaining two matches and focus on the Brazilian and Copa do Brasil disputes.
For that, however, it is not enough to beat the Chilean team away from home. It will also be necessary to count on a stumble by Ayacucho against Jorge Wilstermann.
Rogério Ceni in training for São Paulo — Photo: Disclosure
With nine points from three games, São Paulo leads Group D – only the best of each group advances. Everton is second with four points, followed by Ayacucho (three) and Jorge Wilstermann (one).
If they win, São Paulo advances to 12 points, which eliminates Everton. If Ayacucho draws with Jorge Wilstermann, the Peruvian team will reach a maximum of 10 points – this game will also be on Thursday, but at 9:30 pm, in Cusco.
It would be the opportunity for Rogério Ceni to rest once and for all his holders in the Sudamericana – the clashes of the round of 16, against the third placed teams of each Libertadores group, will be defined by drawing lots.
The coach has been saving in every game in the tournament. In the debut, against Ayacucho, a few days after the Paulista final, only players who did not play against Palmeiras traveled. In the next two matches, Ceni was part of a mixed team.
He should start a team like that against Everton. Rafinha and Calleri didn’t even travel to Chile. A probable São Paulo has: Tiago Volpi (Thiago Couto), Igor Vinicius, Miranda, Léo and Reinaldo; Luan, Andrés Colorado, Talles Costa and Patrick; Rigoni and Luciano.
The calendar practically imposes this condition on Ceni. After playing in Viña del Mar, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, on Thursday, São Paulo will have to cross the continent to face Fortaleza, on Sunday, at Castelão.
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The schedule foresees Chile’s return shortly after the game. The cast performs again on Friday and, on Saturday afternoon, travels to Ceará.
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— Photo: ge.globo