Sports Mole previews Monday’s Primeira Liga clash between Maritimo and Santa Clara, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The visitors, on the other hand, are unbeaten in their last three league outings and will be in a confident mood ahead of this one.
Os Verde-Rubros are currently 11th in the league standings after picking up 17 points from their opening 17 games of the season.
Despite their mid-table status, Maritimo are only three points above Boavista, who occupy the relegation playoff place.
The tight and congested nature of the Primeira Liga is making for an exciting campaign in Portugal, but Mendes will be keen for his side to avoid a relegation battle.
Three points on Monday could see the Estadio do Maritimo outfit start to pull away from the bottom three, and they will be desperate to do exactly that.
Santa Clara will be tricky opponents, though, as a 1-1 draw with Farense last time out extended their unbeaten run in the league to three games.
That result kept Daniel Ramos‘ men in seventh place in the top flight, although the gap to the European qualification places may prove too big for them to close.
Brazilian striker Thiago Santana was pivotal for Os Acoreanos in the first half of the campaign, bagging seven goals in his nine appearances.
The Estadio de Sao Miguel outfit initially struggled to cope with his January departure, but their recent performances have been much improved and will have given Ramos hope that his side can go on to have a successful 2020-21 campaign.
Maritimo Primeira Liga form: DLWLLL
Maritimo form (all competitions): WWLLLL
Santa Clara Primeira Liga form: DDLWWD
Santa Clara form (all competitions): WLWLWD
Mendes has the luxury of a full-fit squad to choose from for this one and is likely to recall top scorer Rodrigo Pinho to the starting XI after the 29-year-old missed the 2-0 defeat to Sporting Lisbon through injury.
Maritimo recently signed Sassa on loan in January from Brazilian outfit Cruzeiro, with the South American adding a much-needed option in attack for Os Verde-Rubros.
Santa Clara will be without centre-back Cristian Gonzalez with the 24-year-old defender once again ruled out through injury.
He will be joined on the sidelines by defensive midfielder Julio Romao who is nursing a knee injury.
Maritimo possible starting lineup:
Abedzadeh; Santos, Africo, Andrade; Macedo, Bambock, Jean, Hermes; Guitane; Sassa, Joel
Santa Clara possible starting lineup:
Marco; Mansur, Villanueva, Cardoso, Ramos; Salomao, Morita, Carvalho; Lincoln, Crysan, Carlos
We say: Maritimo 1-2 Santa Clara
These are two teams in contrasting form, and we fancy this encounter to reflect their recent results. Santa Clara have finally adapted to life without Santana, and they should pick up another three points on Monday.
Top betting tip
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