Palmeiras aim to keep unbeaten streak alive versus Ceara

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Sao Paulo, Oct 19 (IANS) Palmeiras will try to extend their 14-match unbeaten streak in the Brazilian football league when they host Ceara here on Sunday afternoon.

That contest will be played three days before the Sao Paulo club squares off in the semi-finals of the Copa Libertadores — South America’s premier club football competition — against Argentine-league powerhouse Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires, reports Efe news agency.

Luis Felipe Scolari’s men have not lost in the Brazilian league since falling 1-0 to Rio de Janeiro club Fluminense on July 25 at the Maracana Stadium.

Former head coach Roger Machado was fired after that loss; Scolari took his place and has led Palmeiras to a record of 11 wins, three draws and no losses.

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Palmeiras are in first place with 59 points, three ahead of second-place Internacional with nine matches remaining in the season.

Palmeiras will face a Ceara squad that has come to life just in time and is fighting to escape the four-team relegation zone.

Palmeiras strikers Deyverson and Miguel Borja returned to training on Thursday and will be available to play against Ceara.

Scolari, however, may shake up his line-up with a view to ensuring his top players are rested and healthy for their Copa Libertadores first-leg match on Wednesday at La Bombonera against Boca.

On Monday, Internacional will host seventh-place Santos, who are led by league-leading scorer Gabriel “Gabigol” Barbosa (14 goals).

Third-place Flamengo are also firmly in title contention with 55 points and will visit last placed Parana on Sunday with the objective of picking up three points and potentially narrowing Palmeiras’ lead.

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