Two teams battling for a spot in the top six of the league do battle on Saturday evening as Bahia host Internacional in what is expected to be the most entertaining match of the weekend. Which team will be able to earn the victory to keep pace with Sao Paulo for the all-important fourth place spot in the league?
I think at times bettors lose scope on how large Brazil is. Despite these two teams playing in the same league and country, this domestic league match features an extreme travel situation.
Internacional must make the trek from Porto Alegre to Salvador, a full 3,500km and five hours in flight. The humidity becomes a significant issue to deal with as well. At more than 80% at kickoff forecasted, Internacional must deal with the unique conditions that come with playing just a few hundred meters from the ocean.
Preparation for this match is going to be challenging for managers Odair Hellmann and Roger Machado because both teams play a very similar style.
In terms of play build-up, both teams prefer to play up the wings with an equal 74% of possessions played up the left or right side each. Once established in the attacking zone, it becomes about working the ball back to the middle and getting shot attempts on target. Both teams put over 60% of their shot attempts on goal from the middle third of the pitch.
Internacional has a bit more pace in possession while Bahia relies on the success of aerial duels. But in terms of goal expectancy, shot attempts per match, passing success rate and overall rating, these two teams are dead equal in every category.
The first meeting in June shows a 3-1 scoreline for Internacional, but Bahia outshot and spent more time in the attacking third than Internacional. Bahia played in Salvador last weekend and will have extra preparation time without the need to return from an away match. Knowing the opponent well should benefit Machado in round two.
Bahia has played up to their competition in Salvador all season. The resume of victories has been extremely impressive. Tricolor has earned points at home against Sao Paulo (4th), Atletico-PR (9th), Flamengo (1st), Corinthians (5th). This aligns well with the struggles away from Porto Alegre for Internacional.
Surprisingly, Internacional has lost eight matches away this season and failed to earn three points against CSA (18th), Cruzeiro (17th), Goias (10th), Fluminense (16th), Vasco (11th) and Chapecoense (19th). It is difficult not to wonder how much the team was looking ahead to this match losing at home last weekend to Vasco for the second time this season.
What is the market situation?
It is quite easy to make the argument that the price on Bahia presents excellent value. From a statistics viewpoint, both of these clubs are incredibly even. Neither side has an advantage in any meaningful category.
When comparing play on the field, Bahia already outplayed Internacional in their early meeting, despite the unfavourable result. The travel situation works against Internacional as do their home and away performance splits.
Combining everything, the opening price of 2.52, which implies a 39% win probability appears low. With a low variance match anticipated, bettors would be wise to seek a price on the +0 handicap with the home side.