Palmeiras looking to strengthen grip on first place in Brazilian league

EFE

Palmeiras will be looking to tighten its stranglehold on first place in the Brazilian soccer league when it takes on lowly Parana in a late-season clash on Sunday.

After routing Fluminense 3-0 at home on Wednesday to extend their unbeaten streak in the Brasileirao to 19 games, the Verdao (70 points) will travel to the southern city of Londrina to take on a last-placed club that has just 21 points with four games remaining and already is assured of relegation.

Palmeiras has a five-point lead over second-placed Internacional (65 points), which defeated America Mineiro 2-0 on Thursday to ensure that the Sao Paulo club cannot clinch the Brazilian-league title this weekend.

Palmeiras has announced that it will make new changes to its frequently shifting starting line-up for its Matchday 35 of 38 contest against Parana, with defenders Marcos Rocha, Jean, Edu Dracena and Antonio Carlos, midfielder Felipe Melo and forward Deyverson among the candidates to take the field at the outset of Saturday's match.

Players who started on Wednesday but could be out of the starting 11 on Sunday include defenders Mayke, Gustavo Gomez, Diogo Barbosa and Luan, midfielder Thiago Santos and striker Miguel Borja.

Internacional will have to play against Botafogo on Sunday without defender Fabiano, who has been suspended due to an excessive number of yellow cards and will be replaced by Zeca.

In other action, third-placed Flamengo (63 points) could be forced to play without injured Colombian striker Fernando Uribe against Sport Recife. The Colombian has been experiencing pain in his right thigh and may sit out pending the results of a medical evaluation.

Gremio (59 points), which came up just short of reaching the Copa Libertadores final this year, will be seeking a win over Chapecoense on Sunday as it continues its battle for one of four direct spots in next year's edition of South America's premier club competition.

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