If I was to tell you that this Saturday a Grandpa will fight a lion you would call me crazy.
But that is what will happen in the Northeast of Brazil this weekend, in the latest edition of the Clássico-Rei between Fortaleza and bitter rivals Ceara.
This will be the first league meeting between the two sides since October 2009, when Ceara secured a 1-0 victory, and the first time in 26 years that the Clássico-Rei will be showcased in the top flight of Brazilian football.
Since then things have changed for Ceara, nicknamed Vovô (Grandpa), and Fortaleza, who are referred to as Leao (the lion).
Both sides have been lurking around the second and third tiers of Brazilian football. Just two years ago, while Ceara were celebrating promotion to top-flight, on the other side of the city Fortaleza were promoted from Serie C. Last season they won Serie B securing back-to-back promotions and joining their city rivals in the top flight.
This is thanks to some impressive work by their manager, Rogerio Ceni, who as a player won the Club World Cup with São Paulo, defeating Liverpool in the 2005 final.
— Diário do Nordeste (@diarioonline) August 2, 2019
Although this may be the first meeting in the league for over a decade, the sides have met in various competitions over the years. They face off against each other in the Campeonato Cearense–the Ceara state championship–every year, and occasionally in the Copa Do Nordeste.
Since the last league meeting, the sides have faced each other 34 times with Ceara winning 13, Fortaleza winning 7, and 13 draws.
The last meeting was back in April 2019 when Fortlaleza completed a 3-0 aggregate victory to lift the Campeonato Cearense for the first time since 2016.
On recent league form, Ceara have won only one of their last five compared to Fortaleza who have gone one better by winning two in the same time.
However, Ceara’s victory came against current champions Palmeiras which ended their unbeaten start to the season.
But in derby football, anything can happen, and Saturday’s fixtures will surely be one to look out for.
Players to watch
Thiago Galhardo is a player you want to keep an eye on for Ceara.
He can play as an attacking midfielder or as a forward, and this season he has scored two and created one when playing up top. He’s someone who does not shy away from being involved in attacking play.
He also provides a threat from dead-ball situations, so if there’s a free-kick, don’t be surprised to see him trouble the goalkeeper.
For Fortaleza, the main thing they have to do is something they have not done in their last three matches, and that is not get a player sent off.
The player to watch from Fortaleza is holding midfielder Juninho, who can not only create chances from his position deep in midfield, but can also defend and win the ball back.
If he is on his game he can dictate the play, and he’s been by far the best player for Fortaleza this season.
— Vincent Bevins (@Vinncent) June 17, 2014
The game will be played at Estadio Castello — a stadium built for the world cup back in 2014.
This stunning ground, where both Ceara and Fortaleza play most of their home matches, will be hosting its first league meeting between the two sides, and it will surely be one to watch this weekend.