SAO PAULOv (AP) — Fluminense has a chance to move closer to its second Brazilian league title in three years with a win at Atletico Mineiro on Sunday.
Even a draw could virtually secure the title for Fluminense, which has a nine-point advantage over Atletico with seven matches left. The victory would give Fluminense a 12-point lead with six games to go in the tournament's final stretch.
The match between the top two teams in the league will take place at the Independencia Stadium in Minas Gerais.
Led by former Brazil striker Fred and ex-Chelsea playmaker Deco, Fluminense is trying to win its fourth national title, and first since 2010.
Ronaldinho's Atletico Mineiro is trying to cut the lead to six points to keep alive its hopes of winning the league title for the first time since 1971.
"It's all or nothing," Atletico Mineiro goalkeeper Victor said. "We'll be playing our main opponent and a victory can cut their lead and give us confidence for the final matches of the competition. It's a crucial game for us."
Fluminense has 69 points from 31 matches, while Atletico Mineiro has 60. Third-place Gremio, which held Fluminense to a 2-2 draw at the Engenhao Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday, has 58 points.
Fluminense coach Abel Braga tried to downplay the importance of the match against his team's main chaser.
"Losing, winning or drawing, the championship won't be decided on Sunday," Braga said. "It won't be this result which will give us the title or take it away from us. We have to think match by match."
Fluminense and Atletico Mineiro drew 0-0 in a controversial match the first time they played in the tournament earlier this year. Fred had a goal mistakenly waved off for offsides in the 88th minute in a game at the Engenhao on July 29. The result allowed Atletico Mineiro, which signed former two-time world player of the year Ronaldinho in the middle of this year, to keep a six-point lead over then third-place Fluminense.
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