OLIMPICO MONUMENTAL, PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL - Two teams in contention to cement Copa Libertadores places meet in the Brazil Campeonato on Sunday when Gremio host Sao Paulo at Olimpico Monumental in Porto Alegre (KO 19:00 GMT).
Vanderlei Luxemburgo's men go into the final stages of the Brasileirao in third place with just four games left to play, while the visitors are hot on their heels just four points behind in fourth.
A cursory look at the form and just two defeats from 17 Serie A home fixtures and Imortal would be the pick, but Ney Franco's men have timed their run to the end-of-season climax to perfection and in midweek booked a Copa Sudamericana semi-finals place following a crushing 5-0 victory over Universidad de Chile.
Much of the build-up to this game from a Gremio perspective has been dominated by the future of coach Luxemburgo, whose future in in Porto Alegre remains in doubt.
The club's incoming director of football, Rui Costa, revealed officials had been unable to pin Luxemburgo down to a new contract and that talks were now postponed.
He said: "We have total respect for the fans and their desires. However, we must be cautious, we cannot be irreponsible.
"We have a number of issues to discuss. Vanderlei knows what is required in football."
It was also revealed that the former Arsenal midfielder, Gilberto Silva, has signed a pre-contract with his first club Atletico Mineiro.
The 36-year-old former Brazil international joined Gremio from Greek side Panathinaikos but has not played in the Brasileirao since the middle of October because of injuries.
Luxemburgo revealed: "You have players who will be players and who will not stay. Gilberto Silva called me and said he accepted the proposal and would like to play for Atletico-MG. This is nothing abnormal, it is customary to make a pre-contract."
Gremio have not lost to Sao Paulo at home in five seasons and beat Sunday's opponents 2-1 at Morumbi on August 12 with a stoppage-time winner from substitute Andre Lima.
Victory on Sunday and they could also overtake Atletico Mineiro, subject to their result away to Vasco da Gama at Sao Januario.
Luis Fabiano scored in the 5-0 rout over the Chilean side in midweek and the former Brazil striker, who turned 32 this week and is now well into double figures for the season, insists Franco's men will not be easing down.
"The fans sense that our time is coming," he told Lancenet. "At the beginning, we suffered a lot. We lost championships, but everything is moving towards a happy ending.
"We have been working on becoming more fluid, to get better and to correct our mistakes. Everything is going in our favour, the timing is very good."
Lucas Moura, another midweek goalscorer and who will leave for French powerhouses Paris Saint-Germain in January, has reiterated his desire to win some silverware with Tricolor Paulista before he heads to Europe.
He said: "With each passing day, my heart beats faster. I know I will miss a lot of things so every game for me is like a final.
"I want to win, starting with the title, and I'm going to run twice as fast to make it happen."
Osvaldo will return from a thigh problem for the trip to Porto Alegre but defender Paulo Miranda is carrying a knee injury and is a doubt, while midfielder Wellington is suspended.
"It's a game where you will define whether we will fight for the second place or hold a position that leads us to the pre-Libertadores. Will be a complicated match because Gremio has a very competitive team, "said goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni, who this week renewed his contract with the club.
A solid way in here would be to take the 5/6 with BetVictor in the Gremio to score first market, which they have done in over 70 per cent of home games. This is backed up the stat which indicates Sao Paulo have conceded first in 11 out of 17 road trips. The 6/5 quoted by Bwin about highest scoring half-second half should not be scoffed at given that Gremio have scored over 64 per cent of goals at home after the restart.
For punters who like the short stuff Over 1.5 goals would have landed in over 70 per cent of Gremio home games and the same outcome is quoted 2/7 by bet365.
Sportingbet is offering 13/20 about Sao Paulo-draw in the double chance market and Paddy Power is quoting 13/8 Sao Paulo draw no bet, but the fact that they have won less than a third of away games in the Brasileirao makes this a concern.
With this in mind, the Gremio win and Over 2.5 goals looks appealing at 12/5 with Bwin.
Referee: Wilson Pereira Sampaio
Sunday's other Brazil Campeonato fixtures:
19:00 GMT CR Vasco da Gama v Atletico MG - Sao Januario
19:00 GMT Palmeiras v Fluminense FC - Paulo Machado de Carvalho
21:30 GMT AA Ponte Preta v Internacional - Moises Lucarelli
21:30 GMT Cruzeiro v Bahia - Arena do Jacare
21:30 GMT Figueirense FC v Sport - Orlando Scarpelli
21:30 GMT Nautico v Flamengo - Eladio de Barros Carvalho