World Football

Premier League Brazilians: How They Fared on Opening Day

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 19:  Coutinho of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal with team-mate Lucas (l) during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Queens Park Rangers at Anfield on May 19, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images
Callum FoxContributor IIIAugust 20, 2013

The opening day of the 2013-14 Premier League season saw Brazilians old and new take to freshly cut pitches up and down the country helping their sides get off to the best possible starts.

We pick out those who stood out for their clubs and those who didn't, analysing their roles in their teams and how they contributed to their sides' results.

This isn't a definitive list of the best and worst performers, but rather a look at the performances of interest during the Premier League's opening weekend.

Despite the arrival of several big-name Brazilians, it was the Premier League's old guard that provided the talking points of the weekend.

 

Lucas Leiva

Lucas was named in Brendan Rodgers' starting lineup in their 1-0 win over Stoke City, thanks to a superb long-range effort from Daniel Sturridge and a penalty save from Simon Mignolet.

The Brazilian midfielder was deployed in a double pivot alongside Reds captain Steven Gerrard, operating behind the attacking trio of Philippe Coutinho, Iago Aspas and Jordan Henderson. 

As usual, Lucas' role was to operate as a defensive screen in addition to providing an outlet for passes in the midfield third.

The former Gremio star played the latter role effectively, completing 86 percent of his passes, according to Squawka. But there were concerns over his defensive ability.

Lucas was considered too aggressive in his pressuring last season, allowing opposing attackers to exploit the space left behind by the Brazilian, and that habit continued in the first game of the new season.

Despite winning six of his eight attempted tackles, again according to Squawka, the ones Lucas misses can easily allow the opposition to drive straight towards the fragile Liverpool defence.

It was a mixed game for the Brazilian, and one that should give Rodgers cause for concern as Liverpool look to establish their top-six credentials.

 

Fernandinho

Fernandinho made his Premier League debut in Manchester City's 4-0 win over Newcastle United, and the Brazilian set about justifying his enormous €40 million transfer fee.

Slotting in beside Yaya Toure in a double pivot, Fernandinho had an understated debut but showed flashes of his ability throughout the game.

The two holding midfielders took it in turns to venture forward, combining with City's plethora of attacking talent, such as David Silva, Jesus Navas, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko.

Toure may have taken the plaudits with a sensational free-kick, but the former Shakhtar Donetsk man was very comfortable in possession, completing a superb 89 percent of his passes.

Fernandinho was booked early on for a rash challenge on Yoan Gouffran, but otherwise the Brazilian was composed, always offering outlets for passes. 

However, tougher tests of the midfielder's abilities will come as a Newcastle side without the services of Yohan Cabaye failed to pose a threat to the Citizens.

 

Oscar

New Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho kept faith with Oscar for their 2-0 win over Hull City, with the Brazilian retaining his place while Juan Mata dropped to the bench.

Playing behind Fernando Torres, Oscar scored Chelsea's second of the afternoon, latching on to Kevin de Bruyne's deft pass and toe-poking it through the advancing goalkeeper's legs.

With Eden Hazard and De Bruyne on the flanks and Frank Lampard and Ramires in midfield behind him, Oscar was effectively the creative hub of the side.

Oscar went on to play a pivotal role in the win, completing three key passes with an overall 81-percent pass completion, second only to Hazard, according to Squawka.

B/R's Joe Krishnan was also effusive in his praise of the Brazilian, citing him as the key man in Mourinho's first Premier League win since his return to the Blues.

With a stellar performance under his belt, it will be hoped that Oscar can build on his superb first season with Chelsea and establish himself as a key player over the coming season.

 

Philippe Coutinho

Coutinho played alongside fellow compatriot Lucas Leiva in Liverpool's 1-0 win over Stoke City in the opening game of the 2013-14 Premier League season.

With Brendan Rodgers experimenting in the absence of the suspended Luis Suarez, Coutinho was placed out on the left side of the attack with license to roam inside and create.

Coutinho used the width provided by Jose Enrique to great effect to roam in front of the Stoke defence, taking advantage of the space left behind by his fellow attackers to thread several killer through balls.

The Brazilian may not have emerged from the game with an assist to his name, mainly due to some profligacy on Liverpool's part, but he received huge praise for his work in the final third.

According to Liverpool's team website, former Reds midfielder Danny Murphy was one such admirer:

Coutinho's end product was what impressed me [against Stoke]. He got in the right positions, his passes were correct, he made the right choices, and he threatened the goal.

If Coutinho keeps up this form, he will be key to Liverpool's hope of gatecrashing the top four over the coming season.

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices