Spurs' Sandro and Paulinho: Can Pair Recover Brazil Form Ahead of World Cup?

Robbie BlakeleySpecial to Bleacher ReportNovember 26, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24:  Yaya Toure of Manchester City challenges Paulinho of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at Etihad Stadium on November 24, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Whilst Tottenham's mauling at the hands of Manchester City last Sunday is likely to stay etched in the memories of supporters for some time to come, the result was no picnic for Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari either.

On the one hand, Manchester City's Fernandinho put in a disciplined display in midfield, despite managing to kick air when it looked easier to score. The former Shakhtar Donetsk player has been urging Felipao to give him a call-up before time runs out, and his early season form in the Premier League may be tipping the scales in his favour.

But Scolari already has a number of options ahead of Fernandinho in the pecking orderestablished players who may well expect to be part of the World Cup squad next year. The problem is that two, Sandro and Paulinho, who could very well provide the basis for Brazil's central midfield at the World Cup, were on the wrong side of that 6-0 drubbing.

The pair, who could conceivably feature together next summer, took a battering that's potentially difficult to recover from. Does a display as abject as this one damage their credentials ahead of the sport's most important tournament?

They have partnered each other in national colours before, and Sandro is still finding his feet after recovering from a long-term injury.

The 24-year-old suffered cruciate ligament damage against Queens Park Rangers in January and is only now returning to first-team action. He was, however, visibly off the pace on Sunday, stopping to vomit midway through the first half.

Brazil's current line-up in the middle of the park consists of Wolfsburg's Luiz Gustavo and Tottenham's Paulinho.

Having performed admirably together at the Confederations Cup and in subsequent friendlies, they have established themselves in the first XI.

But prior to picking up an injury, Sandro had partnered with Paulinho at international level, leading to excitement in North London that they could be the bedrock of a new-look Tottenham side that would still be able to challenge for top honours following the departure of Gareth Bale.

The two have the perfect platform to develop an understanding that would benefit Brazil hugely next year.

The next international friendly is over three and a half months away at the beginning of March.

Sandro (left) looked off the pace on Sunday
Sandro (left) looked off the pace on SundayJamie McDonald/Getty Images

Expecting players to reconvene for just a few days and understand each others' idiosyncrasies is highly challenging. Sandro and Paulinho can arrive with that development ready made.

Given a season together, they should be able to mould a bountiful union, especially given Sandro's physical advantages over his Wolfsburg rival.

Sandro is bigger, stronger and sturdier in the tackle than Luiz Gustavo. His instinct is to drop back and cover any defensive frailty, operating at times as a third centre-half.

Therefore, he would still afford Paulinho, whose range of passing makes use of having players like Neymar and Bernard with lightning speed on the flanks, the luxury of roaming at will.

Paulinho has made a slow start to life in England, but a period of adjustment is necessary.

Paulinho won national, continental and world titles with Corinthians
Paulinho won national, continental and world titles with CorinthiansKaz Photography/Getty Images

His performances for Brazil are testament to his talents. Sao Paulo giants Corinthians, national, continental and world champions with the 25-year-old in the middle of the park, have fallen into mid-table mediocrity without him.

The club bought Alexandre Pato at the beginning of the year, but without a base line for feeding the attack, he has only managed nine strikes in the Campeonato Brasileiro this term.

Fatigue could be a major part of Paulinho's delayed adaptation. The Brazilian season lasts eleven months rather than Europe's nine.

He also participated in the Confederations Cup in June, meaning he has had little rest in the last twelve months. He is set to be one of the names in Scolari's 23-man squad and would probably benefit from some rest during the season.

Sandro's diagnosis is the polar opposite. Having sat out for over nine months, he needs as much match time as possible to find rhythm and force himself back into Scolari's plans.

The national coach said on Sunday at the unveiling of Brazil's new kit in Rio de Janeiro that players who haven't received a recent call-up should not abandon hope.

That's great news for Sandro, and if his partnership with Paulinho can blossom, it could be great news for Tottenham.

Whether they can form the basis of a World Cup winning team is still to be decided. First, they must get it right at club level. Their past performances tip the balance in their favour.