Fernandinho Form Should Cause Brazil Rethink Ahead of World Cup

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IJanuary 10, 2014


Ordinarily, it would be wise to suggest a player with just five caps to his name at the age of 28—the last of which came almost two years ago—has little chance of making an appearance at a World Cup just a few months away.

For Manchester City's Fernandinho, though, it is perhaps wise to make an exception.

After his Man-of-the-Match performance against Arsenal last month, the Brazilian remained hopeful for a call but realistic regarding his chances. After all, the clock is fast ticking toward the big kick-off in his homeland this summer.

Per Manchester Evening News' Stuart Brennan, he told reporters post-match: 

If the manager watches this game, maybe I can get on his squad list in the future, for the next game. I hope he was watching, because I want a chance to play for the national team.

No-one has spoken to me about Brazil yet, but I hope after this game someone will.

In the game at the Etihad Stadium, the former Shakhtar midfielder was majestic in helping his side to a 6-3 victory that sent out a real message as to the club's title ambitions.

Despite playing in a deep role, the Brazilian got on the scoresheet twice, taking his opportunities with stunning calm on such a high-pressure occasion.

Per Brennan, teammate Samir Nasri was not in doubt about the midfielder's claim for inclusion in the summer, saying of Scolari's decision to omit the midfielder thus far:

I think it is a amistake. I have a great respect for the other Brazilian players but when I look at their squad I think he deserves a place in there.

Sometimes a manager makes choices but it is not finished yet and if he continues to play like this he can be in the squad for the World Cup.

The issue for Fernandinho is that, whatever Nasri may think of his competition, there are outstanding candidates for inclusion in Brazil's midfield.

Chelsea's Ramires has returned from the wilderness to replace Shakhtar's Fernando in the squad, but even he is likely to occupy a reserve role behind anchor Luiz Gustavo and Tottenham dynamo Paulinho.

Hernanes and Lucas Leiva are, at present, the other two contenders for midfield berths, and it is likely one of the duo whom Fernandinho would have to replace.

Logic would suggest it would be Liverpool's Lucas who would have to be replaced, having not had a particularly good season, despite his team's positive showings. However, the belief in Brazil that Fernandinho is not a "primeiro volante," or holding midfielder, could see him competing with Hernanes for the final midfield berth.

Fernandinho was unlucky, though, to fall out of the reckoning under Mano Menezes in the first place, having performed well when given a run of fixtures in late 2011—including a fine showing against Ghana at Craven Cottage.

A combination of his lack of pulling power and the need to try younger options ahead of the Olympic Games saw Fernandinho quickly dispensed with, as had almost become the custom under Menezes.

The 2012-13 season, though, was to be the best of his career as he starred in helping Shakhtar to the knockout rounds of the Champions League alongside fellow Brazilians Willian and Alex Teixeira in particular.

Perhaps aware of his age or having limited time ahead of a World Cup in his homeland, the player pushed for a move away and into the arms of Premier League suitors Manchester City. Already, he is proving to be a great success.

Only Yaya Toure has started more games for City this season, with the duo's partnership already beginning to blossom after a tentative start to the campaign.

SWANSEA, WALES - JANUARY 01:  Manchester City players Fernandinho (l) and Yaya Toure (r) combine to halt Jonathan de Guzman during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Manchester City at Liberty Stadium on January 1, 2014 in Swansea,
Stu Forster/Getty Images

The Brazilian's reassuring presence has allowed Toure to push forward more this campaign, and he has responded with his best ever goalscoring season, hitting double figures in the opening half of the campaign.

While he may not be regarded as a holding midfielder in Brazil and, rather, a box-to-box specialist, he has adapted to the role well.

He is among the best in the Premier League for tackles won and interceptions per game this season, per WhoScored.com, and, somewhat surprisingly, he has fronted up well aerially, winning all but five of his headers thus far.

Add in three goals and two assists and it becomes easy to see why his performances are beginning to generate a buzz to rival that of teammate Toure—only this week elected African Player of the Year 2013 by CAF, per BBC Sport.

There is an argument that playing for a side of City's ilk makes it easier to excel, but Fernandinho has done the hard yards in his time at Shakhtar. There, too, against the odds, he shone on the big European stages.

If Scolari were to pick on form, or indeed on performances over the past two or three seasons, there is no doubt he would be in the selecao squad over Lucas Leiva, for instance. However, international selection is not always so simple.

While he keeps performing as he has this campaign, though, Fernandinho maintains pressure on Felipao. At Manchester City he is now in a prominent position and has a great chance to further press his claims when the side plays Barcelona in the Champions League next month.

Whether he ends up attending the World Cup or not, the Premier League is better with his presence this season, and Manchester City fans have a new hero to take in as one of their own.

Should he maintain form, though, it is nigh on impossible to envisage Scolari ignoring his claims for a place on the squad at the World Cup. He would be, simply, too good to leave out.

There will be some nervous nights ahead for those currently occupying berths in Scolari's chosen squad ahead of the summer, for Fernandinho is coming up quickly on the rails and has the ideal platform to pip his rivals to the line.

A breathless photo finish awaits as time runs out on what could be his last shot at earning a place at a World Cup.

Fernandinho first came to wider prominence as the winning goalscorer in Brazilian success at under-20 level, beating an Andres Iniesta-inspired Spain side in the final. What are the odds for a repeat performance 11 years later at the Maracana this July?


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