Fernandinho Given Late Chance to Shine for Brazil Before World Cup

Robbie BlakeleySpecial to Bleacher ReportFebruary 18, 2014

Manchester City's Fernandinho, right, is congratulated by teammate Yaya Toure after his second goal against Arsenal during their English Premier League soccer match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England, Saturday Dec. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super/Associated Press

Fernandinho has been given the chance to prove himself at international level before the World Cup after receiving a call-up for Brazil's friendly with South Africa on March 5.

His form this season, since a transfer from the relative backwaters of Shakhtar Donetsk to a genuine Premier League title contender in Manchester City, has been almost effortless and understated.

Sitting alongside Yaya Toure in the Manchester City midfield, the 28-year-old has helped form one of the competition's most dynamic and dangerous duos in Europe.

Comfortable either sitting forward or playing in a slightly more advanced role, his statistics this season help explain his success in English football.

With three goals, three assists and a pass completion rate of 87.3 percent, according to WhoScored, his usefulness to the cause cannot be taken for granted.

A player given a chance under Mano Menezes but subsequently overlooked by Luiz Felipe Scolari in his rebuilding process, Fernandinho thanked Manchester City for the part they have played in him earning another international invite.

Speaking to Brazilian sports website Gazeta Esportiva, Fernandinho said that one of the main reasons he joined Manchester City was to improve his chances of making the Brazil squad.

With a call-up so close to the final decision on a squad of May 7, Fernandinho has caught Felipao's eye at the right time. But at this late stage, form at club level will be of equal importance to his cause.

Having suffered a thigh injury and missed his side's last three games, there are whispers of possible involvement tonight in one of Manchester City's biggest ever matches; a UEFA Champions League tie against Barcelona.

According to the Daily Telegraph's Mark Ogden, the Brazilian midfielder could play some part tonight if he can overcome a fitness test.

His worth to the team has been highlighted in his enforced absence. Missing from his side's 1-0 defeat to Chelsea, Martin Demichelis was deployed in the holding midfield berth.

Fernandinho has caught Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari's eye at the right time.
Fernandinho has caught Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari's eye at the right time.Elsa/Getty Images

The Argentine may have sound defensive awareness, but he lacks the pace, drive and capability to launch a counter-attack in the blink of the eye that has proven one of Fernandinho's trademarks during his debut term in England.

Of the three games Fernandinho has sat out, City have won just one, last weekend's 2-0 FA Cup triumph over Chelsea.

In a few short months he has become a fundamental rock of the Etihad Stadium foundations. Now Scolari has given him that same opportunity in national colours.

He could happily play either midfield role for Brazil; that of Wolfsburg enforcer Luiz Gustavo, sitting in front of the back four, or Paulinho's current function of box-to-box midfielder.

Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho are currently Brazil's midfield pairing.
Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho are currently Brazil's midfield pairing.Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

And he has form at international level. In 2003, whilst still at Brazilian club Atletico Paranaense, Fernandinho netted the winning goal against Spain in the final of the U-20 World Cup.

That Brazilian side counted on the likes of goalkeeper Jefferson, Barcelona's Daniel Alves and former Internazionale front man Adriano, whilst a certain Andres Iniesta was in the middle for Spain.

Having come on as a substitute in the 70th-minute he played on the right-hand side of a 4-4-2. At Shakhtar he was used in a variety of positions across midfield, and his versatility could be a major asset to Brazil this summer.

The friendly against South Africa is very much a first and last chance for Fernandinho in relation to the World Cup. A first call-up under Scolari and a last international before May 7.

Yesterday, Fernandinho spoke to Brazilian site Globo Esporte of the desire to grab his opportunity, describing it as his last and only chance to press his claims for a spot in the World Cup squad.

A shining display against South Africa and continued distinction in Manchester may just prove his point.