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Manchester City's Fernandinho Could Perform Brazil World Cup Roles at Club Level

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 28:  Charles Aranguiz of Chile controls the ball as Fernandinho of Brazil fights of Felipe Gutierrez during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil round of 16 match between Brazil and Chile at Estadio Mineirao on June 28, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Mark JonesFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2014

Maybe referee Howard Webb employed a little Premier League understanding, but just how Manchester City's Fernandinho managed to make it through 72 minutes of Brazil's game with Chile on Saturday without being booked is one of the great mysteries of this World Cup.

It was at that stage that the 29-year-old trotted off the pitch to be replaced by Chelsea's Ramireshis race run, his numerous midfield battles won, and his stud marks imprinted on pretty much every blade of grass in Belo Horizonte.

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - JUNE 23:  Fernandinho of Brazil celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group A match between Cameroon and Brazil at Estadio Nacional on June 23, 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil.  (Photo by Buda Mendes/G
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Fernandinho—preferred to the Tottenham midfielder Paulinho in the team following a week-long campaign to pick him—didn't disappoint as his country stared at the brink of expulsion from their own party only to scrape through in the most dramatic of penalty shootouts.

Their dream is still alive but is now put in danger by a meeting with a vibrant Colombia in Fortaleza on Friday night, a match in which Fernandinho is likely to assume an even greater level of importance.

Because whilst he might not have been booked by Webb against Chile, fellow midfielder Luiz Gustavo was, as the Wolfsburg man picked up his second yellow card of the competition to go along with one against Croatia on the opening night.

That means a suspension, with Ramires or Paulinho likely to come in for him against the impressive Colombians as Fernandinho moves further back to accommodate one of them.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 28: Juan Guillermo Cuadrado of Colombia celebrates his team's second goal scored by James Rodriguez (L) during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at Maracana on June 28, 2014 in Rio
Clive Rose/Getty Images

The City man will have to come up against one of the stars of the tournament in James Rodriguez if stationed in that position whilst he'll also need to track the runs of perhaps one of the World Cup's most underrated performers in Juan Cuadrado.

Of course, it isn't a role that is too alien to Fernandinho given that he was deployed in it throughout his first season in English football with City, but having displayed his all-action style against the Chileans, he is perhaps going to find it tough to rein in those instincts in a match that has the potential to be one of the best of what is already a classic tournament.

City's signing of Fernandinho's compatriot and almost namesake Fernando from Porto last week means those spots in the more attacking midfield roles could be up for grabs for the former Shakhtar Donetsk man in the coming campaign.

MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 11:  Fernando Reges (L) of FC Porto competes for the ball with Oliver Torres (R) of Atletico de Madrid during the UEFA Champions League Group G match at Vicente Calderon Stadium on December 11, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Go
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Fernando is an out-and-out defensive midfielder, one dubbed "The Octopus" in Portugal, per FIFA.com, because of his leggy style. Octopuses can't run, obviously, but you get the sentiment.

Having a specialist in that position will allow Fernandinho to alternate between his two important but ultimately very different roles. You might see him stationed in the deeper position when City face a home Premier League clash that they'd expect to win one weekend only to be moved further forward for a tricky away Champions League fixture days later.

He's likely to accept the challenges posed by both positions, just as he will for Brazil during what is now a fortnight which could make him an immortal in the eyes of his country.

He'll have to be the Luiz Gustavo, the Fernando, "The Octopus" against Colombia—the World Cup's first one of those since the psychic Paul four years ago—but then if Brazil go through, he is likely to need to revert back to the player we saw in the Chile game.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 14:  Fernandinho of Manchester City celebrates scoring their fifth goal past Wojciech Szczesny of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at Etihad Stadium on December 14, 2013 in
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

With uncertainty over Yaya Toure's Manchester City future and the very fact that age will eventually catch up with a 31-year-old who never shone at the World Cup (although the tragic death of brother Ibrahim is perhaps partly responsible for that), Fernandinho could step up to the plate in the new campaign and become the more well-rounded player that we saw glimpses of in his first season.

Prior to that, he scored 53 goals in eight years in Donetsknot a bad record, and not one you'd have expected given how he largely played in his first season at City, when he did at least register five Premier League goals.

That total could conceivably double in the new campaign if he is encouraged to get forward by the arrival of Fernando.

First up comes Brazil, though, a move back to a deeper position and a huge level of importance heaped upon an admirable and gifted footballer.

Webb might not be there to save him from a booking against Colombia, but once again Fernandinho is likely to take it all in his stride.

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