Fernandão arrived last week at São Paulo to be the the target man in the team's offense after Washington had a disagreement with manager Ricardo Gomes. “Fernandão came to be in the starting line-up” declared Gomes in a press conference.
The 32-year old striker made his debut tonight against Cruzeiro in Belo Horizonte and did live up to Gomes's expectations. He was crucial in the team's two goals that gave São Paulo the advantage for the second match next week.
In fact São Paulo's strategy is not based on the offensive side but in playing as a strong defensive group and moving the ball fast to the wings in counter-attack. It worked tonight.
At the 23rd minute Fernandão participated in the play that originated Dagoberto's opening goal. São Paulo then was able to place the whole team behind the ball, defending as a group, with intelligence and efficiency. The “Tricolor” (as São Paulo is commonly called) stood strong when Cruzeiro pressured and at the 65th minute Fernandão gave a beautiful heel pass to Hernanes who perfectly placed the ball out of reach of Cruzeiro's goalkeeper Fábio.
In a competition as tough as the Libertadores, I take the risk to say that São Paulo has an 85 percent chance to guarantee their berth in the cup's semifinal next week when they'll play Cruzeiro again at home. Football is an unpredictable game indeed but taking into consideration that São Paulo has probably the strongest defense in the competition, having allowed only two goals in the tournament, and that Cruzeiro's has major problems connecting the midfield to the offense I don't see any surprises coming next week.
Cruzeiro 0 - 2 São Paulo
Goals: Dagoberto 23', Henanes 65' (both for São Paulo)