Sparkling form for Manchester City has pushed Fernandinho back into contention for a starting role for Brazil, but will a stubborn Tite change his plans?
Fernandinho suffered an awful lot of criticism following his horrendous performance in Brazil’s nightmare defeat against Germany, in the semi-final phase of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. To be fair, the central midfielder did have a catastrophic display and was directly responsible for conceding two goals. The fans have had a sort of veto on the Manchester City-man for a while, but is it time to acknowledge that the 33-year-old has earned the right to another opportunity?
There aren’t many teams in England that Fernandinho would not walk his way into. In fact, he has arguably been the best defensive midfielder in the Premier League this season. Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, went further and declared that the Brazilian is, as we speak, among the very best three players in the world, in his respective position.
Guardiola’s past record probably suggests that he knows a thing or two about midfielders. City are playing the best football in England, if not in Europe, and Fernandinho has been the backbone of the system – the one who ensures balance and connection between the lines.
Fernandinho’s passing has improved under Guardiola, and so has his ability to remain composed while in possession. While he sits deep throughout City games, it should not be forgotten that the veteran has already experienced different midfield jobs in the past, and can certainly adapt his game to a role, he once mastered.
Brazil’s national team is lucky to have the opportunity of counting on either one of Casemiro, or Fernandinho for the defensive midfielder spot. However, the following question begs. With Casemiro being considered a lock in the starting lineup, is Fernandinho too good to be benched? With Renato Augusto, who is plying his trade in China, starting to show signs of a clear dip in form in the past few games, his presence in the formation should logically be put under question.
Fernandinho was tested in that very same role that Augusto usually occupies, as Brazil emerged victorious against Japan, by a scoreline of three goals to one, in an international friendly on French territory. One would struggle to find arguments as to what makes Renato Augusto better defensively, or even offensively, than the Manchester City vice-captain.
Tite seems fixed on his habitual lineup and is not ready to make radical changes in a World Cup season. But if Renato Augusto does not rediscover the same level of performances he once showed in the yellow shirt, his spot could well be up for grabs. It is what most of Brazil’s national team are already asking. Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho, is another fan favorite, who is believed to be able to offer a better output and add more creativity in that central midfield role.
Whether Fernandinho starts in a more advanced position, or remains as Casemiro’s back-up, it is certain that he will have his chance in the World Cup, with Casemiro or any other of Tite’s protégés, susceptible to suspension or injuries. The tactician knows that he has the luxury to rely on one of the best, and most versatile midfielders on planet earth.