F is for Fernandinho
As regards the World Cup, it is fair to say that Russia 2018 offers a shot at redemption for Manchester City midfield enforcer Fernandinho and his Brazilian colleagues.
The South American giants will open their campaign against Switzerland tomorrow night looking to erase the painful memories of how their World Cup dreams turned to dust back home four years ago.
With the 2014 finals being staged on Brazilian soil, there was a widespread belief that the Samba sensations had a golden opportunity to add to their five previous world crowns.
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All seemed to be going to plan before their 2-0 quarter-final win over Colombia. That victory came at a significant cost with superstar striker Neymar being sidelined with a tournament-ending injury and influential skipper Thiago Silva picking up a suspension for the semi-final.
But still few could have predicted what would happen in Belo Horizonte as a rampant and lethal Germany inflicted the biggest margin of victory in a World Cup semi-final as they inflicted a 7-1 defeat on the hosts.
Such was Germany’s dominance, they were 5-0 up inside half an hour and the eventual champions then scored twice more after the break to leave Fernandinho, his team-mates and the Brazilian nation in a state of shock.
“It was unbelievable. Incredible things happened. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life. This pain is big,” Ferna admitted afterwards.
Fast forward four years however and Fernandinho believes the Brazil that will set out for glory in Russia will prove a very different animal to the side of 2014.
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And fresh from proving a key catalyst in City’s remarkable domestic season, the 30-year-old believes he has arrived in Russia as a much-improved player.
“I’ve managed to improve a lot in terms of my football, so I think I’m a very different player to four years ago,” Ferna admitted.
“And there is no doubt that the national team itself is very different; with new players, with a different technical team, with a different game style and game patterns. So, we’ve all changed and I believe the results will show that we have changed for the best."