For all the galaxy of stars at Manchester City, there is one man’s presence in the team that seems to make the Citizens a far outfit. That man is Brazilian defensive midfielder Fernandinho. The veteran star returned from injury for the champions in a potentially vital 3-1 win at Southampton on Sunday afternoon.
City have missed him badly
City have it all to do in the race for the Premier League title. A big factor in the Citizens uphill struggle was consecutive defeats against Crystal Palace and Leicester. The two defeats may well mean the difference at the end of the campaign in the title race.
Fernandinho missed both of those games and it was scary how badly City missed his presence in the centre of the park. In fact, the Citizens looked like a different team without him.
A team full of expensive superstars suffered two inexplicable defeats. The Brazilian’s absence may not have been the only cause of the two straight losses for City, but it could have been a major contributing factor.
Fernandinho is the perfect defensive midfielder for City
The style of football that City plays means that the full-backs push forward and attack at will. When they are playing with three centre-backs the wing-backs push forward. Either way, their style of play means that whoever plays in the defensive midfield role plays a vital part in the team.
Fernandinho is the perfect player that defensive midfield role. He is good defensively, intelligent and can spring City attacks from his role in front of the Citizens backline. The Brazilian is the sort of player, who will make a vital interception and then use possession cleverly.
He can also get forward, when needed and contribute to the attacking play. The Brazilian international produced another understated yet highly effective performance against the Saints.
When the Citizens underwent a slightly sticky spell in the first half, he helped steadied the ship from his central midfield role. He put his foot in when needed and used the ball well as always.
It was interesting to observe that the midfielder more often than plays the ball forward, rather than some defensive midfielders who will play it safe with sideways or backwards passes.
It is likely it is this attribute that has made Fernandinho such a favourite of boss Pep Guardiola’s in his time in Manchester. He is underrated and underappreciated. His importance is only noticeable when he is not playing. He will be highly difficult to replace in seasons to come.
City still outsiders for the title
The win over Southampton means that Manchester City are still a massive seven points behind leaders Liverpool, who they host on Thursday night in what could be a pivotal game in deciding the title race. The Citizens simply have to win or there may be no way back for Guardiola’s side this season.
City are currently outsiders to win the title at odds of 13/8, which was unthinkable a few weeks ago. They are playing catch up to their north west rivals and know they will have to produce the sort of form that saw them run away with the title last season.
The Citizens now have vital players back from injury, with David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne all recently returning to action after injury. However, the most crucial could be Fernandinho, who could prove to be City’s most important player for the remainder of the campaign.
Is Fernandinho underrated?
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