The World Cup is drawing ever closer and Premier League stars will be fighting to earn their place in Brazil next summer.
The hosts will be the clear favourites to life the trophy in 2014, with Luiz Felipe Scolari's side having an enviable mix of talented stars and the backing of the home fans. With Thiago Silva, Oscar and of course, Neymar in the mix, expectations are high as Brazil chase their sixth World Cup title.
But whilst many players appear guaranteed of their place in the team, with Dani Alves, David Luiz, Thiago Silva and Marcelo likely to be the preferred back four, there are still decisions to be made in the centre of midfield. Scolari has a plethora of options available, and having used a number of combinations in friendlies, a number of players will be making a final push to make the squad.
One man who needs to impress more than most is Manchester City's Fernandinho, whose impressive display against Arsenal at the weekend reignited the debate over whether the former Shakhtar Donetsk man should receive a call up from Scolari – but the £30m capture has featured just five times for his country, with his last cap coming in 2012 against Bosnia.
“We will see,” said Fernandinho. “If the manager watches this game, maybe I can get on his squad list in the future, for the next game. I hope he was watching, because I want a chance to play for the national team. No-one has spoken to me about Brazil yet, but I hope after this game someone will.”
His City boss Manuel Pellegrini also agreed with the notion that the 28 year old deserves a call-up, saying; “Yes, I’m surprised he’s not in. But I think before the World Cup Scolari will see what a good player he is.”
Fernandinho will now battle with a number of other Premier League midfielders in a bid to break into the squad, with Liverpool's Lucas Leiva, Chelsea's Ramires and Spurs duo Sandro and Paulinho also looking to impress Scolari. It's now up to the City maestro to prove his worth over his rivals.
Lucas and Sandro are predominantly holding midfielders and offer a protective shield in front of the back four, but with former Arsenal target Luis Gustavo likely to take one place, one of them will be at home. This means that Fernandinho – primarily a box-to-box midfielder – will be competing with Ramires and Paulinho.
Chelsea midfielder Ramires already has 40 caps for Brazil at the age of just 26, but some indifferent displays for the Blues have put his place in doubt. Whilst the former Benfica man is athletically superior to Fernandinho, the latter is far superior technically and defensively, and would offer Scolari a lot more in the centre of the field.
image: © Aleksandr Osipov