Brazil will be in trouble in Friday’s World Cup quarter-final against Colombia if they afford the outstanding James Rodriguez any space in which to perform, midfielder Fernandinho warned on Monday.
The 22-year-old attacking midfielder has been arguably the player of the World Cup and then far, hitting five goals in Colombia’s four matches, letting in a magnificent volley in the 2-0 defeat of Uruguay in the terminal 16.
And Fernandonho said that he could see that Rodriguez would develop into a wizard when they came up against each other in a Champions League match between Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Porto on September 2011.
“I played against him in the Champions League. It was at the beginning of his time in Europe and he wasn’t even a first- pick” for Porto, said Fernandinho. “Already in that game he proved his technical quality with his left foot.
In this World Cup he is proving everyone that the money Monaco paid for him was well placed. The less distance he gets against us, the safer it will be for Brazil.”
Despite that, Fernandinho said there will be no question of Brazil looking to man-mark Rodriguez, who travelled to Monaco from Porto for 45 million euros ($61.6m) last year.
“Wherever I have played, man-marking does not survive any longer. It needs to be done zonally,” said the Manchester City midfielder.
Meanwhile, Brazil must also gear up to make out with the kind of pressure they faced in Saturday’s dramatic last-16 victory against Chile in Belo Horizonte.
On that occasion, goalkeeper Julio Cesar was in tears before the penalty shoot-out, which Brazil won 3-2, while Neymar was among those who gave way down at the end of the match.
Captain Thiago Silva was also seen crying at the remainder of the match, and has since been picked apart in the Brazilian press for supposedly not leading by example.
Carlos Alberto, the master of the great Brazil side that won the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, told sports daily Lance: “He should accept been in the center of the pitch shouting. He is the captain.”
However, Fernandinho shrugged aside suggestions that this Brazil team are not mentally strong enough to deliver the goods the championship on home soil.
“We have been grooming ever since we first started together on May 26.
We have turned on the psychological side and there is no penury to perform any of that now. What matters today is to demonstrate what we can perform along the pitch,” he stated
“This is my opinion. We deliver a really big responsibility representing a state of 200 million people who hope for happiness and better days through football.”
He added: “We still went on our concentration at the critical moment when it came to penalties.”