In ‘Big Phil’ Scolari and Daniel Levy’s defence, Paulinho’s performances for Brazil at the 2013 Confederations Cup marked him out as some player.
Fast forward 12 months however and Paulinho’s stock both at club and international level has dropped further than Piers Morgan’s popularity with gun-slinging Republicans across the pond.
Brazil’s most emphatic win of the World Cup – which has shrunk the host’s price for glory to 11/4 – could well have sounded the death knell on his starting berth at the finals, while another familiar face (Fernandinho) made bundles of hay in the Brasilia sunshine after replacing him.
Here’s how the two Premier League box-to-box Samba boys square up based on both the season just gone and the World Cup so far, Top Trumps style-y:
Paulinho – 25 years old, 32 caps, 5 goals
Passing range – Fer 7 / Pau 4
Neither man would ever be deemed a sprayer of passes, but Fernandinho’s repertoire based on his season’s efforts is still head-and-shoulders above the Tottenham man. Unlike his struggling Spurs counterpart, Manchester City’s midfielder at least pops it about at a decent lick and often in a forward motion.
Flair – Fer 8 / Pau 5
Again, neither man is going to feature in prominently in Soccer A.M’s showboat reel, but by Brazilian standards Paulinho falls pitifully short of the mark. He’s showed the occasional glimpse in Lilywhite, but for Brazil he’s functional. The former Shaktar ace’s ability to turn on the afterburners means he can skip past people with far more ease.
Creativity – Fer 8 / Pau 5
Within five minutes of replacing Paulinho at the break against Cameroon to get his first taste of the World Cup Fernandinho’s incisiveness led to a goal. Meanwhile, hauled off after 63 minutes of their opener against Croatia, and somehow allowed to play the full 90 in the 0-0 with Mexico, Paulinho’s dynamism clearly got left at the Confederations Cup.
Fernandinho – 29 years old, 9 caps, 2 goals
Goal Threat – Fer 8 / Pau 5
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari: “I think Fernandinho coming in was critical and we created a number of good chances in attack.” Again, neither man is a regular goal grabber, but given his two goals for Brazil at their last tournament Paulinho looks a shadow of that man. His goal-scoring mojo was only sporadically evident at White Hart Lane too, where he only bagged eight all season. The City man’s tally of five from a deeper-lying position speaks volumes as does his goal-scoring impact in his first appearance of the finals.
Defensive responsibility – Fer 8 / Pau 6
With Luis Gustavo doing the anchoring for Brazil, the onus on Paulinho to defend is decreased. However, according to WhoScored.com Fernandinho clearly led his opposite number in the spoiling stakes. He achieved 2.9 to 2.2 tackles won per game and 1.8 to 1.1 interceptions per match during the 2013/14 Premier League season.
Total: Fernandinho 39/50 – Paulinho 25/50
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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