Champions League

Fernandinho the glue binding surging Man City together

2018-11-06 09:53
Fernandinho
Fernandinho (Getty Images)

United Kingdom - Among a dazzling array of midfield options, it is the often unheralded Fernandinho who Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has relied on most in another stunning start to the season for the Premier League champions.

The Brazilian will face old club Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday as City seek to make amends from the only blip of their campaign so far, a shock 2-1 defeat to Lyon in their last Champions League home game.

If any reminder was needed over Guardiola's influence, he was banned from the touchline that night.

Since his return, City have won nine and drawn one, a 0-0 stalemate away to Liverpool, of their last 10 games, scoring 29 goals and conceding just two in the process.

Although fulsome in his praise of the maturing centre-back pairing Aymeric Laporte and John Stones, Guardiola's defensive philosophy is dependent on a team effort to keep the ball as far away from City's goal as possible.

"Always we try to convince our players as far away the ball is from our goal, we are safe. It's much, much better. The moment the ball is around our box, anything can happen," said Guardiola this week.

"In 10 years I was always concerned, always focused, maybe more than any other thing, in defending well.

"The only difference is we do it far away from our goal."

Central to that philosophy is Fernandinho's ability to not just read the game and quickly regain possession, but also use the ball soundly as a springboard to City's attack.

"There is always a relation. When you attack good, you defend well. When you defend well and are solid, you attack better," added Guardiola.

'Luckiest manager in the world'

Despite turning 33 earlier this year, Fernandinho has started all of City's 14 Premier and Champions League matches this season, while the more creative talents of David Silva, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling have had to live with Guardiola's rotation policy.

"Ferna would make any manager the happiest or luckiest in the world," said Guardiola ahead of City's 3-0 win in the Ukraine against Shakhtar two weeks ago.

"He is a joy to have as a player - he is very special. He will always be a special player for me to work alongside."

Guardiola knows very well the dual demands of Fernandinho's role having won the European Cup in his days as a player in the same position for Barcelona.

Fernandinho received arguably the highest praise from his manager when he claimed even Guardiola the player couldn't force his way into the current City juggernaut given his form.

So far City's failure to land Jorginho, who instead choose to follow Maurizio Sarri in the move from Napoli to Chelsea in July, to share the burden as the midfield anchor hasn't proved costly.

Instead, Guardiola's men show no sign of a slip in standards from their record 100-point Premier League campaign last season, as evidenced by a 6-1 annihilation of Southampton on Sunday.

It is the Champions League that remains the holy grail for City's Abu Dhabi owners, though, and despite the Lyon stumble, another victory against Shakhtar will put the English champions well on course to make the last 16 for a sixth straight season.

NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Fixtures
Tuesday, 27 November 2018
AEK Athens v Ajax, Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis 19:55
CSKA Moskva v Viktoria Plzen, Stadion Luzhniki 19:55
Juventus v Valencia, Allianz Stadium 22:00
Bayern Munchen v Benfica, Allianz-Arena 22:00
Olympique Lyonnais v Manchester City, Groupama Stadium 22:00
Manchester United v Young Boys, Old Trafford 22:00
Roma v Real Madrid, Stadio Olimpico 22:00
Hoffenheim v Shakhtar Donetsk, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena 22:00
Wednesday, 28 November 2018
Atletico Madrid v Monaco, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 19:55
Lokomotiv Moskva v Galatasaray, RZD Arena 19:55
Porto v Schalke 04, Estadio Do Dragao 22:00
PSG v Liverpool, Parc des Princes 22:00
PSV v Barcelona, Philips Stadion 22:00
Borussia Dortmund v Club Brugge, Signal-Iduna-Park 22:00
Napoli v Crvena Zvezda, Stadio San Paolo 22:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Internazionale, Wembley Stadium 22:00
Tuesday, 11 December 2018
Galatasaray v Porto, Turk Telekom Stadyumu 19:55
Schalke 04 v Lokomotiv Moskva, Veltins-Arena 19:55
Liverpool v Napoli, Anfield 22:00
Barcelona v Tottenham Hotspur, Camp Nou 22:00
Club Brugge v Atletico Madrid, Jan Breydelstadion 22:00
Monaco v Borussia Dortmund, Stade Louis II 22:00
Internazionale v PSV, Stadio Giuseppe Meazza 22:00
Crvena Zvezda v PSG, Stadion Rajko Mitic 22:00
Wednesday, 12 December 2018
Viktoria Plzen v Roma, Doosan Arena 19:55
Real Madrid v CSKA Moskva, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 19:55
Valencia v Manchester United, Estadio de Mestalla 22:00
Benfica v AEK Athens, Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz) 22:00
Manchester City v Hoffenheim, Etihad Stadium 22:00
Ajax v Bayern Munchen, Johan Cruijff ArenA 22:00
Shakhtar Donetsk v Olympique Lyonnais, Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist 22:00
Young Boys v Juventus, STADE DE SUISSE Wankdorf Bern 22:00
Logs
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Which English Premier League club will progress furthest in this season's Champions League?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.