Fernandinho once again proved that he’s the master of deception during Manchester City‘s historic 2-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Brazilian, otherwise known as Mr Tactical Fouls, celebrated his 36th birthday at the base of City’s midfield and helped City to secure their place in the Champions League final following a 4-1 aggregate win.
Selected over Rodri to act as a pivot behind Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho appeared to defy all reasonable physical logic and expectation with an indefatigable display.
From a footballing perspective, he was scintillating.
From a dark arts perceptive, he schooled a mere pretender in Ander Herrera and sent the PSG players into a manic frenzy.
It was death by subtlety and craft.
According to WhoScored, Fernandinho racked up four fouls on the night, which, aside from Kevin De Bruyne (4), was more than any other player on the pitch.
Even though the PSG players sought blood in the final minutes, kicking and chopping with malicious intent as they watched their European dreams crumble in the latest instalment of their recurring nightmare, he still managed to accumulate more fouls than anyone on the losing side.
From a defensive perspective, he was highly involved, completing five tackles, three interceptions and three clearances.
It wasn’t all heel clipping and back-shoving, and Fernandinho’s highlights from the game, which include threaded passes, timely interceptions, smart fouls and an almost paternal instinct to protect a riled Oleksandr Zinchenko, illuminate just how influential he was against the Parisiens.
Yet he didn’t receive a booking despite his heavy defensive involvement and number of fouls committed.
Fernandinho has made a bit of evading the referee’s notebook throughout his career and established a reputation as one of the most astute tactical foulers in the business.
On this evidence, it’s fair to say he’s football’s most genius s***house.
Aside from the fouling, Fernandinho also goaded Angel Di Maria into a Kamikaze moment of petulance which earned the Argentine a 69th minute red card.
City’s midfield destroyer escaped punishment, but Premier League legend Arsene Wenger believes he should have been sent off and claimed that he didn’t like his midfielder’s behaviour (1:15 onwards) while speaking to beIN SPORTS.
“I don’t like Fernandinho how he behaved tonight.
“Because it’s provocative. If you send Di Maria off, you have to send Fernandinho off as well, for me. He should already have a yellow card at the moment when he was provoking Di Maria.”
Whatever your stance, when the dust settles on Fernandinho’s career he will occupy his place alongside Claude Makelele and Sergio Busquets on a shared throne with the best defensive midfielders the game has ever seen.