Marquinhos’ Star Turn in Midfield Could Be Bad News for Brazil
Tuesday night’s 2-0 win over Manchester United wasn’t the first time that Marquinhos has played in midfield for Paris Saint Germain. But it was probably the first time he had convinced in the role on the big stage. PSG’s attempts to align with Financial Fair Play regulations and the situation with Adrien Rabiot have left their midfield cupboard a little bare.
Marquinhos played in midfield at Anfield in the group stages and did not impress. But having played in midfield often enough, he looks as though he is acclimatising to the role. Not least because, at Old Trafford, he was given a very definitive brief to foil Paul Pogba. Asked to play a purely destructive role, Marquinhos was able to effectively play like a centre half and summon up his natural instincts.
It's doubtful he would be assigned such a duty in Ligue 1, where PSG are far more dominant. But in the Champions League, boss Thomas Tuchel might have unwittingly stumbled on a good midfield combination with Marquinhos partnered by Marco Veratti. It seems to be a good combination of steel and silk.
PSG have often been accused of being a little top heavy at the highest level, with Cavani, Neymar and Mbappe forming world football’s most star studded front 3. Marquinhos offers their midfield some of the defensive fastidiousness it sometimes lacks against the best opposition. But the move into midfield could spell bad news for Brazil.
Marquinhos was one of Tite’s most trusted foot soldiers in defence until the turn of last year, when the manager reintroduced Thiago Silva into the fold. In Silva and Miranda, the coach had a short term partnership for the World Cup. Silva is now 33 and João Miranda is 34. Neither is longed for the national team and Marquinhos should ideally become the next leader of the Seleção back line.
But while Marquinhos’ international colleague Silva is taking up a centre half place at PSG and he is being called upon in midfield, he is not spending valuable time at centre half furthering his skills. Silva and Miranda are at the same age, so there is unlikely to be a gentle handover, the future of Brazil’s defence is likely a whole new partnership which Marquinhos will be expected to lead given his experience.