Confederations Cup: Know Your Star – Paulinho (Brazil)

All you need to know about the next big Brazilian prodigy, Paulinho...

 Full name- José Paulo Bezerra Maciel Júnior

Date of birth - July 25, 1988 (age 24)

Place of birth - Sau Paulo, Brazil

Height - 1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)

Playing position - Defensive Midfielder/ Central midfielder

With the Confederations Cup starting this weekend, there are a number of youngsters ready to snatch the limelight from their senior counterparts. Paulinho will be one of the frontrunners of the lot and will fight shoulder to shoulder with his already renowned teammates to win laurels for his nation. Though the midfielder from Corinthians has been a regular face in the Brazilian football circuit for quite some time now, he has not been as popular as the other young Selecao squad members like Neymar and Oscar. Goal takes a close look at the starlet’s career graph and discusses why he is an integral part of Luis Felipe Scolari’s Confederation Cup plans.

1. Early Years:

Paulinho began his career at the youth levels of Pao de Acucar, moving to CA RuBentus after a short stay, where his career started to blossom. In 2006, he was transferred to FC Vilnius, a Lithuanian side only in the age of 17. Only 12 months later, he was shipped out to Polish side Lodzki KS.

2. The Big Break:

In 2009, playing for Bragantino, he drew the attention of Sao Paulo superpower Corinthians and was loaned to the club. Since then, the midfielder has been plying his trade for the Coringaos.

3. Strengths:

Paulinho has been more of an orthodox central midfielder, who chases the ball while the opposition is in possession and can also pass the ball with aplomb. Corinthians usually rely on their composed defensive system and patient build-ups. Paulinho plays a pivotal role in this approach as he pairs with Ralf in the middle of the park when the team is defending and tries to snatch the ball. While invading into the opponent box, he claims his share of glory as often he is seen slotting the ball into the net.

His stamina remains his second best attribute as his headers are as lethal as some of blustering shots of a striker. It remains to be seen how much space he can generate to pull off a free header against the top-class defences, but as of now, he should be held as one of those few ball-players whose headers are considered as dangerous as their shooting.

4. Possible weaknesses:

A player of Paulinho’s calibre can’t be alleged straightaway of any drawback. However, it must also be conceded that Brazilian Legaue is by far behind the top notch leagues of Europe in terms of the quality of the game. The lacklustre performance of Neymar in the recent warm-up matches for Brazil will surely ring a bell in Paulinho’s head also, who has not yet competed against the physically stronger defenders of the European outfits, leaving alone a few Club World Cup matches. 

5. High Points:

Paulinho has won four major titles with Corinthians. However, the best moment of his career came on 16th December, 2012 in Yokohama, when a solitary Paolo Guerrero goal ensured that his club lifts the prestigious Club World Cup against a formidable Chelsea side.

He has also won the Copa Libertadores last year, beating strong challenge from the teams like Boca Juniors. Corinthians conceded only 4 goals on their way to the silverware, becoming the side to concede the least number of goals in one edition of the tournament.

Though Paulinho plays usually as a defensive midfielder for his club side, the fact that surprises everybody is that he was the leading goal-scorer for his side in the Calendar year 2012.

6. You May Next See Him At...:

The talismanic midfielder’s performance in the Club World Cup made him a prospective winter signing for many of the European superpowers. Teams like Inter Milan, Chelsea and Manchester City had been linked with him in the recent past, with the Italian club rumoured to be the most interested party. Though the Brazilian had clearly indicated that he wants to continue plying his trade for his current team for a few more seasons a few months ago, a move to the Milan club seems likely of late.

7. What to expect from him in the Confed Cup:

Brazil start their campaign against Japan on the 15th June in the opening match of the tournament. Paulinho is expected to start at the heart of Brazil midfield with Gustavo, if Scolari sticks to his 4-2-3-1 formation. The interesting part is that he will have the charismatic trio of Neymar, Oscar and Hulk awaiting deep into the opponent half only waiting to be fed with a quality pass. This quartet can be deadly, with Fred left alone on the upfront to take advantage of the chances creted.

If Paulinho can match up to the expectations and pull off a few stellar performances for his country like he often does for his club side, Brazil will emerge as one of the hot favourites to win the bragging rights one year before the world cup in their home ground.

What are YOUR views on Paulinho? Do YOU think he will be a hit in this edition of the Confederations Cup? Have YOUR say below...

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