With the host nation celebrating the morale-boosting victory over Colombia in the quarter-final at the World Cup, it was short lived as news filtered through that poster boy Neymar would miss the rest of the tournament with a serious back injury.
With the nation still reeling after the news, Luiz Felipe Scolari will have swiftly turned his attention to who can replace the Barcelona star ahead of the World Cup semi-final against Germany.
Thiago Silva backed Willian to shine in Neymar’s place, but Bernard will have something to say about that ahead of the big clash on Tuesday.
Willian, swooped by Mourinho from the unsuspecting palms of Tottenham, has not exactly lit up the Premier League but has become a fans favourite in west London in the 12 months he has spent there. His hardworking, motivated and professional attitude guarantees him a spot in the starting XI most weeks, especially in the big games where Mourinho expects military-efficient discipline from his charges.
However, the situation on the international scene is not as easy but the former Shakhtar man will be expecting to start ahead of Bernard – and rightly so.
The diminutive Brazilians have both been impressive for their clubs, but the Chelsea man most certainly possesses more armoury in his locker than his compatriot.
Their averages per game bode more favourably in the direction of the west London-based player, firstly with his Squawka Performance Score. Willian averages a figure of 22 compared to Bernard’s measly 3.83.
A much more lethal finisher than his counterpart, Willian averages 0.16 goals a game while Bernard failed to hit the target in Europe last season for Shakhtar.
Although being deployed predominately out wide on the right, Willian has provided a paltry 0.08 assists per game last season, while Bernard has not assisted any chances during Shakhtar’s Champions League campaign.
Willian proves just why Mourinho is a fan of his defensive capabilities with a score of 1.4 when it comes to winning tackles, impressive for an predominantly attacking winger. Meanwhile in what will be a tight game and most likely decided by the tightest of margins, Bernard wins 0.50 tackles per game.
Brazil will have to make the most out of possession when they have the ball and Willian seems the more efficient suited when it comes to that. He boasts a pass accuracy of 86% compared to Bernard’s 81%. In the blistering temperatures on Tuesday night, it will be key for Scolari’s men to keep the ball from a side who are relentless when in possession.
With chances few and far between, Willian’s creativity will be pivotal for the Selecao and he produces 2.56 chances per game while Bernard averages just 0.83 during a match.
While Bernard’s dangerous pace will be useful for the Brazilian’s in Neymar’s absence, Willian has proven he has the credentials to do the damage on a more consistent basis and that is why Willian could be the more useful option come Tuesday night.