Fabinho eyes one-upping Mane

Down to earth and accommodating as he asked for patience while fielding the interview in English, it was clear Brazilian Fabinho was comfortable with his own ability despite not having the same star power as teammates Neymar and Roberto Firmino.ST VIDEO: DAVID LEE

They play alongside each other week in, week out, but tomorrow, Fabinho and Sadio Mane will be on opposite sides of the pitch at the National Stadium.

And the duo from Liverpool are relishing the chance to get the better of each other when Brazil face Senegal as part of the Selecao's Global Tour.

Brazilian Fabinho chuckled at how he and Mane had ribbed each other back in England before arriving in Singapore.

He told The Straits Times: "We joked a little bit about it. Sadio said he is going to score against us.

"Of course, he has the potential to score, but our team are very strong also. So, if I play, I will try to stop Sadio.

"But he is a very good guy. It will not be easy to play against not only Sadio, but the whole Senegal team.

"They reached the African Cup of Nations final. For me, they are the best team in Africa even if they didn't win that tournament. I think it will be a very good game between Brazil and Senegal."

 
 

The 25-year-old also dismissed notions of a fallout between Mane and Mohamed Salah, who elected to shoot instead of setting up his teammate during Liverpool's 3-0 win over Burnley last month.

Fabinho said: "Of course (they are still friends). The day after, the two joked in the dressing room, and they spoke like normal. They are very good friends. At that moment in the game, the players were a little bit hot. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last time."

Down to earth and accommodating as he asked for patience while fielding the interview in English, it was clear Fabinho was comfortable with his own ability despite not having the same star power as Brazil teammates Neymar and Roberto Firmino.

Versatility is his strength, after he was converted from a right-back into a central midfielder at former club Monaco, and he is now recognised as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world.

After winning the Champions League with Liverpool last season, Fabinho hopes to continue lifting trophies with two of the biggest teams in the world.

 
 

He said: "I feel very happy and lucky to play for two of the best and most well-supported teams in the world."

Turning his attention to the race for the Premier League title, he added: "Winning eight games in a row is not easy.

"We are very happy to start like this but it is a very difficult league. The last game, we scored the winner only in the 95th minute. We will try to keep going and win all the games."

Asked to compare his time with Brazil, he added: "Playing for the national team is different because for a Brazilian boy growing up, it is always a dream to play for our nation. There is pressure as everyone wants us to win the World Cup.

"At the last World Cup, Brazil played very good, but we were unlucky... But now we have a very good team, and we have the same coach who knows all the players. And the players know him too, so this is important for our success."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2019, with the headline 'Fabinho eyes one-upping Mane'. Print Edition | Subscribe