Jose Mourinho may only see Chelsea as ‘the little horse’ but many consider them as the favourites to lift the Premier League title in May. They have finally found the winning formula after a rocky start and the team is now stacked with pace, power and ability. In the recent 1-0 victory over Manchester City, their midfield of Nemanja Matic, David Luiz and Ramires was praised as being pivotal to the result. Ramires has been a key player for a number of years now for the Blues and he has continued to show his worth under Mourinho, which shouldn’t be a surprise given his unerring work rate in the middle of the park.
The Brazilian is a box-to-box midfielder who can score goals, create chances and win possession back for his team. This year is important for him as he has the chance to play in a World Cup in Brazil. Although he has been a key member of the Brazil squad since 2009, he needs to have a good season at club level to ensure he makes the squad given the embarrassment of riches that Brazil have available to them in the middle of the park. Even in the Premier League there are Paulinho, David Luiz and Fernandinho, all of whom could be considered for a central midfield berth in the summer.
It’s crucial for Ramires to put in plenty of work defensively due to the system Mourinho has opted to play. In the 4-2-3-1, the Brazilian normally plays in the pivot, which means he has to operate in front of the back four when his side haven’t got possession. His tenacity is showed by his tackling this season. He has put in 74 tackles at a success rate of 77.03%. This is far more than Paulinho who is battling with Ramires for a place in the Brazil team. The Spurs midfielder has put in only 44 tackles at a success rate of 81.82%. He may have a higher success rate than the Chelsea midfielder, but he has also attempted 30 less tackles. Ramires has also made an impressive 25 interceptions, three more than fellow countryman Paulinho. The Chelsea midfielder’s impressive work rate is shown by his total ground 50-50s (296) and total aerial 50-50s (67).
In the modern game, it is crucial for sides to maintain possession as when your side have the ball, you can’t concede. Ramires operates in the hub of the side, so he plays a very important role in keeping possession and moving the ball from defence to attack. His open play pass completion rate of 84% is good, especially as he isn’t known for his passing. Paulinho also has an open play pass completion rate of 84% but he has attempted fewer passes. Ramires has a total open play passes of 1150, while Paulinho has only attempted 914 passes. This might be an indication of Chelsea maintaining possession better than their London rivals. His attacking mentality is shown by his tendency to pass forwards. Ramires sends 31% of his passes forwards, more then any other direction, whereas Paulinho is more likely to pass right (33% of the time). This highlights Ramires’ preference to attack, which would suit the Brazil National side.
As he operates behind an impressive creative trio of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian, the midfielder doesn’t carry much of the creative burden. His attacking role is to make runs beyond the attacking midfielders to support Chelsea’s lone striker. He does add creativity at times though as showed by the 28 chances he has created, two of which have been assists. This may seem like a little contribution, but Chelsea are a side who don’t score masses of goals, so when Ramires does create chances, it can be crucial for the side. Furthermore his 64 attempted dribbles show his attacking intent again, while they also add another dimension to Chelsea’s play. While the opposition defence is worried about the attacking trio of number tens, Ramires can take advantage of the pockets of space left vacant to launch a Chelsea attack. Paulinho has created fewer chances with only 20, while he also has the same number of assists.
Ramires is certainly in pole position to secure a place in Brazil’s side over Paulinho as he offers more across the pitch. His work ethic and defensive work can’t be diminished as they have proved crucial in Chelsea’s season to date, while Brazil would benefit from having Ramires in the middle of the park to offer some defensive stability in a side brimming with attacking talent. He also offers more than most central midfielders as he can surge forward dangerously with his lung bursting runs setting up attacks for his team-mates. He is the perfect player for a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 as he eases the work of his midfield partner (s), while also adding an extra dimension to his side’s attacks. He is still only 26 so will only improve as he enters the peak of his career. The next four years could be a golden period for the Brazilian, both domestically and internationally.