Brazil Brazil’s qualifying hero Renato Augusto determined to fight for World Cup starting berth Raisa Simplicio 01:40 5/31/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Getty Brazil World Cup Friendlies Brazil v Croatia Brazil v Switzerland Brazil v Costa Rica Serbia v Brazil Croatia Switzerland Costa Rica Serbia The China-based midfielder shined during qualifying but he faces a fierce challenge from Fernandinho to anchor the Selecao at the upcoming finals One of Tite’s cornerstones during the road to Russia, Renato Augusto now faces a tough challenge to push himself into World Cup contention. The hard-working midfielder will need to prove to his coach that he is still an essential cog in Brazil’s machine. Renato is the only player in the Selecao that plays in China’s Super League, and has seen his stock rise immeasurably since he starred in the arduous South American qualifying campaign. His biggest rival for a starting spot, however, is Fernandinho, who also left a brilliant impression during Manchester City’s all-conquering Premier League season. The vagaries of the Chinese season, moreover, means that Renato goes to Russia with less playing time than his team-mates. He has racked up just 1,800 minutes since August, compared to Alisson’s 4,400 in the Roma goal. And he is still way behind even Pedro Geromel, who with 3,172 minutes is the player directly above him in that ranking. Editors’ Picks Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp Sorry, Cristiano! Pjanic is Juventus’ most important player right now (Foto: CBF / Divulgação)In the most recent Brasil Global Tour friendlies held in March, Tite decided to try out a team without Renato Augusto. Against Russia, Willian was given the chance to roam in midfield, with Philippe Coutinho pulling inside to support the Chelsea star and Douglas Costa, who deputised for the injured Neymar. For the clash with Germany, meanwhile, the coach opted to start Fernandinho for added bite in the engine room. The Selecao won both their games but looked more impressive against Germany, even taking into account the stiff challenge posed by the reigning World Cup holders. But Renato has one card up his sleeve. He knows Tite well, having starred under the coach at Corinthians as the Brazilian giants romped to Serie A glory in 2015. (Foto: Rodrigo Gazzanel/Ag. Corinthians)The player is also used to playing under pressure. At just 18 he took on Flamengo’s No. 10 shirt in the Copa do Brasil final, against bitter Rio rivals Vasco da Gama and at a time where the club had suffered an acute trophy drought. In front of a packed Maracana, Renato showed he was different. He did not flinch from the challenge and was one of the stars of the show. Since then technical ability and tactical awareness have been two of his hallmarks. Just two years after that wonderful introduction he had earned a move to Germany. Injury, however, interrupted his European adventure and led to a loan move back to Brazil with Corinthians, coincidentally under the same coaching staff now in charge of the national team. Renato’s Brazil career could have started even earlier if it were not for those physical problems. He was called up by Mano Menezes in 2011 at the start of a new World Cup cycle but failed to carve out a regular place. Tite is yet to hint at his starting line-up for Sunday’s Brasil Global Tour friendly against Croatia. But the coach is keen to pick a side that can carry Brazil into the World Cup and enter the finals in Russia in the best shape possible.