Monday 09 April 2018, 11:19

Miranda hoping his time has come

  • ​Miranda in line for his first trip to the FIFA World Cup

  • Narrowly missed out in both 2010 and 2014

  • Believes the opportunity is coming "at the best possible time"

What do Sao Paulo in the 2006 and 2007 Brazilian championship campaigns, Atletico Madrid in the 2012/13 and 2013/14 Spanish league seasons, and Brazil in the qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ all have in common? They all had the best defensive records in those respective competitions.

Those back lines also have one other thing in common: Miranda featured in all of them.

An undisputed first choice under Seleção coach Tite, the ever-consistent centre-half is on the brink of appearing at his very first world finals, having narrowly missed out on places in Dunga’s 23-man squad for South Africa 2010 and Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side for Brazil 2014. Those absences came, despite his impressive career record and the fact he was called up regularly by both coaches.

“I think the World Cup’s coming up at the best possible time for me,” the Inter Milan defender told “I’ve come on a lot in this whole time, both in terms of experience and tactics. I felt I had a great chance of going to the last two World Cups, but I really feel as if I’m much better prepared this time around. There’s a big difference.”

A member of the third-best defence in Italy’s Serie A this season, Miranda is well aware that any decent rearguard owes its effectiveness to a system and teamwork, both of which were attributes of the three other units he appeared in to such good effect: “As a defender and as someone who likes tactics a lot, I know that what counts most of all is a well organised system, with everyone following the same philosophy. Everyone plays a part.”

What is also true, however, is that coaches who know how to put a solid defensive unit together, such as Diego Simeone, invariably call on the services of players like the 33-year-old Brazilian. And what the Seleção’s coaching staff like more than anything about the experienced central defender is the energy, agility, and commitment he brings to his game, and his ability to win 50-50 balls.

Other notable attributes of Miranda’s are his composure and his relaxed temperament, both of which are proving useful, as he waits for Tite to announce his squad for Russia 2018, a wait that will end on 14 May.

As anxious as he is to make the world finals, having missed out on the last two, Miranda is intent on taking things one day at a time. “I can’t think too much about the World Cup right now,” he explained. “I’m just thinking about preparing well, being at my best and having a great campaign with Internazionale. My major objective right now is to help the team make the Champions League. The Seleção players have all spoken about it and we know that the best way forward is to do well with our clubs. We’ve all got that mindset.”

It is a message that Tite has also been getting across in his interviews, not that Miranda needs to be told, having made a habit of achieving excellence and performance for many years. All he needs now is for the biggest reward of all to come his way.

Did you know?

  • A red card against Venezuela in the final match of the qualifiers for South Africa 2010 may well have cost Miranda a place in the competition, coming as it did with a two-match suspension. “I think it did,” he said. “Juan had injury problems that year, so Dunga might have been left without a centre-half. I’m more experienced now, and looking back I think I could have avoided that card. But that’s what happens when you’re a sportsperson.”

  • Atletico Madrid were not the first European club Miranda played for. Before breaking through with Sao Paulo, he spent a season with French club Sochaux, in 2005/06. “It didn’t last long, but it was very important for me. It gave me a different outlook on the game and it helped me mature, more than anything. I left Brazil a boy and went back a man.”

  • Miranda is also a goal threat in the air, as he proved in scoring in Atletico’s 2-1 defeat of Real Madrid in the 2013 Copa del Rey final. “Like any Brazilian kid, my dream was to be a striker. I didn’t have much joy up front, though, and I realised that my best chance of playing in the school championships was to be a defender. I think I made the right decision (laughs).”

The Stat 3,279 The number of minutes Miranda has played for A Seleção since 2014, more than anyone else. In the qualifiers, he racked up 1,483 minutes in 17 matches, all of which he started. With 1,530 minutes, only Dani Alves spent more time on the pitch for Brazil in the preliminaries.