Euro 2020 – Why isn't Bruno Fernandes playing?

Bruno Fernandes
(Image credit: PA)

Bruno Fernandes has barely missed a minute of action since he joined Manchester United in January 2020.

The attacking midfielder has been a revelation at Old Trafford, scoring 40 goals in 80 appearances following his transfer from Sporting CP. 

Since football restarted last June following a three-month hiatus due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Fernandes has played 84 matches for club and country.

He started each of Portugal (opens in new tab)'s games against Hungary (opens in new tab) and Germany (opens in new tab) in the group phase of Euro 2020 (opens in new tab).

However, Fernandes was left out of Fernando Santos' starting XI for the subsequent meeting with France (opens in new tab), although he did enter the fray as a substitute.

Fernandes might have to settle for a place on the bench when Portugal face Belgium (opens in new tab) in the round of 16 in Seville on Sunday.

Santos opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation in his team's opening game of the tournament, a 3-0 victory over Hungary, with Fernandes in the No.10 role.

That scoreline might seem comprehensive, but Portugal did not score the opening goal until the 84th minute.

They struggled to create chances against a well-organised Hungary side, and needed impactful cameos from Rafa Silva and Renato Sanches to unlock their opponents.

Fernandes retained his place in the starting XI against Germany, but he was once again quiet as Portugal lost 4-2.

Needing a draw with France to guarantee progression to the knockout phase, Portugal opted for a 4-3-3 formation.

Their midfield trio comprised of Sanches, Joao Moutinho and Danilo Pereira, and Portugal played reasonably well in a 2-2 draw.

There is an argument that his team is better suited to a 4-3-3 formation, which would make it difficult to fit Fernandes in.

At club level with United (opens in new tab), the team is built around the 25-year-old, but that is not the case with a Cristiano Ronaldo-dominated Portugal.

But the main reason Fernandes did not start against France is probably fatigue. He played 58 matches for United last term and that workload appears to have caught up with him.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

FourFourTwo Staff

FourFourTwo was launched in 1994 on the back of a World Cup that England hadn’t even qualified for. It was an act of madness… but it somehow worked out. Our mission is to offer our intelligent, international audience access to the game’s biggest names, insightful analysis... and a bit of a giggle. We unashamedly love this game and we hope that our coverage reflects that.