Marcelo is genuinely prepared to do whatever it takes to help his team win. That instinct was made menacingly clear during a recent episode of A-Leagues All Access, a weekly behind-the-scenes documentary series. It was centred on Socceroo Jason Cummings, who needed pain-killing injections to overcome a rib injury and play off the bench for the Central Coast Mariners against the Wanderers last month.
In the tunnel at half-time, Marcelo asked how his injury was – a seemingly innocent question with a violent undertone. He then told Cummings: “I’ll be waiting for you on the pitch. I’m going to smash you in the ribs.”
True to his word, when Cummings entered the match, the big Brazilian crunched him in the back and poked repeatedly at his tender midsection behind play. Wanderers fans loved it, everyone else hated it.
Marcelo makes no apologies – especially since Cummings ended up scoring, funnily enough, via his ribs – although he’s eager to point out that while he pushes the boundaries, he never actually crosses them.
“I didn’t mean to be unfair against him. He was injured, but in that game, I was injured as well, I had a problem with my groin, so I wasn’t really 100 per cent,” he said.
“Honestly, the last 20 years of football, I never played 100 per cent without pain. That’s normal. Don’t use it as an excuse: if you are there, you are open to everything. I don’t care if he’s injured, if he is on the field, that means he’s fit enough to play.
‘Marcelo … if you don’t win the game, your mother will not eat. You won’t have food on the table.’
Wamderers’ Brazilian defender Marcelo Guedes
“The information came to us, I don’t know [from] where, I don’t know how, but I need to use that to help us. That’s football, man.”
Any Sydney FC players carrying niggles, then, are duly warned ahead of Saturday night’s derby at Commbank Stadium against the second-placed Wanderers.
“I don’t measure myself as a ‘bad boy’ of football. I just try to play hard, and most of the time, you can see, if you watch my game, I’m really fair,” he said.
“In football, we play with our heart but also with our head. The psychological side of football is really important. We have some skill sets that can make the striker sometimes don’t concentrate 100 per cent, or don’t feel so comfortable in the match. And that’s what I try to do. That’s part of the game as well.”
The Wanderers have cycled through a different captain in every season since their last A-League finals appearance, almost seven years ago. That drought looks on track to be broken at last in the coming months, and the stability Marcelo provides at the back is a big reason why.
His first Sydney derby experience was in front of almost 35,000 people at Allianz Stadium, and is not afraid to say the atmosphere that night was on par with the derbies he’s played in across Europe. It’s obvious, too, that he’s wholeheartedly bought into Marko Rudan’s rebuild project at Wanderland, and is proud to represent the people of the west.
He spent his Wednesday night jumping on the fan-made RBTV vodcast, where he was told the western suburbs was Sydney’s closest equivalent to the favelas he grew up in.
“I said, ‘I’ve flown home, mate,’” Marcelo said.
“I don’t blame the people that live in the east, but it’s good to play for people who work really hard. People from western Sydney, honestly, I feel really happy to represent them on the field. It’s a big club here, it’s won big titles in the past, and it doesn’t deserve to be where they were the last couple of years. I’m happy that now we can bring the name of this club to the top again.”
Watch every match of the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League on Stan Sport. Returns for the Round of 16 in February 2023, with all matches streaming ad-free, live and on demand.
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