Guilherme covets clássico glory

Guilherme is desperate to open his birthday present early at the Mineirao on Sunday. There, three days before he turns 20, he will attempt to unwrap the Atletico Mineiro defence and strengthen Cruzeiro's claims on the Brasileirao crown.

A forward of towering potential, the youngster has high reason for optimism, having scored 15 goals in 25 games in this year's national championship and five times in seven Mineiro derbies. On the eve of one of South American football's most enchanting fixtures, FIFA.com catches up with Guilherme to discuss A Raposa's chances of winning the clássico and the league title, and his and Ronaldo's hopes of representing Brazil at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.

FIFA.com: Cruzeiro lost in the final of the Campeonato Mineiro to Atletico in 2007. How did it feel to regain the title by beating your arch-rivals 6-0 on aggregate in May?
Guilherme: It was an excellent feeling. We took revenge. It felt even better because we beat Atletico by a greater margin than they beat us the year before [Atletico won the 2006 decider 4-2 on aggregate].

Now you're challenging for the Brasileirao title and face Atletico on Sunday. What do expect from the match?
It will be a difficult game. It's a derby so both teams will be determined to win. There's so much emotion, so it's never easy. But this is a game every player wants to play in, and I feel honoured every time I get the chance to defend Cruzeiro in the derby. It's a special fixture. It's one of the biggest derbies in Brazil and the world.

You personally have an excellent record against Atletico. What's the secret to this success?
Principally it's because of the help I've received from my team-mates. It's all about taking the opportunities that come your way, and I've been fortunate enough to have these in the derby. And I must thank God. You always have that extra source of motivation in a derby, and I always feel confident against Atletico. I hope to score against them again on Sunday, but the most important thing is that we achieve victory.

You're also renowned for your ability to create goals. What do you think is your best position?
In attack but playing off another forward. I like to create chances for my team-mates, and this is why I sometimes score less than I would otherwise. Of course it's a special feeling to score, but I also take a lot of pleasure in setting up goals for my team-mates.

Who were your heroes when you were growing up?
Fenômeno (Ronaldo), Thierry Henry and Romario.

On the subject of Ronaldo, he recently told FIFA.com he will rediscover his best form. Do you think he can realise this and make Brazil's squad for South Africa 2010?
Absolutely, I have a lot of faith in him. It's not just me but everybody here. The Brazilian people would love to see the great Ronaldo back. He's working hard and I'm really pulling for him. Everybody knows what Fenômeno has done for the Seleção, especially in the World Cup, and I believe he can make it to South Africa. If he does make it to the World Cup it will be a great boost for Brazil.

You've been talked of as a future Seleção player. Do you feel you deserve a place in Dunga's squad?
It's not for me to say, that's Dunga's choice and I respect his decisions. I just try to keep working hard in order to be recognised. Brazil have several outstanding players, so there is fierce competition for places in the squad. But making it into the Seleção has been an ambition of mine since I turned professional. Playing in the World Cup would be a dream come true. There's less than two years until the next one and there are a number of players in front of me at this point, because they've already had the chance to show what they can do. But I'll keep doing my best and hope I receive an opportunity.

Helping your team win the Brasileirao would likely improve your chances. Do you believe Cruzeiro can realise this goal?
I believe we can. We're in a strong position and we have all the credentials to become champions. It will be tough because there are a lot of good teams fighting for the title - it's going to go down to the wire. But if we stay focused and play as well as we can, I believe we can do it.

And the Copa Libertadores 2009...
I'm not thinking about the Libertadores at all. Right now I'm totally focused on the Brasileiro. It's dangerous to look too far ahead. Of course I've love to win the Libertadores - I'd like to win every title possible with Cruzeiro. But right now our goal is to win the Brasileiro and that's all I'm concentrated on.

Finally, aside from your goals with Cruzeiro, what are your ambitions for the future?
I would like to play for one of the big teams in England one day, but my biggest ambitions are to play for the Seleção and to play in the World Cup. It would also be nice to be recognised by the world as one of the best Brazilian players.