Why Oscar Has Been the Star of the Men's Olympic Football Tournament
Brazil came into the 2012 Olympics as one of the gold medal favourites, and with good reason, bringing along with them a squad crammed full of exciting young talent and a few players who have already had an impact on the full international squad.
The likes of Neymar, Leandro Damiao, Thiago Silva, Marcelo and Sandro have all been part of the full squad and lend some high class along with experience to the other members of the Olympic squad.
One who has yet to make a significant impact for the full side is attacking midfielder Oscar; a fantastically technical player who has the capacity to make things happen for his side in the final third of the pitch without making the team lose anything in defensive strength or organisation.
Some selfless play without the ball, in addition to the quality and creativity he naturally provides on it, have made him a real standout player in the men's Olympic football tournament and arguably Brazil's most important player.
From their three group stage matches, Brazil picked up a 3-2 win over Egypt, another by 3-1 over Belarus and, most recently, a 3-0 victory against New Zealand.
With the side already guaranteed qualification from the group stages, Oscar—along with several other teammates—was rested for the final game, having already had a massive impact in the first two.
He might have to bide his time in gaining a regular starting spot at Stamford Bridge, with fellow new attacking arrivals Marko Marin and Eden Hazard also targeting starting roles, as well as current players Juan Mata, Frank Lampard, Daniel Sturridge and Ramires, but he clearly has the mental strength as well as the physical capabilities to adapt well and even thrive in the English game.
Clever with the ball at his feet, Oscar does not waste possession easily and, playing with his head up, is always aware of the movement of his teammates. Better still, he has the vision and technical ability to pick them out with a pass from 10 yards or 30, opening up spaces behind the full-backs and also linking well with the forward playing in front of him.
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Arguably, he linked rather better with Leandro Damiao—who himself plays best with a partner to play him into feet—than with Alex Pato, who would be more interested in making runs off the shoulder of the defender.
This perhaps, during the Olympics, was due to the deep-lying defences that Brazil have had to contend with, but Oscar has been instrumental in helping to break them down.
Again, we return to the fact that he is not shy in helping his team keep its shape and press its opponents when it does lose possession, ensuring that the attacking full-backs have time to regain their position and increasing the likelihood that Brazil can win the ball back further up the field and build a new attack themselves.
Oscar has the vision, balance and ability to execute important through balls or show a piece of skill to evade a challenge, which make him an excellent final third playmaker for his country.
Brazil now go on to face Honduras in the quarterfinals of the Olympics, and with Spain and Uruguay already knocked out at the group stage, they will really scent a chance of finally landing their first ever Olympic gold medal in this particular event.
With a rested and refreshed Oscar ready to go again, they stand a great chance of going all the way.
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