Hulk, Damiao, Neymar and Pato: Power Ranking the Brazil Strikeforce at Olympics
The Brazilian soccer team have their sights set on Olympic gold. And in true samba football tradition, they are led from the front.
When Mano Menezes was appointed as Brazil's national team coach, his mandate was clear—to win, and win in style, restoring attacking flair to a side many felt had become overly defensive under previous boss Dunga.
The jury is still out on Menezes. His tactic of marrying a solid back line with a fluid, creative strikeforce has yielded fairly lopsided results so far this Olympics, Brazil scoring 12 goals but leaking five—to Egypt, Belarus and Honduras.
So while the Brazilian defence still clearly has some work to do, the attack certainly seems to be coming together. But with such a wealth of talent—Neymar, Hulk, Pato and Damiao—how do Brazil's strikers rank?
Honorable Mention: Oscar
Oscar is technically a midfielder, but roams freely forward in the No. 10 role.
Arguably the standout player of the Olympic men's tournament, Oscar has been instrumental in many of Brazil's successful forays, scoring one goal himself and providing two assists.
The only forward chosen among Brazil's three over-age players, FC Porto's Hulk has been the least effective of the front line.
While his strength, pace and movement have been important to Brazil's forward options, Hulk has so far failed to find the net, and chipped in with only one assist.
His substitution in the 66th minute against Honduras for the underused Lucas Moura may signal that Hulk is running out of time to impose his influence on this Brazil side.
3. Alexandre Pato
Pato has played a relatively limited role in Brazil's Olympic tournament, starting only the group stage match against Belarus.
But the 22-year-old quickly reminded why he is still a valuable attacking option, scoring Brazil's crucial equalizer in the 15th minute.
That goal ranks Pato higher than Hulk statistically, but it could certainly be argued that Hulk's more consistent and industrious performances have been equally if not more important to Brazil's progress in London.
2. Leandro Damiao
It was always apparent that Neymar was going to be crucial to Brazil's hopes for Olympic gold.
Seldom has such a young, unproven player come into a major tournament as the acknowledged talisman of a team as big as Brazil.
And the 20-year-old Santos sensation has delivered.
Statistically, he dominates the Brazil front line with three goals, two assists and by far the most playing time. And in terms of creating chances and building the attack, he and Oscar are clearly the orchestrators of this dynamic side.
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