Why Oscar Was Brazil's Star Player Against England at Wembley
Brazil will head away from Wembley late on Wednesday night thoroughly disappointed with their performance against England in a 2-1 defeat. Had it not been for goalkeeper Júlio César, that scoreline could have been much worse.
However, it was Chelsea midfielder Oscar who truly stood out for the Seleção.
Luiz Felipe Scolari's side had the benefit of just one training session to prepare for the game and many players have only recently started the domestic season in South America—those will be the excuses, at least.
Whatever he eventually says in public, there can be no doubt that "Big Phil" will have expected more from his players on the night.
Oscar, though, will be one of the few to escape the wrath of the Brazilian media come the morning. The Chelsea midfielder started the game on the right of midfield, before operating as a central attacking midfielder in the second half. He was excellent in both roles.
It was the kind of performance that shot him to global prominence at the 2012 Olympic Games. For long periods of the game he was everywhere: dropping deeper to pick up the ball, surging down the line or linking play behind the strikers. He is truly a phenomenal player when at his best.
For England, Jack Wilshere was stealing the plaudits in a similar role and rightfully so. Oscar was doing his best to match the Arsenal man, but found his colleagues less willing to offer support than those of his opposition.
Wilshere was fortunate that he could count on the likes of Rooney, Welbeck and Walcott to be on the move whenever he picked up the ball. In the first half particularly, Brazil were far too static in their attacking play and, thus, overly reliant on individual skill.
Had Neymar finished his golden first-half opportunity, Oscar would also have come away with an assist to his name. A nicely worked move on the right offered space to pick a low cross, and it was delivered to perfection. His highly rated colleague, though, will wonder quite how he missed.
What Oscar offers is exactly what Ronaldinho, on his return to the Seleção, failed to provide. He was energetic, looking to link play with sharp one-touch passes and to change the focus of the attack.
His colleague looked content to linger in his preferred area of the pitch and seek to pick out through-balls. It is simply not enough at international level.
Chelsea are yet to truly see the best of the Brazilian in West London. Yes, he has had to play wide at times to accommodate the club's other talents, but he showed in the first half that he is more than capable of doing so. With Brazil, he appears more willing to seek to influence the game.
Scolari has a lot to think about in terms of team selection in coming fixtures, but given the mitigating factors, he may offer second chances to some of those who underperformed.
Oscar, though, is a certainty to remain in the side and will be a crucial player for Brazil at the World Cup in 2014.
Scolari must work on the dynamics and balance of his side but, whatever his plans, Oscar should be central to his thinking. At just 21-years-old, his potential ability is astounding.
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