Jose Mourinho's Plans for Chelsea's Brazilian Trio Oscar, Ramires & David Luiz
Oscar's star has been on the rise since August 2011. In the final of the U-20 World Cup the attacking midfielder, then still just 19 years old, bagged a hat-trick in a 3-2 win for the Brazil over Portugal.
Already an integral part of a strong Internacional side, the player moved to European champions Chelsea and quickly disbanded the myth about South Americans failing to adapt to the rough and tumble, fast-paced Premier League.
Last year was just as transitional for Chelsea as their exciting young playmaker, with the exit of Roberto Di Matteo, the interim hiring of Rafa Benitez and the prolonged hanging around while the world waited for football's worst-kept secret to unfold, Jose Mourinho's second coming at Stamford Bridge marking a season of change in West London.
Now that Mourinho is firmly reinstalled in the Chelsea hotseat, Oscar has been part of the most controversial storyline involving the return of the Portuguese.
The club's Player of the Year for the past two seasons, Juan Mata, has been usurped by the 22-year-old Brazilian international. For all Mata's talents Oscar is the player Mourinho has identified as the brain and focal point of his new-look Chelsea team.
Playing directly behind the centre-forward has given him a greater onus, and he has thrived with the new responsibility afforded to him. Speaking to journalists last month, as reported by the Independent's Sam Wallace, Mourinho said: “Oscar is my No. 10, and, if someone tells me that Oscar is not Chelsea's best player since the beginning of the season, I'd have to disagree.”
Oscar is pairing up in his new central role with compatriot Ramires, and the two are showing the first fleeting indications of what could be a blossoming union once evergreen Frank Lampard finally decides to hang up his boots.
Together the pair are the creative fulcrum for Mourinho, a partnership they can take to the international stage at next year's World Cup. While Oscar's function lies solely in the attacking third, Ramires is a box-to-box midfielder, capable of covering every blade of grass on the field with his relentless drive.
Sitting deep and launching the side's attacks in the mould of Andrea Pirlo, Ramires' boundless energy allows him to close down opposition, restricting invaluably the time and space other teams have to use the ball. Playing alongside Frank Lampard gives the Brazilian the perfect example of how to perform an all-round role in the midfield. Dedicated practice can instil that instinct on when to go forward and when to drop back.
With Mourinho's natural caution always evident in the sides he selects, Ramires' retreated threat paired with Oscar's intelligent assists and precise passes can lend Chelsea's season some samba spice.
Making up the third part of the Brazilian trio at Stamford Bridge, defender David Luiz's future is the least certain.
A shaky performance against FC Basel in the Champions League saw him omitted from Chelsea's next Premier League match against Fulham. For now he is one half of Luiz Felipe Scolari's central defence for the national side, but a dip in form or losing his place in the Chelsea team could be disastrous, especially now we are in a World Cup year.
His comfort and confidence on the ball can lead to daring escapades up the field, something that could have Mourinho tearing his heart out. Discipline is at the heart of the manager's philosophy. There are times when Luiz opts for the long raking pass rather than the short, simple option.
You can only imagine Mourinho insisting on a less daring, more reserved role for his central defenders. Last season, Luiz gave the ball away on average once every 85 minutes compared to John Terry's 296 minutes.
For a player of international standard that is far too often, and it is that tendency which may see him struggle to keep his place in a Mourinho scheme.
He has put in enough performances, particularly under Scolari, to show he has the ability to play an important role at the very highest levels. But from now on, at club level at least, he may have to curb that enthusiasm.
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