Brazil did not perform as expected today but ended up winning, 3-1, against Croatia in the World Cup opener.
Since the beginning of the game, Oscar showed attitude, courage and commitment to the team. He missed a pass close to Croatia’s box in the opening minutes, and he ended up forcing Croatia to lose the ball close to Brazil’s box. That didn't end up there, as Oscar pressured and recovered the possession of the ball through the whole game.
Some critics had doubts on Oscar being the type of player who raises his game in intense matches like today's. He definitely showed them he is the type of player who doesn’t hide when things get tough.
Oscar took part of Brazil’s attacks constantly on the first half. His first important contribution came off a cross from the right. The ball went past Fred, and Neymar was just inches of striking it. Later, when Neymar showed some of his skill in Croatia’s box, Oscar ended up sending a left-footed strike that forced Stipe Pletikosa to make a save.
It was crucial for Brazil to find the equalizer before half-time to gain confidence and avoid the nerves to take over. And it was thanks to both Oscar’s defensive and offensive game that Brazil was able to find it. He fought for a ball in the midfield, while on the ground, in a play that could have been non-transcendental. He followed up with the play and eventually recovered Neymar’s lost ball and gave the Barcelona forward a second chance to score.
In the second half, a controversial call benefited Brazil, a penalty kick in which arguably Fred got fouled. Regardless of what you believe of the call, Oscar was fundamental on the game-changer play. He was the one on the right wing that got the ball to Fred.
Manager Luiz Felipe Scolari used Oscar mainly on the right, and it definitely worked. After the penalty, Oscar did another wonderful play on the right wing. The Chelsea player was able to beat a defender and then made a cross into the far post were Neymar would have easily scored his hat-trick, but David Luiz got to the ball first and his header went wide.
The cherry on top for Oscar came during stoppage time when he scored the definitive 3-1 that killed Croatia’s hope. The goal couldn't have come at a better time for Brazil. Just seconds before Oscar’s goal, Croatia was close to scoring the equalizer.
Neymar scored a brace and was named the man of the match by FIFA, but it was Oscar’s performance that gave personality to Brazil in both sides of the field. The Sao Paulo homegrown player ended up being fundamental and they always came at the right time.
Scolari has a lot of things to work on if he wants Brazil to win its sixth World Cup, but Oscar's performance is not one of them.
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