The World Cup got under way in style on Thursday night as Brazil beat Croatia 3-1 in Sao Paulo. In the first of a daily look at Premier League transfer targets' exploits at the tournament, Goal examines the performance of Chelsea midfielder Oscar...
|PERFORMANCE AGAINST CROATIA
National hero Neymar took the headlines with his two goals that turned the game around but Oscar deserved his late strike more than anyone else on the pitch. Starting on the right flank, with the team under huge pressure to perform, the Chelsea star set about producing a performance of an intensity that he has been unable to show for his club in recent months.
His duel with Croatia left-back Sime Vrsaljko was an entertaining one throughout but one that he won overall, most eye-catchingly with a superbly determined burst past the defender to deliver a sensational cross in the 77th minute. David Luiz headed it well over but the chance deserved better.
Oscar’s contributions came all across the pitch, with his willingness to win the ball back a real plus – never better demonstrated than with the challenge that set Neymar on his way for the equaliser on the half-hour.
And then he netted the best goal of the night just as Croatia had the Selecao on the ropes in the final stages. Seizing an opening on the counter, the Chelsea man burst forward onto the edge of the penalty area before toe-poking with great precision just inside the bottom corner. Stipe Pletikosa was flat-footed by the devilish nature of a fine shot.
|HE'D BE PERFECT FOR...
Chelsea would be the first answer. With Juan Mata frozen out and then exiled to Manchester United by Jose Mourinho, seemingly for not offering enough of a defensive contribution from the attacking midfield line, Oscar is exactly the kind of player to provide that, as his display against Croatia showed.
But a difficult season at Stamford Bridge saw the Brazilian sidelined by the Portuguese and now the signing of Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona brings up big questions. It is a move that shakes up the whole of the Blues’ midfield as Mourinho decides where bets to field his new star and Oscar could conceivably be pushed further back. The manager has criticised the 20-year-old's consistency this season and suggested that the looming World Cup might have seen him hold back for his club.
If not Chelsea, then where? Manchester United are an obvious answer – they still need quality recruits in midfield and have just missed out on Fabregas. Reuniting Oscar with former team-mate Mata could pay off, too, as it did for the Blues before Mourinho’s arrival. A player of the Brazilian’s calibre, however, deserves Champions League football.
Should Yaya Toure depart, then Oscar would suit Manchester City, too, as an all-action midfield player planted slightly further up the pitch than the Ivorian.
|WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Even before the signing of Fabregas, Chelsea were prepared to listen to offers for Oscar and that extra competition in midfield will not make things better. It all depends on who, if anyone, might come in for the Brazilian.
If his World Cup continues at this rate of success then it could prove both a blessing and a curse for the Blues - should Mourinho want to get rid then it will drive up interest in his signature but also the asking price, which could already be a potential stumbling block when talking of a player of such potential.
Oscar, too, must decide on whether or not he wants to stay and fight for his place at the Bridge. But first he has more work to do in his homeland.
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