Oscar puts on a show for Chelsea fans in Brazil win
On Thursday night in Cardiff's Millenium Stadium, Brazil opened their London 2012 account with what was ultimately a far from convincing 3-2 defeat of Egypt. It was disappointing, indeed, given a half-time lead of three goals, but there are positives that can be taken from the encounter. Principly, the performance of new Chelsea signing Oscar. By the time the first-half finished Brazil werein complete control and the lead could so easily have been more. Egypt were on the ropes and struggling to get anywhere near a Brazil attacking unit in full-flow, conducted by the ever elusive Oscar.
It has been an eventful week for the midfielder who only completed a £25 million move to Chelsea on Wednesday, but the former Internacional man showed few signs of ill-effects, popping-up all over the pitch as the South Americans put on an enthralling early display. With Sandro and Rômulo entasked with protecting the defence, Oscar was allowed to wander from his attacking-midfield brief and reap havoc wherever he saw fit. The results were simply devastating.
Brazil were 2-0 up after half-an-hour and Stamford Bridge's latest recruit was giving a masterclass. Two assists to his name told only part of the story, for it was Oscar's link-play deeper on the pitch that provided Brazil the platform to shine. Throughout the opening period the 20-year-old was regularly seen dropping back to the base of midfield to orchastrate proceedings, linking with the two full-backs to provide Brazil with copious amounts of space on the pitch as Egypt failed to adapt to their opponent's set-up.
Then, when venturing forward, Oscar was nothing short of clinical in his precise dissections of the Egypt defence. First, a stabbed through-ball into the path of marauding right-back Rafael allowed the Manchester United man to open the scoring, before an intelligent and lightening quick run onto a Leandro Damião flick-on saw Oscar left with the simplest of tasks to square the ball for his former club-mate to dispatch into a gaping net. Brutal.
It was a masterful display and one that demonstrated all too clearly why Chelsea parted with such a significant sum of money to secure his signiture. The Seleção may have been completely dominant, but it was not Neymar, or Hulk, grabbing the headlines, it was the diminutive no. 10. However, it was not to last.
The second period was thoroughly disappointing from a Brazilian perspective and coach Mano Menezes will not have been pleased with what he witnessed. Oscar, following his first-half brilliance, was nowhere to be seen. Barring a wonderful back-heeled flick midway through the half, he might as well have been substituted at half-time. Sandro and Rômulo, the men supposed to anchor the Brazilian side, were overrun and the defence, principally Juan and Marcelo, were having a torrid time.
There was very little that Oscar could do, after all, those around him were suffering in a similar manner, but Brazil must develop a plan B for those occasions when they are unable to get a foothold in midfield. If that means the withdrawal of one of the front-three for a further holding midfield presence, then so be it. However, it was disappointing to see the wonderfully gifted midfielder no longer influencing matters in deeper areas, as had proved so effective early on. There will be times in the Premier League and, indeed, with the national side, when the game turns against his side, but Oscar must endeavour to continue putting himself in the midst of the battle. It felt so wasteful, as a viewer, to watch someone so talented languishing on a flank for large periods the second-half.
For those Chelsea fans who were yet to witness Oscar first-hand, though, it was a fine introduction. If Oscar can conduct matters for the Blues in the way he systematically dismantled Egypt in Cardiff, then the likes of Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres will have a field day. That chemistry will take time, after all, Oscar has played countless matches alongside Neymar and Leandro Damião over the past few years, but if it all comes together it threatens to be a truly mouth-watering prospect. The midfielder's star is currently rising with each passing game and there are ever more frequent occasions on which the colossal fee he has commanded seems a snip compared to recent market value. Brazil have much to work on, but Oscar can be quite content with his evening's work.