Brazil squeezed past a resolute Croatia side in the first game of the 2014 World Cup with a 3-1 victory. After much anticipation for the match, Brazil were caught off guard by a Croatia side who were determined to show their attacking side rather than sit back and defend which many predicted. After Kovac’s men took a shock lead, Neymar made his mark by scoring twice but the real star of the show was Oscar who shone after an under par performance from the hosts.
Often deployed as the midfielder supporting the main striker at Chelsea, Oscar was switched to the right hand side with Hulk on the left and Neymar the one supporting the front man Fred in attack. Fred and Hulk were poor in their output and so the performances of Neymar and Oscar were even more important to help Brazil get off to good start on their home turf.
Oscar was brilliant on the right hand side and his quick feet and movement was a handful for the Croatian defenders with superb passing and crossing to match.
Oscar’s heat map above shows his influence in the right hand side and gave Vrsaljko a torrid time at left back. The performance showed his versatility in that he was able to replicate the sort of display he normally produces when playing off the striker, meaning that he can make a difference in various positions which will definitely benefit Brazil during the rest of the competition.
In terms of his Chelsea form last season, Oscar started off the campaign in stunning from but his performance level petered out towards the end of the season. Regardless of his form, one thing he has built upon during his time under Jose Mourinho is the defensive aspect of his game. Tracking back is a trait which more and more attacking players have had to adapt into their game in recent times with the pace at which matches are being played at increasing. Oscar on the whole will more than likely put in a shift in both parts of the field and made three crucial interceptions whilst winning four of his six tackles against Croatia, one of which was a crucial challenge against Modric who was breaking away.
Oscar made his first major contribution to the game with an assist for the penalty. Oscar’s pass into Fred helped produce the goal from the spot kick which was converted by Neymar. He then got his own name on the score sheet with good improvisation. With the Croatian players chasing the game, Oscar was able to benefit from the counter attack and was able to toe poke a shot into the bottom corner to finish a nervous game for Brazil in style.
During the game, he created three chances, was successful with 67% of his challenges, was on target with all of his shots and has a passing accuracy of 83%; not bad for a days work.
As mentioned before, the Croatian left back had to keep up with an in-form Oscar and his ability to beat his defender was evident as he was successful with 7 out of his 11 take-on’s during the match, predominately on the right hand side.
Brazil were caught cold at the start of the match but did enough to come through the game and were thankful for Neymar and Man of the Match Oscar but will expect all of their attacking players to show more during the rest of the World Cup.