Chelsea’s Oscar: Performance for Brazil (Graphics & Comment) 1

When you look back on Oscar’s Premier League season, it’s probably fair to say that his gas tanks were nearing empty by March or April.  He wasn’t the same player, and the added physical strain of Jose Mourinho’s system had clearly had a creeping effect on his condition as the season progressed.

Last night, he looked fresh, he look mentally sharp, and he was the best player on the pitch.  Playing for the Selecao, Oscar may be part of the chorus rather than the star of the show, but against Croatia he was the principal reason why the hosts got off to a winning start.

(All graphics courtesy of Squawka)

Oscar: Touched vs Croatia.

Oscar: Touches vs Croatia.

 

It was surprising to see him play most of his football on the right-hand side, because he’s not a player associated with providing width - for Chelsea, at least, he looks infinitely more comfortable through the middle.

Oscar: Distribution vs. Croatia.

Oscar: Distribution vs. Croatia.

 

He moved the ball efficiently and accurately, but - again - not in the same that he would for his club.  Under Mourinho, his distribution would be slightly higher-risk and orientated towards creating opportunities in advanced areas.

Oscar: Dribbling performance vs Croatia.

Oscar: Dribbling performance vs Croatia.

There were too areas in which he excelled: in the recovery of possession and, as shown above, his ability to beat defenders in isolation.  How many times last night did we see him boxed-in to a corner by the Croatians?  And how many times did we see him beat an opponent and move the ball quickly enough to create space for a teammate.  Time-and-time again he did that and the Croatians never looked like the new how to cope with him - even in that unfamiliar right-channel he was still ubiquitous and at the heart of everything that his side did well.

Oscar: Tackling vs Croatia.

Oscar: Tackling vs Croatia.

And the more blue-collared part of his game.

When you look at Oscar and you see his body-shape, you assume that his influence is going to end whenever possession is lost.  But forget the South-American playmaker stereotypes and appreciate that this is someone with a very complete skillset.  The modern trend in the game is for a high-press and, really, Oscar’s the perfect fit for the ideology - he has every creative and pure footballing attribute a manager could want, but that’s accompanied by a strong team ethic and a desire to be more than just a luxury player.

Premier League audiences haven’t quite noticed this yet, but it’s that workrate which makes him so valuable to Chelsea.  There’s no compromise with Oscar as there is with, say, Eden Hazard, and his attacking value doesn’t come at the expense of anything else.  In attacking-midfielder terms, he’s absolutely the complete footballer.

Brilliant performance, super production, and a fully-deserved goal to round-off the night.  That was as good as it gets.

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