At the end of Brazil’s 7-1 humiliation against Germany there was a rather touching moment as a visibly distraught Oscar was consoled by Germany vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger. The Brazilian had done his best to stop the onslaught but he was absolutely powerless as the German machine ran riot.
Questions have been raised about Oscar’s mentality and how he will cope with such a defeat and whether or not it could affect him as the new season with Chelsea begins.
The real question is not whether that performance will affect him or not it is actually where is he best utilised for Chelsea? Oscar is a number ten by trade, that is where he started his career and that is where he displaced Juan Mata, but there is a growing suspicion that that may not be his best position.
Last season Oscar was used as the number ten for Chelsea with Eden Hazard and Willian either side of him but he may be better suited to play a little deeper. The reason being is that while Oscar is an extremely talented footballer, having created 48 chances last season, he is not as creative as Hazard (92) or Willian (64). He also created fewer chances that Chelsea new boy Cesc Fabregas (58) and perhaps by playing him in the number ten role Jose Mourinho isn’t getting the most out of Oscar’s talent.
The Brazilian’s best asset is obviously his incredible work rate and Mourinho has cited that as one of the reasons that he preferred Oscar to Mata at the start of last season. He likes to use Oscar to hassle the opposition’s creative midfielders but there is no reason why he cannot continue such a role but operate a little deeper.
Chelsea could do worse than employ a similar 4-3-3 to the one that Germany used in the World Cup. That would see Nemanja Matic playing in the deeper role with Fabregas the most advanced and Oscar operating as a box to box player. Oscar won 49 tackles last season, the fourth highest of any player at the club and Mourinho obviously values his defensive contribution. It seems silly to burden the likes of Fabregas with something he doesn’t excel at and allow the Spaniard to be the team’s main creative outlet.
The other alternative, if Mourinho decides not to switch formation, is to switch Oscar and Willian around. Willian had a slow start to his time at Chelsea but once he found his feet and settled he became a very important player for the Blues. He is another one who could benefit from being given a more creative role but the disadvantage there is that you would lose his pace on the flank. One of the best features of Chelsea’s attacking trio is that they are intelligent enough to switch positions of their own accord.
Mourinho needs to be extremely careful with Oscar; the little Brazilian looked extremely jaded towards the end of last season and he has played an astonishing number of games for club and country over the past few seasons. Mourinho has to be wary not to burn out his star entirely. This is where the World Cup performances of Andre Schurrle come in handy, the German had a brilliant tournament and Mourinho will know he can use him to give Oscar a rest if needs be.