Oscar triumph against Juventus no surprise to new star's supporting cast at Chelsea
Team-mates got a sneak preview of his brilliant individual goal against Juventus in training
Friday 21 September 2012
It was the best first touch you will see this season. Oscar, on the edge of the box, with his back to Leonardo Bonucci, cushioned the ball back out in front of him and beyond the reach of Andrea Pirlo. He then darted the other side of Pirlo, making light work of England's nemesis during the summer, quickly reunited with the ball in the open space, spun around and curled it beyond the distant dive of Gianluigi Buffon into the far corner of the goal.
This was not a lucky thump. This was a goal which could only be scored by a player from the elite of both imagination and ability, his second of the night, 30 minutes into his first start for Chelsea against Juventus in the Champions League.
If everyone else watching was surprised, John Obi Mikel was not. "We have seen him in training smash balls in like that," the midfielder shrugged afterwards, having already had the privilege of viewing Oscar in action up close for weeks. Watching the Brazilian, two things are obvious. The first is technical perfection, being able to do what he wants with either foot. The second is his vision. He does not just have a picture of where the other players are, but a sharp anticipate of where they will move and the space it will create.
"He plays great football," said Petr Cech after Wednesday's 2-2 draw. "Simple one or two touches. He's always available."
Mikel is confident Chelsea have found the stylist they were hoping for. "He's just a great player," said Mikel. "His all-round game is very good, he can score goals, he is very creative and I think he is what this club is looking for."
Being that expensive and that young does bring pressure but Cech is confident he will reward Roman Abramovich's £25m gamble to bring him from Internacional. "He's settled in quite quickly and you can see he's really worth the money the club spent," the goalkeeper said. "People will realise he is good value. He's only 21 so let's see how he's going to develop here. It's a pretty good set-up here to become a great player."
Oscar will need to acclimatise to the physicality of the English game, although he did not look as meek as his frame might suggest on Wednesday. "We knew it was just a matter of time," said Mikel of Oscar's adjustment. "The English game is not easy, it is very difficult to come in and straightaway adapt to it. It is going to take time for him. But we have all seen what he can do today and hopefully he can keep going." Oscar held his own physically against the Italians on Wednesday, but Mikel acknowledged his team-mates might need to give him some gentle education of their own. "You don't want to kick anyone and get anyone injured in training," he said. "We try to give him a little bit sometimes."
If he builds on this first showing, Oscar can achieve whatever he wants. "He can only get better," said Mikel. "With his talent and ability, he is going to be a great player for this club."
Meanwhile, Chelsea last night condemned racist abuse of Mikel on Twitter, after the midfielder deleted his account. Mikel removed his profile from the social networking site less than 24 hours after his mistake helped cost them victory against Juventus.
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Despite arriving in a £25m move from Internacional in the summer, most struggled to see how Oscar would force his way into a Champions League-winning midfield that already included the likes of Frank Lampard, Juan Mata, Raul Meireles and Eden Hazard, amongst others.
After his two-goal showing against Juventus on Wednesday, however, it would take a brave manager to leave him out. The Brazilian showed the instincts of a much more experienced player as he flicked the ball around Andrea Pirlo before spinning to curl a delightful shot around the despairing dive of Gianluigi Buffon.
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