New Chelsea starlet Oscar wowed the fans at Stamford Bridge last night in their 2-2 draw with Italian champions Juventus.
The 21-year-old Brazilian midfielder scored two wonder-strikes in the space of two minutes for the Blues at 31 and 33 minutes in the first half.
The first, struck from 20-yards out, took a cruel deflection off Leonardo Bonucci, sending Buffon the wrong way. The Old Lady were deflated, having looked lively and matched Chelsea in the first half.
The second, and the more spectacular of the two, and with it buried any doubts that the first had been a fluke – Oscar’s control and technique as he dipped his shoulder at 25-yards out, turning to lose his marker, creating enough space for a him to curl his right foot goal-ward, sending the ball looping past the disbelieving Buffon and into the Juventus net.
The youngster shone less brightly in the second half and was duly replaced by Juan Mata after 74 minutes, to a rapturous applause from the Chelsea faithful. He surely couldn’t have hoped for a better debut.
Branded in his homeland ‘the new Kaka’, as a boy Oscar originated from the same Sao Paulo grounds, where Kaka had first made his name. After his reported £25million move to Chelsea from Internacional, comparisons between the two players may prove to be justified, provided Oscar can live up to the hype of his compatriot’s name.
As a boy of 16, playing his way through the Morumbi ranks, his trainers could already see the potential in the Tricolor. The board, however, were treated to a nasty shock, when the player, under the advice of his representatives, took the club to court, claiming the club had breached the youngsters rights.
His lawyers alleged that Oscar had been coerced into signing a five-year contract with Sao Paulo at just 16, which is against FIFA’s regulations. The disputes continued until mid-2010 when Oscar finally signed to Internacional.
His new club were then the champions of Brazil’s Copa Libertadores, making it a difficult challenge for Oscar to break into Celso Roth’s first team. The teenager seldom played for Inter, until his second term there where, although still an outsider remaining on the fringes of the first team, he showed great promise and, it seemed, finally he would get his chance to play regularly. He did and, in turn, made himself a favourite of the fans.
Oscar’s contribution to the current Inter squad was, most notably, his ability to speed up plays, due to his intense energy on the ball and his advanced technical skills. At Inter, he played opposite D’alessandro, and was able to add an extra dimension to the Argentinian’s slow tempo game, by initiating attacks and finding space in the box to get his shot away. And, as Buffon discovered last night, Oscar is major threat on the edge of the box. Whilst he prefers wandering in and around the middle of the pitch, he provides a dilemma to opposing defences every time he enters the penalty area.
There are concerns that, despite his great control and technique, his slim build may be something to worry about in a more physical division like the Premier League, and of course there is another Brazilian teenager dubbed 'the new Kaka' - Lucas Piazon, who even has a physical resemblance to the Real Madrid man.
Whoever is the real next Kaka, Chelsea are incredibly lucky to have both.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald