Oscar shows his class as Brazil beat Croatia

Adam Pretty

It's probably fair to categorise Oscar's 2014 as a disappointment. The 22-year-old carried Chelsea for the first half of last season, but his form dipped badly following January and he struggled to regain it. Unsurprisingly, this means that many fans have forgotten exactly what he's capable of and why Jose Mourinho has decided to build this team around him.

If Chelsea supporters needed a sign that they should keep their faith in Oscar, he provided it in a big way on Thursday. In the opening match of the World Cup, he ran the game, coming away with a goal and an assist as well as the rare privilege of out-dueling Luka Modric in the centre of the pitch.

After a wobbly start, Oscar was a monster, winning possession, keeping it and using the ball well. Marcelo scored an own goal in the 11th minute, but Oscar was instrumental in Neymar's equaliser, drawing three midfielders towards him, beating them all through what seemed at the time to be sheer toughness, then slipping his teammate into the freshly vacated space.

Oscar was a threat throughout, and although the Selecao didn't deserve the penalty they 'won' after Dejan Lovren committed the indefensible crime of being vaguely near Fred, it should be noticed that the reason the ball got to the striker in the first place was because of Oscar's contributions on the right, where he frequently made up for Hulks miscomings through some clever play and a combination of skill and power that seems fresh and new.

He got the goal his play warranted in injury time thanks to a little help from Stipe Pletikosa ...

... but the really impressive part of the game came with Brazil still down and suffering as Croatia's dual playmakers shone. Realising that he'd have to break down the Modric-Rakitic pairing on his own, Oscar decided to bulldoze two of La Liga's best midfielders, and he did so repeatedly, popping up everywhere to help the team. It was a world-class performance from a player who had been struggling, and it was wonderful to see.

Another Chelsea player saw action (we're not counting Paris Saint-Germain-bound David Luiz, of course), but Ramires only came on as a defensive substitution (for Neymar) with the game already won, and didn't do much once he'd taken the field. But there was good news for the midfielder -- Paulinho had such a poor game that it's not entirely out of the question that his place in the side is at risk, and if the Tottenham man is dropped Ramires get might get his chance to go for glory.

Not a bad day for Chelsea players, in other words -- even if it was a slightly embarrassing one for the officials.

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