Brazil will have to make do with the silver medal after Mexico sprung a big surprise in the Olympic final, beating the highly-backed favourites 2-1 in front of a 85,000+ crowd. Sadly, Chelsea's new no.11 couldn't channel the powers of the last man to wear the number eleven at Wembley Stadium, as the Selecao turned in a highly disappointing performance, which combined with an incredible performance from Mexico, means that one of the most successful football nations in the world - and the most talent-packed squad at the tournament - has again failed to pick up the gold medal, despite finishing on the podium five times.
From a Chelsea perspective, that's not of real concern - unless you're trOOly - what's important for us is, of course, how new signing Oscar played. Unfortunately, the news isn't great, because while there were moments of inspiration, the playmaker was often on the periphery of the match and wasn't at the high standards he had set earlier in the tournament. In fact, the other game where he was rather disappointing was the scrappy 3-2 win over Honduras, a match rather similar to this one as the attack lacked the usual fluidity in its link-up play, thus diminishing Oscar's ability to find passes and retain possession.
This can partly be attributed to the imbalance caused by Mano Menezes's selection of Alex Sandro after the Porto left back was effective as a defensive shield for Marcelo in the semi-final against South Korea. Here, with Neymar often drifting out to the left flank and Brazil relying on Oscar and Romulo to shuffle across to the right wing, the side lacked structure. With one of the midfield constantly moving out of that zone to balance the attack, they lost control of the centre, and struggled to retain possession. With Mexico switching to a three man midfield, they reaped the benefits, and controlled the game.
This was rectified to an extent when Hulk was introduced, which saw Oscar given a more prominent central role and Brazil had more of a balanced feel to their play: more dynamic and more dominant. This carried over into the second half, with a tidy back heel to escape the attentions of three Mexican defenders and a few dangerous crosses amongst the highlights for Oscar. I was particularly impressed by a neat piece of build up play with Marcelo that saw a cut back for Neymar just miss it's target, largely thanks to the intervention of some dedicated Mexican defence.
However, as the game wore on, Brazil became more and more desperate, throwing on Alexandro Pato, and later Lucas Moura, in a feverish bid to rescue the game. Oscar was pushed further back the field, which seemed an interesting move in terms of assessing his suitability for a role in a double pivot. But it would be unfair to analyse much out of the fifteen minutes he played there: Brazil were going for broke, and the team was in an almighty panic as they faced failure at the final hurdle, exemplified by the hilarious bust-up between Rafael and Juan. Although to be honest, if I were Juan, I would have lost my temper a lot earlier: Rafael was at fault for Oribe Peralta's double: first for gifting him possession in the final third just twenty nine seconds in, and the second coming as the Manchester United fullback seemingly found it prudent to see what the striker could do with a free header from a set piece.
At the death, Oscar had a good chance from a Hulk cross to score what would have been an undeserved Brazilian equaliser after Hulk had given them some hope, but it was not to be. Oscar will arrive at Stamford Bridge an Olympic silver medallist, nothing to be sniffed at, but he will be disappointed with his side's inability to live up to their promise of gold. He had a good tournament: certainly one of the stand out stars. It bodes well for the kind of impact he may have on the Premier League this season, even if the quality of the Olympic football isn't really equatable to the standard he'll face in England. It's more about the intelligence and maturity he's shown throughout the tournament which has been extremely promising. I, for one, can hardly wait for his Chelsea debut.
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