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Oscar sparkles, David Luiz shows signs of insanity in Brazil vs. France

Francis Bompard

I'm going to go ahead and say it: Right now, Oscar is Brazil's best footballer. Neymar has more talent, but Oscar puts that talent to better use, getting in better positions and making sane decisions rather than... well, being Neymar. He's certainly been their best player over the past few games, and he made a huge impact in the Selecao's friendly against France, starting in the middle of the pitch and scoring the opening goal in Brazil's 3-0 win.

The big news, of course, is his goal. It wasn't a particularly memorable one -- Jeremy Mathieu lost the ball to Fred, who squared for Oscar on the penalty spot -- but it demonstrated his excellent technique and coolness under pressure. In a tight, 0-0 game, the 21-year-old recognised he had time to control, killed the ball perfectly with one touch and scooped past the onrushing Hugo Lloris with the next.

But everything else about the 65 minutes of Oscar's game was excellent as well. I particularly like his ability to get opposing defenders to bite on things -- he tends to show just enough of the ball to get them to commit and then glides past them like some sort of footballing phantasm. His crossing and set piece delivery was superb, his vision top-notch and the only critique I have is that he might not have tracked back with as much discipline as was required.

And tracking back was required, because the Brazil double pivot of Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho struggled for long spells. They weren't helped by David Luiz, who had one of his crazier games, providing ample ammunition for the 'he's not a centre back' crowd. The defender was caught ball-watching more than once, and was overly aggressive in trying to clear up his midfield's mess, eventually resulting in a first-half yellow card after he wiped out Dimitri Payet. He also nearly scored an own goal attempting to block a cross -- fortunately Julio Cesar was on hand to keep the deflection out.

It wasn't all bad for David Luiz, however. He contributed to the attack (the midfielders didn't bother) with several raking long passes, and despite the messy first half settled down fairly well as the game progressed. Still not his finest game in defence, and he moved into midfield with five minutes left.

For those of you hoping for a couple of notes on Eliaquim Mangala, I'll have to disappoint you -- the Porto defender remained on the bench all match. Another rumoured Chelsea transfer target was in action, however, with Hulk starting on the right. He showed up in spurts, but there wasn't a whole lot to get excited about.

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