The rules were simple: 5 bloggers, 4 rounds, snake draft. David picked first, then Yatco, Graham, André, and Rohaan. 20 goals in total.
All goals eligible except Didier Drogba’s equalizer in the 2012 Champions League final. Too obvious.
In reverse order, these are our favorite, greatest, bestest (however each of us interpreted the rules) Chelsea goals. You will probably disagree, but you’re probably wrong.
Oscar vs. Juventus, 2012
It was July 25, 2012. A certain attacking midfielder, who looked more like a child than a professional footballer, was snapped up by Chelsea from Internacional in what was a record transfer from the Brazilian Série A. The 20-year-old, who had turned every head at the U20 World Cup the previous summer, had the world at his feet and glistening ambition in his eyes as he sought to fulfill his European dreams.
Two months later, on September 19, 2012, he was handed his Champions League debut. Playing on the left wing for the defending Champions of Europe (similarly fresh-faced Eden Hazard central, Ramires on the right), he was facing the behemoths of Italian football, Juventus.
Chelsea may have been at home, but were not the favorites. The Old Lady were then managed by future Blues boss Antonio Conte — who, incidentally, would oversee the departure of said professional superchild footballer five years later. Juve’s centre back trio of Bonucci, Barzagli and Chiellini were revered as the one of the best defensive lineups of the 21st century. And behind them, between the posts, stood the legendary Gianluigi Buffon himself. It was rare that they’d concede a goal, let alone two.
Meanwhile, Chelsea were at the start of the transition from the Old Guard, who had finally painted the most miraculous masterpiece with Victory in Munich. Didier Drogba had left (for the first time), and the likes of Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Petr Čech, Mikel, and John Terry were soon to follow.
Juventus were well-drilled beyond the shadow of a doubt. But they could not foresee what the man who would be later named as the key to Mourinho Mk.II’s project (albeit unsuccessfully) would do. He shone brightest under the lights at Stamford Bridge, in his first start for the club. He glided through the Bianconeri’s defense like knife through butter, with flicks and tricks and flair and the indefatigable verve and confidence of youth.
It was of course he who opened the scoring in the game, a deflected long shot that found the back of the net in the 31st minute. Some might call it lucky.
No one called the next one lucky.
Just 120 seconds later, the precocious youngster from across the Atlantic sent Andrea Pirlo and Leonardo Bonucci packing with one touch, then, a full 180 later, curled a most magnificent, un-save-able shot into the top corner. Buffon could do nothing but sink to his knees and stare.
He had witnessed magic.
We had all just witnessed magic.
Oscar had arrived.
This goal can be divided into three segments, each of which are extraordinary feats in their own right:
- creating space to receive a pass against a defense that never lets you out of their sight
- changing direction on a dime, in an instant
- putting the ball on a postage stamp in the top corner
The occasion made it all the more special.
Gianluigi Buffon on Oscar: "I won’t say it’s nice to concede, but it’s nice to be a part of a great goal like that. Compliments to him."— Luca Persico (@LucaMBPersico) September 19, 2012
Chelsea head coach Roberto Di Matteo, whose own magic would run out barely two months later, was rightfully pleased, even though Juventus did come back to draw 2-2 on this night.
“Oscar was perfect tonight. We were waiting for the right game to put him in and he did a great job tactically and scored two goals; his second was fantastic. He played a big role for us today.
“He’s a big talent. We shouldn’t forget he’s still a young man, but he’s already established with the Brazil national team, which is very difficult. We are very lucky to have him on our team.”
-Roberto Di Matteo; source: UEFA.com
Of course, Oscar didn’t just score goals in that match; he was a nuisance all night long. He dribbled and crossed, defended and created. Here are his full match highlights:
In my heart of hearts, I have always had a special affinity for Oscar.
He arrived at Stamford Bridge around the same time I started following Chelsea closely, and brought a certain flair to the team with his youthful exuberance. For a period of time, and rightfully so, we believed that he would be the one destined to take over from Juan Mata as Chelsea’s main man.
Reminiscing now makes me a little sad and mightily disappointed about how it all turned out. Of course, there were so many “ifs and buts” involved including during that final half-season — what if Conte played with a 3-5-2 instead of a 3-4-3 in 2016-17; what if Oscar rejected the move to China to stay a little while longer — but in the end, it was probably Oscar himself who never quite progressed as much as everyone expected him to, from the initial promise that he had shown.
Maybe someday the prodigal son will return, even if just to add some experience to this youthful squad. Maybe someday, he will take a backroom role at the club as an ambassador.
Until that time, I will always remember Oscar as the David who defeated a Goliath, as a young boy who turned into a man in front of our eyes, and as a player who brought some magic from Brazil to the Bridge.
WAGNH’s Best and Most Beautifulest Chelsea Goals Draft 2020:
No. 16: Oscar vs Juventus, 2012