TERESOPOLIS, Brazil – Everybody knows Neymar is in charge of Brazil's attack at the World Cup. Now it's also clear that Oscar is the man commanding the midfield.
Neymar was voted man of the match in the opener against Croatia, but Oscar also received a lot of the praise for his performance, helping erase lingering doubts about who should be playing in the middle for Brazil.
As the hosts prepare to face Mexico in its second Group A match, most people have stopped questioning whether Oscar should be in the lineup, as they were before Brazil made its World Cup debut.
Oscar silenced his critics by scoring a goal and helping set up another in Thursday's 3-1 win over Croatia in the opener in Sao Paulo.
“Neymar got man of the match, but if there was a second award it should go to Oscar,” Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said after the game. “He was fantastic and that's the kind of player he is. I have always believed in him.”
Oscar said he was never worried about being benched and knew from the beginning that Scolari trusted him.
“I've have always known that Felipao has trust in me, that's not new,” he said, using Scolari's nickname. “And I showed on the field that he can keep trusting me. I just have to keep playing as hard as I can to help Brazil get the victories.”
Oscar stole a ball near midfield to set up Neymar's first goal on Thursday, then found the net with a toe poke from outside the area in a breakaway in second-half injury time.
Oscar had not being playing well before the World Cup, however. He struggled especially in the team's final warm-up match before the World Cup, prompting talks about him possibly losing his spot to Chelsea teammate Willian, who had been training well during Brazil's preparations.
“We all know that the national team has good players who can get in at any time,” Oscar said. “It's not only Willian who can get in, anybody can get in and play well.”
Scolari has been saying that Oscar is a key piece in Brazil's midfield. He plays in front of defensive midfielders Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho and is the man directly responsible for feeding balls to Neymar, Fred and Hulk in Brazil's attack.
“I can play in any position,” said Oscar, who recently had to leave Brazil's training camp for the birth of his daughter. “It doesn't really matter to me where I play, I just want to help Brazil win this title.” – Sapa-AP