Photo: Oscar celebrates his goal (EFE/Press Association image)
Before the start of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, poster boy Neymar was being touted as the one to bring glory to the soccer mad country that would be hosting the “greatest show on earth” for the second time in their history.
The only country to have participated in every FIFA World Cup, Brazil has won the trophy a total of five times, which is more than any other participating nation. Their quest to win it for a record sixth time was dealt a severe blow in the quarter-finals against Colombia when Neymar was injured late in the game, following a challenge from Camilio Zuniga. A knee to the back has left Neymar wearing a back brace and ruled out of the rest of the tournament due to spinal injuries received during the tackle.
In addition to the loss of their most creative midfielder, Brazil must also cope without their leader and Trojan at the back, Thiago Silva who was suspended for the semi-final after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament in the same game. While replacing Silva simply means bringing in Bayern Munich centre half Dante, Big Phil Scolari knows that the loss of Neymar is a much bigger blow and his replacement will not be as seamless.
There is no one coming off the bench that can replace the Barcelona man so it will be left up to the Chelsea midfielder, Oscar to take over the creative role, if his team is to progress to the showpiece final on Sunday. In the opening game of the World Cup when Brazil defeated Croatia 3-1 it was Oscar who starred the show despite the brace from Neymar, and he will need a repeat of that performance if the five-time winners are to remain in contention for a chance to lift the trophy in the Maracana.
After a brilliant first game Oscar has gone quiet, leaving Neymar to do the bulk of the work in attack. While his performance against Colombia was markedly better than his previous three games he will need to take the match by the scruff of the neck against a German team that has overcome all the odds to reach this far. Illness and injuries have not prevented the Joachim Loew coached team from beating all before them and they will not be overawed by the partisan home crowd. So it will come down to a matter of will, something all German teams are known for.
With the hopes of a nation and millions of fans worldwide now resting on his shoulders, Oscar must deliver and add to his single goal tally on the penultimate stage, to give his team a chance to do the ” Samba” on Sunday July 13th.