Brazil’s attempt to erase the terrible memories of last summer’s World Cup just got that much tougher. Oscar, who picked up an injury in Chelsea training, won’t play in the 2015 Copa América, set to kick off in June.
The World Cup collapse isn’t going to be forgotten, but a successful Copa América could at least change the focus of the conversation from the ugly past to the promising future. A rosy future of Neymar, flanked by Willan, Douglas Costa and Roberto Firmino. But also, principally, Oscar. The brilliant, if diminutive, playmaker who brings calm and possession to a midfield that can too often lose control of the match.
Brazil won’t have that this summer. The Seleção will need to find that midfield calm from somewhere else and hope that the match doesn’t get away from them. That it doesn’t become an up-and-down, high paced mess of a match that turns the result into a coin flip. With Brazil’s skill, a coin flip seems unnecessary, but that may be what it gets without Oscar.
The good news (bad news?) is that Dunga is in charge now. That team from last summer that threw players forward? It’s gone. It’s dead, and so is all of its entertaining, thrilling glory. Brazil won’t have eight players within 20 yards of the goal, or counterattack with its defenders in complete oblivion to the possibility of being countered back against. That isn’t what Dunga does. He is, in every sense, pragmatic. Some might also call it boring, but at least that will allow squad to mitigate Oscar’s absence better.
Dunga will almost assuredly throw an extra central midfielder on to replace Oscar, but it won’t be one in the same mold. It will be a mediocre midfielder, who isn’t particularly good going forward, or even a bulldozer. He’ll just exist, stand in the right places and maybe even run a lot. And hey, Luiz Gustavo is on the roster.
A lot will be asked of Brazil at Copa América. To erase the bitter memories of last summer’s World Cup. To ensure Argentina doesn’t go further. To look like the best team in South America. And now, Brazil has to do it without Oscar. At least it has the right manager for the job, as unexciting as he may be.