Gianluigi Buffon has eternally hated conceding goals. Yet such was the splendour of one he conceded two months ago that, for the first time ever, the veteran Juventus goalkeeper admitted he was “proud to have been a part of it”.
Its scorer had produced an exquisite flick, pirouetted instantly, and employed curl and unerring accuracy to dispatch the ball in the top corner. His name was Oscar. It was his UEFA Champions League debut.
The attacking midfielder’s quick adaptation to the prestigious competition mirrored his quick adaptation to life at Stamford Bridge following a big-money summer move from Internacional. Here, the 21-year-old, who has scored four goals and registered six assists in ten senior Brazil internationals this year, chats to FIFA.com about settling in at Chelsea, playing alongside Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, and the Blues’ hopes of winning the Premier League and FIFA Club World Cup.
FIFA.com: Oscar, there were various clubs interested in signing you before you moved to Stamford Bridge. Why did you choose Chelsea?
Oscar: Chelsea were the best fit for me. They were the champions of Europe, playing in the Premier League, which is maybe the best league in the world. Chelsea also showed me they have a lot of ambition, and I knew it was the right club for me. I want to win the biggest titles in the world and I feel I can do it here. I’m very happy I joined Chelsea.
English football is very different to the Brazilian game, but you’ve adapted very quickly to it and have already become an important player for Chelsea. Did you expect this?
There’s obviously a process of adaptation, but I’m very pleased with how I’ve settled in. I feel very comfortable playing in this system and I have developed a good understanding with my team-mates. But I think me settling in so quickly is because Chelsea have adapted to my style. Last season they played a different way, but with me and Eden coming in to join Juan, I think they’ve modified the way they play and become more attacking. We get the ball down and knock it about more now, which, being Brazilian, I really enjoy. But I want to keep improving as a player.
How do you enjoy playing with Hazard and Mata?
I enjoy it a lot. They’re both superb players, among the best in the Premier League. It’s always easier to play with players who are not only great but also intelligent. I think we link up well and that our styles complement each other. I think we give the supporters a good deal of entertainment.
The Chelsea fans have really taken to you. How has this made you feel?
Everyone really likes me, and this is very pleasing. The Chelsea supporters are great, very vocal. Wherever we play you can always hear them, and this is very encouraging.
What’s the atmosphere like at the club? Do you spend more time with the Brazilian players?
There’s a realy good atmosphere at the club. I get along great with everybody, but I’m still getting to grips with the language, so I obviously spend more time with the Brazilians. We get on really well, we’re always having a laugh.
Chelsea are in what appears to be a three-way battle for the Premier League title. Do you consider Manchester City or Manchester United to be your biggest rival for the trophy?
Both. City have a lot of excellent players and are the reigning champions, and they’ve become very adept at grinding out results. But Manchester United have been there and done it time and time again. They’re both excellent teams. However, I’m confident Chelsea will do it. We’ve got a different team to last season, so we’re in a transitional period. I think as the season goes on, we’ll get more used to playing together and play better as a result.
You’ve got the FIFA Club World Cup in December too. How important is that to Chelsea?
It’s very important; it gives you the chance to say you’re the champions of the world. Barcelona took it very seriously last year and we’ll do the same. But it won’t be easy. I know Corinthians well and they’re a very strong side, well organised. And they will be desperate to win the World Cup – it’s so important in South America. But we’ll be fully prepared for all our opponents.
You and Corinthians midfielder Paulinho are both in the Brazil squad. Do you wind each other up about a possible meeting in the FIFA Club World Cup final?
Yeah, we have pulling each other’s leg every time we’ve been in the Seleção! It’s all in good fun though. I respect Paulinho as a footballer, he’s a very good player, but if we meet at the Club World Cup I will be doing everything I can to beat him.