Lucas Piazon keeps cool under pressure
© EFE

With Brazil trailing 3-2 deep into injury time of their final Group F game against Côte d’Ivoire at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011, a ball over the top looked to be beyond the reach of Lucas Piazon. Yet the young forward managed to stick out a foot and prevent the ball from crossing the goal line before turning, shifting it from his left to his right foot and, getting his head up, playing a pinpoint pass into the path of the onrushing Adryan. Showing equally admirable composure, the Flamengo starlet sent Ivorian keeper Yored Konate the wrong way with a slotted finish into the bottom corner with virtually the last kick of the game.

Without Piazon’s contribution, the goal would clearly not have come about, the 17-year-old front-runner’s vision and composure belying his tender years. Indeed, it takes a special player to keep his head at his first FIFA tournament, especially with his team behind at such a late stage. “Piazon is an intelligent player, he’s able to control the ball and see the whole pitch in the same instant,” says coach Emerson Avila of the Sao Paulo starlet. “It was right at the death and he gave Adryan the opportunity to score. He’s a cool, calm player. To tell you the truth, he could do with being a bit less cool sometimes!”

Fresh in the mind
Shortly after the game, when speaking to FIFA.com at the Estadio Guadalajara, Piazon was able to recall the entire move with remarkable precision. “First of all I didn’t even think I’d get the ball, because Adryan touched it to me and one of their lads came in for the tackle, and I thought he was going to get it,” said Piazon, who also grabbed his side’s opener against the Ivorians.

“But then, when I saw the loose ball had fallen to me, I realised it was now or never. I dribbled past the first guy and the ball got away from me a bit, but I managed to touch it to Wallace, who sent a nice pass over the top for me. The ball was zipping away and there was a defender chasing me, plus I didn’t think I had anyone to pass to in the area. But once I trapped the ball I could see Adryan making a run, so I just rolled it into his path and he got his shot away.”

He’s a cool, calm player. To tell you the truth, he could do with being a bit less cool sometimes! 
Brazil coach Emerson Avila on Lucas Piazon

Showing just how quickly his mind works when out on the field, the young Brazilian reveals that an incident from the team’s 1-0 Group F win against Australia flashed into his head just prior to Adryan’s vital strike. “At the time it reminded me of a similar move in the match against Australia. The ball was cut back to him and he got his shot away then too, but it was blocked by a defender. So this time I thought ‘oh no, not again’, but the ball slowly rolled into the net.”

Who is Lucas Piazon?
Blessed with first-class movement both on and off the ball, Piazon also boasts a good touch and an unselfish attitude towards the game. The more Brazil push forward and flood attacking areas with players, the more opportunities the youngster has to play the one-twos and triangular combinations that are key to his game.

It was the player’s movement that came to the fore for his eighth-minute goal against Côte d’Ivoire. Piazon ran onto a perfectly weighted through-pass from his club-mate and fellow forward Ademilson, before knocking the ball past the onrushing keeper with his left foot, thus opening his personal account here at Mexico 2011. “He’s a nice lad. He’ll do a good job for Sao Paulo whenever he’s called upon and he’ll do the same next year at Chelsea,” added coach Avila, referring to Piazon’s pre-contract agreement to join the London-based Blues in January 2012.

Not the quickest or the strongest of players, on the evidence of his performances here at Mexico 2011, it is his intelligence that sets him apart. The Stamford Bridge faithful would also be wise to forget any ‘New Kaka’ labels placed on his head, despite the similarities in looks and build, given Piazon’s preference for working the flanks rather than the centre, and in a more advanced position than the Real Madrid man.

And should Brazil find themselves trailing late on against Round of 16 opponents Ecuador on 29 June, fans of A Verde e Amarelo ought not despair. Providing Lucas Piazon can get on the ball that is...