Willian can continue to recreate Blues brilliance for Brazil
With Brazil’s array of world-class attackers, hard-working Chelsea winger Willian may not be the most immediately impressive name to jump off their armoury roster. Yet, after another exciting recent display for the Blues, complete with a now trademark set-piece strike, the wideman continues to press his claim to be an integral piece in Dunga’s puzzle.
The Samba Boys have, for some time now, been heavily reliant upon star forward Neymar for goals. While previous generations were bursting with attacking talent queuing up to score, this current crop seem little more than foils for, and supply lines to, the main man.
Samba style but where is substance?
A Premier League presence in the Brazil setup is nothing new. Liverpool pair Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino are conductors in chief for their country, while a consistent Chelsea contingent including Willian are regulars when fit.
Brazil are experiencing a competitive football campaign en route to reaching a major tournament for the first time since 2009, having hosted the last World Cup where they finished fourth under Big Phil Scolari.
After losing their first of 18 gruelling games that make up the South American qualifying super group to Copa America champions Chile, the Samba Boys fared slightly better when facing bitter rivals Argentina – without talisman Lionel Messi – in Buenos Aires, managing a 1-1 draw on enemy soil. Wins against Venezuela and Peru thereafter allowed Brazil to climb to third in the standings.
Absence of attacking alternatives
Despite the presence of Zenit St Petersburg’s outstanding physical specimen Hulk and Douglas Costa, who like Blues boy Willian has made a big step up from Shakhtar Donetsk into a top European league with Bayern Munich, the Brazil roster lacks depth.
Conductor Kaka, now of Orlando City, remains involved, despite his best years being way behind him, while 35-year-old Santos veteran Ricardo Oliveira takes up the other striking squad berth. Some of Dunga’s decisions reek of short-term thinking.
Recent Brazil recruits given short-shrift include Lazio forward Felipe Anderson, Benfica bright hope Anderson Talisca and AC Milan summer signing Luiz Adriano, who shared a home with Willian and Hulk at Shakhtar, with all three potential game-changing talents omitted.
So, can Willian be the one to step up to supply in canary yellow and do the Samba shirt proud? Current Chelsea form suggests so, as the underrated attacker now boasts a brilliant six goals from 12 dead ball attempts for club and country this campaign.
Watch Willian’s recent amazing effort against Maccabi Tel Aviv:
Chelsea contingent are Brazil’s past, present and future
Clubmate Oscar is an international mainstay when fit, as are departed Blues defensive duo David Luiz (sold for a staggering sum to PSG in the summer of 2014) and Filipe Luis – now back at Atletico Madrid.
Dunga cannot decide if the rashness of Ramires is too close to home with the rugged midfielder reminiscent of the Brazil boss in his pomp, and he is in and out of squad selections as a result.
Might we also see attacking prodigy Kenedy come of age and be integrated into the senior Samba Boys setup, should his Stamford Bridge exploits re-energise Jose Mourinho’s men? Let’s not forget Diego Costa earned two Brazil caps before switching international allegiance to Spain.
Willian no longer ignored
Previously far from the first name on even struggling Stamford Bridge side Chelsea’s teamsheet, despite being a typical, toiling Mourinho-style attacker, Willian has worked his way into regular first-team reckoning again.
One of few from the Blues forward line to come out with any credit of late, Willian has also illustrated the winning-mentality and ability to change matches, which initially forced the capital club to challenge Tottenham for his reported £30m signature.
Far from just a water-carrier on the wing for that price, Willian is wise on the ball and rarely puts in a poor shift, with his stamina, tactical intelligence and consistency impressive, though perhaps not in the mould of a traditional Samba Boy.
There has been a notable transition of late, however, with Willian developing to become a more decisive player after spending time on the Blues’ bench.
View Willian’s dramatic winner versus Dynamo Kiev:
Several ferocious free-kicks, all spectacular and largely decisive, hint at the Sanba flair older punters will remember seeing from Roberto Carlos at his Real Madrid and Brazil best.
His tally of 13 strikes and 15 assists in over 100 outings across all competitions for Chelsea, with a comparable six in 30 Samba Boys caps, understandably underwhelms for any player in attack.
A fixture in Dunga’s sides so far, Willian has already produced potent performances in the slog that is the South American qualifiers, though. His brace against Venezuela in a 3-1 home win hints at how key the 27-year-old can be for his country.
Should Willian continue to add more end product for Coral’s 9/1 2018 World Cup chances Brazil, Dunga has a hell of player on his hands.
Finally, check out this curling cracker against Southampton:
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