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Brazil turn to boys in blue

Chelsea's Brazilian star Willian celebrates a goal with clubmate Fernando Torres (Pic: Peter Byrne/PA Wire) Chelsea's Brazilian star Willian celebrates a goal with clubmate Fernando Torres (Pic: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

Paul Lagan
Thursday, June 12, 2014
9:00 AM

Chelsea players set to feature for hosts

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Chelsea's Ramires on international duty for Brazil (pic: Neal Simpson/EMPICS)Chelsea's Ramires on international duty for Brazil (pic: Neal Simpson/EMPICS)

West Ham, every four years just before the World Cup, will bleat on about how they won the World Cup for England in 1966.

Yeah, yeah, they had Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters and Bobby Moore, and the first two got the goals in the final against West Germany, but boys, that was 48 years ago, let it go.

Now having said that, there is every chance that, come the end of July, Chelsea fans will justifiably claim that they won this year’s World Cup.

In the Brazil squad and playing on home soil at this summer’s tournament will be Oscar, Ramires, Willian and the Paris-bound David Luiz.

In truth, last season, based on their performances for Chelsea, the jury has to be out on all four. None of them uprooted any trees, and none of them seemed truly focused on the job in hand.

Now, as we all know, Luiz will join Paris Saint Germain after the World Cup.

Luiz became a conflicted man last term, and Chelsea will happily use the 50 million euros they receive to fund additional purchases.

From around January time, overtures from Spain, in particular Barcelona, distracted the defender. From being a happy chappie, who would willingly converse with me in mixed zones up and down the country - he became sullen and uncooperative.

It got to the stage where he would prefer to speak to foreign media - Portuguese-speaking mainly - or maybe he just got fed up talking to me.

I think, to be fair he got cheesed off with questions lobbed at him about moving from SW6.

Will he be missed at Stamford Bridge? I don’t think so. Had Rafa Benitez remained in charge, then John Terry would surely have been offloaded last year and Luiz would have cemented the centre-back berth he desperately craved.

Luiz was used in midfield many times as a consequence and that was not doing his World Cup prospects any good.

He considered himself a centre-back, but with Jose Mourinho at the helm at Chelsea, he knew he would always play second fiddle to Terry and Gary Cahill.

So something had to change and Paris will give him what he craves. So it’s ‘thanks, David - you were more of a hit than a miss, but those misses cost us dearly - bye.’

Of all our Brazilian boys, the pressure of the World Cup was felt more acutely on the slim shoulders of Oscar.

A Brazilian No10 in its truest sense, Oscar was more cold than hot for Chelsea last season. He still yielded 11 goals in his 47 appearances, which is not a bad return, but only three of them came after the turn of the year - the brace against Arsenal in the 6-0 thumping of the Gooners being the standout performance.

That lack of goals in 2014 most definitely contributed to Chelsea’s inability to kill off teams which would have secured them precious points they subsequently lost.

With the strikers under-performing, it was up to Oscar to step up to the plate - ufortunately World Cup-itis consumed the kid, much to Mourinho’s chagrin.

It got to the point that in the last six weeks of the season, Oscar was not happy about playing for Chelsea at all for fear of getting injured and missing the South America summer showpiece.

I won’t have a word said against Willian however. Latitude is always given to first-season players from abroad. His first game for the Blues was a horror - the Champions League home defeat against Basle in September.

However his first league start saw a corker of a goal from him at Carrow Road - the sort of goal Mourinho was crying out for.

At £32m from Russian side Anzhi, in August, Willian, 25, was an expensive replacement for ineffectual Victor Moses, but the lad works so hard for the team, he listens to Mourinho, understand team orders and carries them out - he is destined to be the Brazilian of choice for most Chelsea fans.

Chelsea has seen diminishing returns from Ramires in the past three seasons. Ignoring first-season syndrome, the midfielder/wide man hit 12 goals in 51 games in 2011/12. This went down to eight goals in 63 games and four in 46 appearances last season.

Great goals, like the Champions League semi-final chipped effort against Barcelona in the Nou Camp 2012 will, for some fans make him a Chelsea legend, but for me, and for some within the hallowed portals of Stamford Bridge, Ramires has peaked as a Chelsea player.

Having said all that about our generally un-focused Brazilians, they are expected to shine in Brazil.

The pressure of missing the competition certainly weighted heavily on Oscar, Luiz and Ramires. Willian, I suspect is just happy to be involved. So come next season, there is every chance we can say that Chelsea players won the World Cup - just a shame it won’t be for England.

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