COMMENTARY | Neymar is the biggest star and the man who wears the famous gold No. 10 shirt for Brazil, but does that shirt make him the central playmaker? The No. 10 is a sacred shirt that has traditionally been reserved for the primary playmaker at the heart of the attack. When a match hangs in the balance, the No. 10 warps the field and provides the breakthrough. Being Brazil's No. 10 with a World Cup on home soil is serious pressure thrust on 21-year-old Neymar.
In terms of public accountability, Neymar assumes full responsibility of the No. 10 shirt. On the pitch, however, Brazil has two No. 10s: Neymar and Oscar. Arguably, Oscar plays and fits the central playmaking role better than Neymar. However, manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has shifted back and forth between the two youngsters playing in the middle of the attack and on the attacking wing.
Both Oscar and Neymar are 21-years of age, and the Confederations Cup is a big test to see how the youngsters handle the pressures of playing competitive home matches for the Selecao . In their first examination, both embraced the pressure and thrived under it.
Against Japan, Neymar started centrally in the traditional No. 10 role and provided a spectacular volley goal only moments after kickoff. That spectacular goal would likely never have happened if Neymar was playing on the wing. Later in the match, Oscar moved central and provided a perfect pass for Brazil's third goal. Even before Neymar was substituted off, Oscar often found himself playing centrally in the second half.
On the pitch, playmaking responsibilities were shared, and Neymar tended to shift wider as the match progressed.
Even if Oscar shares Brazil's playmaking burden on the pitch, Neymar's responsibility off the field should not to be minimized. Neymar brought style and excitement back to a team that lacked a central identity for the past decade--about the time Ronaldo became "fat Ronaldo."
Whether it was Ronaldinho, Ronaldo late in his career, Kaka, or a host of other Brazilian stars, the country of Brazil has not had a lone standout player to applaud, adore, and deify for a significant stretch of time.
Neymar arrived to assume the role that trumps royalty, politicians, and dignitaries in Brazil. He wears the No. 10 for Brazil, and he provides the style and spark Brazilians have been craving for years. If Neymar appeared at any nightclub, he could skip the line and get the best table in the house without saying a word--for free. Oscar, on the other hand, would probably get carded and questioned about his age.
Oscar's pale prepubescent looking face, frail frame, and bony arms hardly make him a sex symbol. His trim haircut and hairless face reflect his clean play and silky smooth dribbling skills. Also, Oscar has incredible field vision for his age. On the pitch, he often orchestrates the attack from the middle, but off the pitch, Oscar lacks the commercial gravitas of Neymar.
The flash, style, and charisma of Brazil's No.10 rightfully falls on Neymar's back. When he walked over to take corner kicks against Japan, Neymar acknowledged the crowd and asked the crowd to acknowledge its team. He is a natural star who works the crowd. Oscar may play the perfect ball with a beautiful touch, but Neymar does the tricks, flicks, and scissor kicks that earn YouTube clicks.
Neymar's style often distract from his talents, but Neymar also has substance. He scores goals, he makes runs, and he passes. That is why Luiz Felipe Scolari pointedly pushed him to be the No. 10 on the pitch and pushed Oscar wide to the attacking wing against Japan.
So, Who Should Be Brazil's No. 10?At the moment, Oscar appears to be a better fit for the No. 10 role on the pitch. Neymar is a pacier and trickier player on the wing, while Oscar is a slightly better passer more aptly suited to play in the middle. Both players are expert dribblers and can play either role. However, Neymar's dribbling skills are best utilized when he is in full flight attacking from the wing and running around defenders. In contrast, Oscar's trickery is suited for finding a way out of the crowd and providing a pin point pass.
Ultimately, the best choice would be to continue interchanging the position and sharing the role rather than restricting and burdening either player with full playmaking responsibilities.
Off the pitch, Neymar is the undisputed star of the team. On the pitch, Oscar shares the responsibilities of the No. 10, and Neymar doesn't appear to be complaining.
Shahan Ahmed is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports. He is Director of European Football and Chief Editor for AccuScore, and he is providing Yahoo! regular 2013 Confederations Cup coverage for the duration of the tournament. You can interact with Shahan on Twitter @ShahanLA
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