As the title-deciding game between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC draws near, we take a look at two important protagonists who act as the creative force for these two rivals – Coutinho and Oscar.

Silky touches, smooth dribbling, easy on the eye and lethal prowess on the attacking front are some of the qualities usually associated with Brazilian flair players. Coutinho and Oscar have done just that and have amazed the Premier League audiences with their crafty skills ever since they turned out for their clubs vying for top spot in the premiership this season.

Oscar: Tired end to a long season

Chelsea got themselves a gem of a player when they signed Oscar from Internacional at the start of last season. The Brazilian made a blistering start to his Chelsea career with two stunning goals against Juventus in the Champions League last season and has grown from strength to strength ever since that fine start.

Mourinho has preferred to play Oscar as his first choice in the much coveted “number 10 role” and Oscar has done very well to establish himself as first choice despite the presence of a wealth of attacking midfielders at Stamford  Bridge. He was in such good form that Mourinho decided to sell one of his star midfielders in Juan Mata to a rival team. It can be said that fatigue has crept into Oscar`s system after playing relentless football from 2012 Olympic Games and going on into the 2013 Confederations Cup, totalling 64 appearances for Chelsea last season, and a further 46 appearances in all competitions this season.

Oscar has been playing just off the striker with Willian and Hazard supporting him on either flank. The Brazilian is the kind of player who is not shy of doing his defensive duties when his team has lost possession. This attribute has naturally helped his team but it has tended to act against Chelsea at times when Oscar has dropped too deep to compensate for his tracking back. This has resulted in Chelsea missing his quality in the final third, as you compulsorily need your best attacking players higher up the field. The indifferent form of Chelsea`s strikers has also had an impact on Oscar`s game as they have lacked the quality to build on the creative play conjured up by the Brazilian.

The disappointing loss to Sunderland at home not only had a crushing blow on Chelsea`s title hopes, but also highlighted Oscar`s woes.

Oscar had a frustrating game against Sunderland

Oscar had a frustrating game against Sunderland

The absence of Hazard, who was out injured, put the onus on the  Brazilian to deliver in the final third but was frustrated despite spending most of his time in the final third of Sunderland`s half of the pitch and was eventually brought off in the 58th minute.

Oscar probably needs to play a free role for him to contribute much more in the attacking front.  Scolari tends to play him in the number 10 role in the 4-2-1-3 formation. With two defensive minded midfielders in Fernandinho and Paulinho, who are more than happy  to  track back and do the dirty work of making tackles and winning back possession , Oscar can happily go about his job of weaving his magic and creating chances for the three pacy forwards in Hulk, Neymar and Fred who play in front of him. It will be interesting to see how Oscar performs for the Pentacampeões in the World Cup come June. But first, the talented Brazilian`s focus would be on the two high voltage games against Liverpool and Atletico Madrid in the next few days, which would surely define Chelsea`s season.

Coutinho: Too good to be ignored by Scolari?

After seeing the likes of Voronin and Joe Cole, Liverpool fans have always drooled at the

Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho | Liverpool vs Cardiff City - Team News, Tactics, Line-ups And Prediction

Coutinho- Liverpool`s diamond

prospect of a crafty number 10 and they had every reason to be cheerful when Phillipe Coutinho signed for the Anfield club from Inter Milan in January last year. The little Brazilian has never looked back ever since and has played an instrumental role in Liverpool`s resurgence for the past one and a half seasons.

A low centre of gravity enables the Brazilian to have amazing close control and he slips away from the defenders with relative ease. Coutinho`s  dribbling abilities make for very good viewing and his ability to pick a through ball and a decisive pass in the final third is sensational to say the least. The compliment from his manager that “What Phillipe does with the football, you can’t learn. You’re born with it.” shows how important Coutinho is to the Liverpool set up and it is safe to say that the likes of Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling would have found it tough to decimate opposition defences in the absence of Coutinho.

Coutinho is often played just behind the striker in the number 10 position but is not at all hesitant to float around and shuffle across to either flank to help his team mates. He often drops deep to pick up the ball and build an attack. The intelligent movement of Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling has helped Coutinho to do his job with no fuss whatsoever. The fact that the front four keep switching positions from time to time has caused a big headache to opposition defenders.

The diamond formation has brought the best out of Coutinho and Sterling as their movement and neat passing has had the opposition defences in a tangle. The game against Manchester City showed exactly that and it was arguably Coutinho`s best performance in a Liverpool shirt this season. The Brazilian started off on the left hand side and was often seen switching positions with Sterling, who was playing at the tip of the diamond.  After a blistering start in the first half, Liverpool almost threw the game away at 2-2 when Coutinho, who has been criticized for his poor finishing this season, capitalized on Kompany`s mistake to put Liverpool ahead. The game was an epitome of Coutinho`s character and his desire to win was seen in the shift he put in for the 90 minutes before being brought off. Coutinho would be hoping to put one final shift in for the last three games of the season to bring the title back to Merseyside after a 24 year hiatus.

Coutinho has been out of the reckoning in national colors for quite some time now (his only appearance for Brazil was way back in 2010) and it is baffling to see why Scolari has been ignoring him for the national set up after a brilliant season. The game against Chelsea is the perfect platform for Coutinho to outshine his Brazilian colleagues in Willian and Oscar and heap more pressure on Scolari to consider him for the World cup on home soil.

Given below is a statistical comparison of the two Brazilians in the Premiership this season.

Oscar

Coutinho

Appearances

32

30

Goals

8

5

Assists

2

7

Minutes per Goal

256.6

440.2

Passes Completed

1192

1352

Chances created

46

58

Shooting Accuracy

46%

38.5%

Recoveries

121

147

Coutinho probably edges out Oscar in terms of statistics but the fact that Oscar has had to play much more games including the Champions League nights tilts the scales in favor of him. But one thing is for sure, the prospect of facing Coutinho and Oscar in the same team will strike fear among opposition defences. Ultimately, it is all in Big Phil`s hands.