Although Willian has played a key role for Antonio Conte’s Chelsea this season, the Brazilian midfielder has yet to impress fans of his national team
Willian has had a lot of ups and downs over the past two years, and Brazil fans are already asking for alternatives in the national team. The 29-year-old has also been heavily criticized by Chelsea supporters who feel that the midfielder no longer has what it takes to maintain a spot in the starting eleven.
With the World Cup being less than six months away, Brazil boss Tite has been keeping up with the current form of the players on his radar. Chelsea winger Willian, has been one of the most criticized figures among Adenor Bacchi’s roster, but is the criticism justified?
Willian has displayed many weaknesses in recent times, but his number one flaw might well be his decision-making. The veteran seems clueless more often than not, whenever he approaches the final third and almost always manages to mess-up Chelsea’s counter-attacks, which usually generates large waves of criticism from club fans on social media – and rightly so.
The Brazilian is decent at exchanges, side to back passes and maintaining possession whenever you want the tempo of the game to remain slow, but it is his ability to be more effective in his offensive plays, that leaves a lot to be desired. Willian’s stats do not do him any favors, as he has scored just four goals and mustered four assists in a total of 25 games across all competitions for the Blues this season – and they are usually not against heavyweight opposition, but rather against the likes of Qarabag and Huddersfield.
On the other hand, Willian seems to be a better fit in Tite’s tactical scheme. The Brazil manager relies on him as Philippe Coutinho’s number one alternative, and in fairness, the Chelsea-man has not been too bad in this function. However, would you trust him in games against top oppositions like Germany, or would the fans rather exploit other options such as Douglas Costa, Malcom et al?
Carlos Dunga’s mistake in World Cup 2010, was relying on a bench that was not able to provide the addition for the decisive moments. In the quarter final against Holland, the tactician found himself left with the likes of Julio Baptista and Grafite, when his team was desperate for an equalizer against the Dutch. If Tite wants to avoid repeating the same mistakes, he should not solely rely on Willian’s international experience, but has to keep-up with the current form of all his eligible options.
Antonio Conte clearly does not rely on the Brazilian as a starting option in the, so-called, big games. If he is not good enough to make the difference at club level, chances are he isn’t too likely to set the world alight, in Russia. But then again, Chelsea and Brazil have two different systems, and as long as Willian has the confidence of Tite, then he will continue to be an impact sub, at worse.
Willian remains an experienced player who can operate on both flanks whenever needed. He should not be relied upon to start in the decisive stages of the World Cup, but he has what it takes to be a luxury sub who comes on and helps the national team in specific type of games.