Neymar's absence means it's time for Douglas Costa to shine for Brazil
The last time Brazil touched down on American shores for a major tournament, they left California with the 1994 World Cup trophy. Douglas Costa was just three years old then, but this summer, the Bayern Munich midfielder has the chance to lead Brazil to a Copa America Centenario title and become a bonafide star in the process.
Douglas Costa signed for Shakhtar Donetsk in 2010 at just 20 years old, joining Mircea Lucescu's Brazilian outpost in the Ukraine's industrial heartland. After some electrifying performances for the Miners over five years, torching outside backs both domestically and in Europe, the explosive winger earned a move to Bayern Munich, linking up with Pep Guardiola and Co. for $33 million.
Out of the Ukrainian cold and under the spotlight with Bayern, Douglas Costa has become on of the world's most electrifying players.
Deployed on either wing, his scintillating pace and otherworldly trickery made fans of Die Roten forget why they even cared about Arjen Robben or Franck Ribery being injured. Costa was a key figure for the Bavarians, settling in immediately and scoring four goals and chipping in with nine assists as they rolled to yet another Bundesliga title. Despite going out in the Champions League semifinals to Atletico Madrid, Costa was a key figure in Bayern's deep run in the competition, adding two goals and three assists in his 11 matches. The 25-year-old from Sapucaia do Sul then sen Pep Guardiola off in style, stepping up to net the match-winning penalty and complete a domestic double as Bayern beat bitter rivals Dortmund 4-3 on penalties in the German Cup.
Fresh off a successful debut season in Germany by any measure, Costa now joins a Brazil team in transition, missing their best player in Neymar, and with the ghosts of 2014 still to exorcise. With the team short on established star power and the powerful winger in sparkling form, Copa America Centenario is the perfect time for him to lay down a marker as Brazil's main man. He won't be doing it alone, as comic book hero Hulk and Liverpool star Coutinho look to figure heavily in the Selecao's attack, but Costa's natural dynamism and ability on the ball will surely see a Brazil side short on creativity lean heavily on him.
Guardiola trusted him this season, and Douglas Costa repaid that faith while wearing a Bayern Munich shirt. If Dunga and the rest of the Selecao do the same, Neymar's absence may not be felt as strongly as the expecting public assumes. And Brazil may have a new star.
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