Hulk is Brazil’s best goal-scoring option and the man who will need to step up

8 July-2014, Ashish Magotra/FP: It has to begin with this: Hulk has had more shots (13) than any other player to have failed to score in World Cup 2014. It the eyes of some, it might paint him in a not so very good light. But in the absence of Neymar, he is their best goal-scoring option and the man who will need to step up — in other words, like his superhero namesake, he will need to get angry.

Hulk is Brazil’s best goal-scoring option and the man who will need to step up

Hulk is Brazil's best goal-scoring option and the man who will need to step up
The origins of Hulk’s nickname were somewhat muddled until recently — some thought he got it while he was playing for Tokyo Verdy in the J League; others thought it was a result of that physique which would be more at home on the rugby field than in football.
But Hulk, who now plays for Zenit St Petersburg, revealed: “This nickname was given me as a child. I loved comic book characters and when I played my father began to say ‘go Hulk’. From that time it never changed.”

Still, the name on it’s own paints a picture of an uncontrollable monster; and perhaps Hulk will need to channel the inner rage of his comic namesake against the mighty German machine. Every aspect of this German team seems controlled; mechanical; typical — so much so that they almost seem like a team devoid of joy.
After the injury knocked Neymar out of the World, Brazil skipper Thiago Silva said: “We have proposed to win the World Cup for Neymar because of the injury he suffered. This moment could mark the start of a revolution for us. He hopes and expects a lot from this group, and this could unite us, it could give us more determination to win.”
Hulk has to be at the head of this revolution which begins at Belo Horizonte. To win matches, Brazil need to score goals. Fred hasn’t looked like the man to do that — it has to be Hulk. Oscar will give him support.
It makes sense to shift Hulk back to the right flank. Let him cut in — a la Robben — and then fire away with that powerful left foot. A lot of people seem to believe that Hulk is all about power but he has enough trickery and he has been finding some rhythm in Brazil’s last two games.
In his stints at Europe, he has been a goalscorer and a provider for Porto. In 169 games for the Portuguese giants, he scored 78 goals but also provided 60 assists. For Zenit, in 64 goals — he has 32 goals and 22 assists. That isn’t Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo territory but it is damn good.
Hulk started off slowly in Europe after being transferred from Tokyo Verde but after finding his rhythm in the 2010-11 season for Porto, he hasn’t looked back.
Here’s his record in Europe:

13-14 for Zenit: 34 matches, 21 goals, 13 assists
12-13 for Zenit: 33 matches, 13 goals, 9 assists
11-12 for Porto: 39 matches, 21 goals, 14 assists
10-11 for Porto: 53 matches, 36 goals, 26 assists
09-10 for Porto: 31 matches, 10 goals, 11 assists
08-09 for Porto: 43 matches, 9 goals, 9 assists

There is another reason why Hulk has to be the man and that goes beyond goals. After Porto won the Europa League in 2011, the big clubs came hunting. Andre Villas-Boas went to Chelsea and Radamel Falcao felt €40m was enough of a reason to move to Atlético Madrid. The departures put Porto on the brink of a break up. But Hulk, who was captain then, got the squad together and helped Porto finish as the champions.
He has never been one to say too much and he chose to lead by example. And that is what he needs to do for Brazil against Germany.
As a child growing up in the Jose Pinheiro, a rough neighbourhood in Brazil, Hulk would play football tournaments all day because the winners would get ice cream. But now, the stakes are much higher. This is about the pride of a nation; about winning the World Cup.
There’s no better time for him to find his inner superhero.