Four years later, captain Thiago Silva is standing tall with Brazil again

Lucas Figueiredo/CBF/Divulgação
The PSG man was heavily criticised for his perceived lack of leadership four years ago, but is now playing a key role with the Selecao in Russia

GOAL ANALYSIS - Raisa Simplicio & Rupert Fryer

Thiago Silva sat alone, perched on a solitary ball, unable to look, overcome with emotion.

As his team-mates prepared for their penalty shootout with Chile, the tension proved too much for their captain in Belo Horizonte that afternoon.

The Selecao came through the Round of 16 clash thanks to Neymar’s penalty, edging one step closer to the promised land, to avenging the Maracanazo of 1950 by securing a long-awaited world title on home soil.

Thiago Silva Brazil Chile 28062014

Their progress, of course, would be halted in the most dramatic fashion less than two weeks later as a rampant Germany inked the numbers 7-1 into the storied history of the most successful national team in world football.

Thiago Silva missed that match through suspension, but that certainly didn’t earn him protection from the vitriol that would follow. Brazil, they said, were too emotional throughout. The 7-1 was a disaster waiting to happen. And the image of their captain sitting alone that afternoon was held up as an example of it all.

The Selecao needed a fresh start following the 7-1, but Thiago Silva certainly didn’t get one after the arrival of new coach Dunga. First, he was stripped of the captaincy and then, a year later, was made the villain of the piece as his handball gifted Paraguay a penalty at Copa America 2015 before the Selecao were dumped out on penalties.

Thiago Silva Brazil Paraguay 07192015

Thiago Silva would not be recalled by Brazil for a year, returning only when new coach Tite took the reigns and wiped a muddied slate clean, recalling others who had fallen out with the previous boss. But still, the PSG stopper was on the periphery.

For the next 18 months he would have to make do with a place on the bench, as Marquinhos and Miranda marshalled what became one of the meanest defences in international football. But in March this year, Thiago Silva got a pleasant surprise when, after a number of cameos, he was recalled to the first-team, ending an almost three-year wait for place back in the starting XI.

Marquinhos was recovering from a slight knock, and Thiago Silva grabbed his chance with both hands. With more minutes than his PSG team-mate in the domestic season, Thiago Silva was recalled for the Brasil Global Tour clash with Russia in Moscow and retained his place for an epic follow-up – a first meeting with Germany since the 7-1. 

Timo Werner, Thiago Silva e Daniel Alves - Brasil x Alemanha - 27/03/2018

A rare starting role, it appeared, had opened up in an otherwise settled Brazil team as coach Tite began experimenting before the World Cup.

Tite has always liked Thiago Silva both professionally and personally, and, increasingly anxious about forming a team that could overcome deep-lying defences in Russia, Thiago Silva’s ability to play out and start attacks from the back gave him the edge over Marquinhos.

And against Costa Rica, Thiago Silva’s rebirth was complete as he returned to a World Cup with captain’s armband, thanks to Tite’s policy of rotating the role around the team.

"To me it's not a problem," he said last week. "I think the main thing is to give your best regardless of whether you're the captain or not. Everyone has a great responsibility.

"We managed to share this responsibility on the pitch. First we had Marcelo, then Miranda. All of us have individual characteristics and we are all ready to be captain when the coach decides."

Thiago Silva Brazil Costa Rica 22062018

And after a quiet start, the coaching staff were impressed with the leadership qualities he displayed as two late goals saw the Seleaco triumph 2-0.

‘Thiago Silva is not a leader’ the cry has been ever since that afternoon he sat alone on top of that ball in Belo Horizonte four years ago. Now Thiago Silva is back on his feet, standing tall alongside his team-mates, with his chance to prove he can be one of 11 leaders who can take Brazil to the promised land.

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