Thiago Silva and David Luiz Perfect Partnership for Brazil at 2014 World Cup
It has been a continuing trend of recent years that Brazil's strength lies in its defensive solidity.
And the Selecao's first-choice central defence of Thiago Silva and David Luiz, as two of the most in demand players in Europe, will be at the core of the country's World Cup challenge in 2014.
It is possible to go back and define the date when Brazilian football stopped basing their tactical approach primarily on attack.
July 1, 2006. The quarter-final of the World Cup in Germany. Brazil were defending their 2002 title and were supposed to do so in style.
They had the Fantastic Four in attack, the unstoppable quartet who would blast them to triumph no matter what. Ronaldo, Adriano, Ronaldinho and Kaka, with Robinho on the bench should the opposition goalmouth prove too evasive.
The rest of the team be damned.
But in the quarter-final that day, they came undone against France. Thierry Henry's effort on 57 minutes was enough to separate the teams, but a different man would take the headlines: Zinedine Zidane.
His majestic performance was enough to spell the end for coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.
In came Dunga, and the team's approach immediately changed. The former holding midfielder built from the back, and the pattern has continued under first Mano Menezes and now during Luiz Felipe Scolari's second spell as manager
There is no magic “R” trio of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho like in 2002. But Scolari's side is not without its own strengths, and in Thiago Silva and David Luiz, he possesses one of the strongest defensive partnerships in international football.
Speaking to renowned Brazilian football magazine PLACAR prior to the Confederations Cup, Scolari admitted, “Today, our strongest sector is the defence,” and with Luiz and Silva flanked by Barcelona's Daniel Alves and Real Madrid's Marcelo, it is easy to see why.
As for the Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea defenders, their places in the starting line-up come the World Cup's opening game on June 12 are, barring injury, set in stone. On the pitch, the two complement each other perfectly.
Thiago Silva is a defender very much in the mould of former Bayern Munich and Internazionale star Lucio, and what he endured proves his determination and strength of character.
In 2004, whilst at Russian outfit Dinamo Moscow, Silva was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was told by doctors his career was over.
But he rebuilt his career in Brazil with Fluminense and has never looked back.
David Luiz is more comfortable on the ball, having previously played as a left-back at Brazilian club Vitoria and then Portuguese giants Benfica. Last season, during Rafa Benitez's interim spell in charge at Chelsea, Luiz was pushed forward into a defensive midfield role and excelled, a position he was also familiar with in Brazil.
But he is made of no lesser stuff than his partner. Picking up a knock in the Confederations Cup semi-final against Uruguay, Luiz played the final against Spain through the pain barrier, having denied to take an injection beforehand.
And his contribution to that match was telling. With Brazil 1-0 and Spain pressing, young forward Pedro broke free. Rolling the ball past Julio Cesar, Luiz summoned every ounce of adrenaline to sprint and clear the ball off the line, preventing Spain's equaliser. Brazil would go on to win 3-0.
Thrust together for the first time in Menezes' first game in charge against USA in August 2010, over three years later, their understanding can appear telepathic, as shown during their Confederations Cup performances.
Their trajectories to absolute starters are remarkably similar. Both were rejected by major Brazilian teams in their youth: Thiago Silva by Rio giants Flamengo and David Luiz by Sao Paulo. Luiz, who now stands at 189cm, was dismissed for being too short.
Throughout the Confederations Cup, Brazil conceded just three goals in five game, thanks in no small part to the bedrock of an experienced defence enticingly complemented by a young and imaginative attack.
Brazil teams down the years have produced other legendary partnerships: Bellini and Orlando, Oscar and Luizinho, Aldair and Marcio Santos. The current crop has a certain Neymar leading the way forward, but if the Selecao house is to be triumphant next year, they can be sure the bedrock will have firm foundations.
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