Brazil Players Must Share World Cup Title Responsibility in Colombia Clash

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Brazil Players Must Share World Cup Title Responsibility in Colombia Clash
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Whilst Brazil made it past Chile in their World Cup second-round encounter, it was not without its casualties. Physically, as well as emotionally, after a gruelling test of the side's capacities.

The images of players sat on the ground, drained, were striking. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari walked amongst them, dragging players, weakened by battle, to their feet.

Games like Brazil's against Chile can define a team and their prospective path to glory. There are two possible outcomes for the hosts from here on in.

After such a close call as last Saturday, the team can regroup, use the tie as a wake-up call and emerge a stronger unit. Coming through such a scathing challenge victorious can give them the confidence that this is a path that they can walk and compete together.

Alternatively, it could be construed as a sign that this Brazil team lacks the mental strength to complete this World Cup mission. At the end of the game the players looked defeated, yet they are barely halfway through the tournament.

At harrowing moments the role of the senior players is to lead their colleagues, to step forward and be a voice and a pillar of strength for the group.

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Brazil players looked defeated rather than victorious at the end of the match against Chile.

Thiago Silva is the captain of Brazil and is considered one of the best central defenders in the game today. But the look of agony etched across his features at the final whistle was hardly reassuring to those who will look up to the 29-year-old to set an example.

This Selecao squad is a young one and inexperience is rife. Of the 23 called up, only six have previous played at a World Cup.

Silva is one of them, but the image of your captain on his knees, weeping, is not exactly one of inspirations to those under his charge. According to Brazilian sports website UOL (link in Portuguese), the Paris Saint-Germain stopper had also requested to be the very last to take a penalty in the shootout against Chile.

1970 World Cup winner Carlos Alberto Torres was one of the most vociferous in his appraisal of Silva's performance at the end of the second-round tie on Saturday. “He was made captain because he has all the characteristics for the job. He had to be in the middle of the field shouting,” he told Lance (link in Portuguese).

Felipe Dana/Associated Press
Carlos Alberto Torres was critical of Thiago Silva after the Chile game.

Instead, reports suggest that it was in fact Paulinho who delivered words of encouragement to the players prior to the shootout on Saturday, as reported by Folha de Sao Paulo (link in Portuguese).

Brazil are, of course, under enormous pressure to win this World Cup. They have yet to find top gear and, as that pressure increases, players will find spotlight and the intensity it brings an increasing burden to shoulder.

On Friday, Brazil return to Fortaleza, scene of their goalless draw with Mexico, to face a Colombia side with a 100 percent record in the competition.

Luiz Gustavo, who has been Brazil's best player alongside Neymar, will miss the game through suspension. The holding midfielder would have been the ideal choice to mark the in-form James Rodriguez, the tournament's leading scorer with five goals and the only player to net in every match he has played in so far.

That gives Scolari an issue to ponder. Fernandinho, who started in Paulinho's place against Chile, could drop back and allow the Tottenham man to retake his former role.

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Luiz Gustavo will miss Brazil's quarter-final clash with Colombia.

Alternatively, the versatile Henrique, one of the surprise call-ups, could be drafted into the first team as defensive cover in midfield.

Perhaps the safest option would be to move David Luiz further forward. When Rafa Benitez was in charge at Stamford Bridge he used the Brazilian in a midfield role, and the player's comfort on the ball is a clear asset.

BR Tools
How Brazil could line up against Colombia on Friday.

If Luiz was moved into midfield, Dante would be the likely partner for Thiago Silva in the middle of the defence. At a time of turmoil for Brazil's middle sector, the absence of Scolari's one reliable player in that position brings a dilemma of its own.

To complicate matters further, doubts are swirling around Neymar's fitness ahead of the quarter-final clash, as reported by The Daily Mail. Brazil could be on the verge of losing the two players who have helped the side tick over during the World Cup.

If there is a moment for the supporting cast to stand up and be counted, it is now. The responsibility of taking this team to the limit must be shared.

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