Thiago Silva Suspension Leaves Vital Void to Fill for Brazil

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Thiago Silva Suspension Leaves Vital Void to Fill for Brazil
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And on they march. Brazil have surpassed one more test on their way to the hexa, the elusive sixth World Cup crown, as it is known in Brazil.

The hosts have emerged from their mini Copa America with a place in the semi-finals for the first time since 2002. Their coach 12 years ago was a certain Luiz Felipe Scolari, and we all know how that tournament ended.

The next stop on their quest should prove to be their sternest test to date. On Tuesday, Brazil meet Germany, whom Scolari defeated in the final in 2002 to lift the trophy, in Belo Horizonte.

Furthermore, they will have to make do without captain Thiago Silva. Challenging Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina whilst the No. 1 was still in possession of the ball, referee Carlos Velasco Carballo produced the yellow card for the Brazilian defender.

A needless act? Perhaps. An enormous void to fill? Certainly.

Michael Steele/Getty Images
Thiago Silva opens the scoring against Colombia.

Silva's tears at the end of the tie against Chile last Saturday have seen the 29-year-old the target of fervent criticism, as well as stirring debate about the mental strength of the leader of this band of players.

Overcome at the end of that game, he gave way to his emotions. As leader of a band of players with arguably more pressure on them than any other Brazil squad in history, his reaction was perhaps fathomable.

Any doubts about his abilities to perform not only at the highest level, but within the cauldron of pressure that representing Brazil in a World Cup brings, were blown away against Colombia.

Brazil's captain opened the scoring after seven minutes in what must have been sweet vindication for the No. 3 and, alongside David Luiz and with Fernandinho stationed in front of the back four, kept Colombia's rapid attacking threats at bay.

The trio formed a barrier that refused to give way. During an open first half Silva twice blocked efforts from Juan Cuadrado as Brazil protected their slender lead.

Scolari has had a defined group for over a year now. But Silva and Luiz's productive partnership at the heart of the defence stretches to three years, back to when Mano Menezes was at the helm of the Selecao ship.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Dante (second from right) should replace Thiago Silva against Germany.

Including today's game, the pair have played together 26 times for Brazil. In those games the side have never lost, winning 21, and have conceded more than one goal in a game just once, in the 4-2 win over Italy during last year's Confederations Cup.

Dante, the likely replacement, is an able substitute, but it must be a worry for Felipao that against a fearsome German unit that has netted 10 times in the World Cup so far he will be without his captain.

The back line for Brazil has been far from stable during this tournament. They have managed to keep a clean sheet in only one game, and against Germany they could face a tactical system they have not seen in their opponents thus far, the false No. 9.

Miroslav Klose started against France, but against a shaky and untested defence coach Joachim Low may well be tempted to revert to type. Using Andre Schurrle as a floating frontman could be employed as a temptation to draw Luiz and Dante out of position.

It will be a contest that calls for organisation, discipline and leadership from the front. As proved against Colombia, these are among Silva's principal traits as Brazil captain.

Over the last few years Brazil's strength has been based around the back rather than the front. The previous wearer of the No. 3 shirt, Lucio, was a monster of a centre half and a symbol of the changing face of the Selecao.

Thiago Silva has inherited the shirt and captain's armband with aplomb. How Brazil will deal without their inspirational leader will be at the forefront of Scolari's mind in the days before Tuesday's test.

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