Australia may have been the unlikeliest of places for Thiago Silva to showcase once more he belongs in a Brazil shirt.
It has been a long road back for the Paris Saint-Germain star following the debacles that were the 2014 World Cup and 2015 Copa America.
Silva, 32, has incredibly played just 47 minutes in qualifying for Brazil, who have booked their spot in Russia. That is perhaps the strongest indication of the depth of talent at Tite’s disposal, and the competition for places he can create ahead of next year’s showpiece.
In Inter’s Miranda and Silva’s club team-mate Marquinhos, the centre of Brazil’s defence has been well marshalled in qualifying. They have conceded just 10 goals in 14 games in an all-conquering campaign, one during which fellow heavyweights Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Colombia have each had their struggles.
Brazil’s attack has, perhaps rightly, taken most of the plaudits, and Philippe Coutinho showed once more why as the Liverpool star pulled all the strings during his side’s 4-0 thrashing of Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday. Even without their brightest star Neymar, they were in control, albeit against an understrength Socceroos who had little spark of their own.
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But Tite’s words ahead of the friendly summed up what he wants his team to stand for despite the almost endless creative flair in their attacking third. “Creativity without organisation in a team creates a mess,” he said.
European nations have not only won the past three World Cups, but they have owned five of the six spots in the final. But Brazil may be finding the balance, and in Silva they have a captain and organiser in the heart of defence.
He had a decent outing in the loss to Argentina – his first competitive start since the 2015 Copa and first time he had worn the armband since being stripped of it in late 2014. Silva built on that against the Confederations Cup-bound Socceroos, and he capped off a fine performance with a headed goal in the second half.
Tite’s decision not to play David Luiz alongside him helps, with the Chelsea star enjoying a good outing in central midfield.
Silva’s central defensive partner, Rodrigo Caio, did little wrong, although the visitors’ back four was rarely truly tested. The Sao Paulo man also provided Silva’s goal with his header following a scramble from a Coutinho corner.
Following the messy endings to Brazil’s most recent major tournaments, Tite may have found his men to ensure there is no repeat in Russia, and Silva could lead the cast.
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