Brazil have continued their slightly unsteady march to the World Cup by hanging on to overcome a spirited Colombia comeback but they will be without their captain for the next game against Germany, which may well cost them dear.
Brazil dominated the first half and could easily be further ahead than the one goal lead that their captain Thiago Silva gave them by bundling home from a corner in the seventh minute.
Brazil were unrecognisable from the side that scraped past Chile in the last round, exploiting space between the Colombian lines as they pulled players all around the pitch, creating many chances as they did so, looking every inch potential champions.
Selecao stay strong
Colombia looked shell shocked for the first 35 minutes. Whether that was caused by the big occasion or the Brazilian performance is debatable, but the fact is they were barely in the game in the first half. Potential player of the tournament James Rodriguez showed a couple of touches of class but certainly there was nothing inspirational before the break from Pekerman’s side.
However, this all changed after the break; Colombia pressing much higher and giving the Brazilan’s much less time on the ball. James Rodriguez took the game by the scruff of the neck and dragged his side back into it; the Colombians looked much more likely to get back into it than fall further behind.So when David Luiz struck an inch perfect shot past a poorly positioned Ospina it was very much against the run of play.
It was no surprise though when Colombia got back into the game after anther piece of James Rodriguez brilliance, reversing a ball to a teammate before h was brought down for a penalty by Julio Cesar, which Rodriguez himself then calmly converted. Nevertheless, despite this Colombian resurgence, Brazil just about managed to hang on for the win amid a frantic end to the game.
Stupid Silva suspended
However, one of the most significant actions of the match may have also been one of the most innocuous looking ones. Thiago Silva stepped in front of Colombian goalkeeper Ospina as he attempted to launch a counter attack and got himself booked, and thus, suspended for the next game. This is perhaps the single biggest loss Brazil could experience, and Germany may well be the perfect team to exploit it.
Thiago Silva is not only arguably the finest individual central defender in the world; he is also Brazil’s captain, their organiser and their talisman. He controls the at times reckless attacking instincts of David Luiz and keeps a very offensive back line solid defensively. Brazil’s attacking flair is built on a certain amount of defensive solidity, led by Silva, and without his leadership at the back the balance may shift too far in an offensive direction.
This will please Joachim Low and the German side greatly, as a disorganised back line suits their style of play perfectly. Employing Muller as a false nine and playing with the space that will be created by playing against a back four that is without its lead organiser should prove fruitful for the German team. There will also, of course, be worries about Neymar, who was stretchered off after a knee in the back at the end, but Silva is, on today’s evidence the worse loss.
It is made even more inexcusable by the sheer stupidity of the booking. The referee had up until that point kept his cards in his pocket despite some fairly heavy challenges, but he had no choice but to book Silva after his impetuous block on the keeper.
Up until then, and indeed for the rest of the game, Silva had been traditionally imperious at the back, but that one moment of thoughtlessness, reflected in the pain on Scolari’s face as he saw the card appear, may well ultimately be what costs his team a home World Cup win in 2014.
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