The Brazilian contingent has returned to Camp des Loges today after their extended break following the FIFA World Cup. Maxwell came out of the tournament with his reputation unscathed after a bit part role during the selceao’s campaign but it is the two marquee defenders, David Luiz and Thiago Silva who have come back with question marks over their performances.
The pair of them have been the bedrock of the Brazil defence for the last few years and one of the big draws in making Luiz the world’s most expensive defender was to partner him with his compatriot. On paper, this looked a beautiful prospect. But after the Brazilian demise in their own backyard, question marks were raised about their defence – no more so than on the skipper and the new man at PSG.
In my opinion, Silva is the world’s best centre-back (I have said this countless times). He has backed this up even more during his two years at the club. That debut campaign of his was imperious and a massive reason in us ending a 19-year wait for a league title. However, it is not unfair to say that he has not been the same player since his injury against AS Monaco in the 1-1 draw last September. In his inaugural campaign his performances were flawless but we began to see cracks after his return last season which were very much unlike him. Miscommunication with his fellow peers in defence as well as mistimed judgments gave opposition players a real chance at the Parisien goal. This really was emphasised in the 1-1 draw, which was coincidentally against Monaco again, where his own-goal gave the Monte Carlo club the all-important equaliser with a quarter of an hour left in the game. Of course, he was unfortunate and it could have happened to any player on the pitch but it just remonstrated that the 29-year-old was susceptible to mistakes.
The 2-0 defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League was a real bitter pill to swallow after our 3-1 victory in the opening leg but again it was mistakes in our defence that caused our demise. Both the Andre Schurrle and Demba Ba goals could have been avoided. It would be unfair to pinpoint the blame solely on the skipper for this (especially as Laurent Blanc’s mentality to sit back did not help matters), but it was slack defending that cost us.
Former French defender Frank Leboeuf had some interesting things to say on the skipper. He believes that the player has an attitude problem and should not even be the captain of PSG; “The real captain of PSG is Ibra. Put Ibra in Brazil’s context during the World Cup, he’d keep a cool head. Sometimes attackers are less about the collective but Ibrahimovic gives guidance to his team-mates. Thiago Silva? He should never have been captain of PSG. Even if, as a centre-back, he has the game in front of him and that’s an advantage. Silva has an attitude problem. You sense he’s not invested, sometimes in a panic. Ibra and Silva have a real influence when they ask the club for something. They give them what they want”.
Is he right? Well, the refusal to take a penalty for his country in a knock-out tie during the World Cup was lambasted. As the captain, he should have taken responsibility and he was lucky that the hosts managed to scrape through against Chile. Had he refused to take a penalty in a PSG shirt, the Parisien supporters may be less forgiving than their South American counterparts. As the captain, with the reputation he has as the world’s best in his position, it was poor not to take some sort of control in his country’s hour of need.
As for David Luiz, he comes with a reputation as a flamboyant centre-back who loves to get forward when an opportunity arises. The fee paid for him was staggering. Is it justifiable? Not at the moment, especially as the club could have invested in someone else just as equally talented for a lot less money. But, as I referred to, the lure of linking him with Thiago, continuing this Brazilian flavour and making a statement following the FFP sanctions proved too much to resist for QSI.
He has so much ability. There is no doubt about that. The price tag will be used against him for the foreseeable future and the only thing he can do is perform. Blanc will aid him massively in that respect. He needs to as well. The criticism the player received after his country’s 7-1 humiliation at the hands of Germany was brutal. He capitulated more than any other player in a yellow shirt on that night in Belo-Horizonte. Everyone will be looking to see how he reacts to this but the move to PSG gives him a fresh start, an opportunity to prove to everyone that the champions were right in outlaying so much money for him.
It will be another week or so before we see them in a blue shirt (most probably next week in the friendly against Napoli). They have points to prove which can only be beneficial to PSG by having two strong personalities eager to impress. This will be Silva’s third season at the club, he has a presence in the DNA of Paris Saint-Germain and has a personality big enough to repair his status as well as aid his buddy David Luiz. It is massive season ahead for the two samba boys.