Last summer Thiago Silva was named in the FIFA World Cup Team of the Tournament and it would be difficult to dispute the reasons behind that. The skipper for both his club and country exhibited his abilities that have made him renown for being one of the best centre-backs in the world. But, how has he fared since last summer?
From a PSG perspective, he is not the same Thiago Silva who arrived from Milan in 2012 and made an immediate impact on his debut against Dynamo Kiev – netting a goal too for good measure! He was incredible during that campaign where we ended a 19-year wait for a league title. However, his form has not been what it can be over the last 12-months but his performances in the World Cup emphasised the quality we know he possesses.
La Selecao’s legacy in their own World Cup will forever be tainted by that humiliating 7-1 defeat at the hands of Germany in the semi-final. David Luiz was a part of that but not Silva. People tend to forget that he was in actual fact suspended for that game after picking up his second booking of the tournament in the quarter-final against Colombia. Would it have been that much of rout had the skipper been involved? We will never know but the Germans played with an efficiency that we had never seen in a World Cup. They were ruthless!
Silva made five appearances during the tournament. He and Luiz conceded four goals during those 450 minutes and when you look at the calibre of opposition they faced, it is not that bad at all. They did ride their luck of course in the last-16 against Chile. The aforementioned should have gone through on the balance of play. Silva though made a monumental error by refusing to take a spot-kick in the penalty-shootout. The skipper of the host nation, in a knock-out tie, refusing to take a penalty? It did not go down well at all! I remember saying at the time, imagine if he did that in a PSG shirt in a Champions League knock-out tie? He would have been crucified by the Parisian press. To be honest he got off pretty lightly. As one of the faces of that Brazilian side, he should have had the courage to step up!
Statistically, most of his defensive duties involved clearances. He accumulated a total of 71.6% in that area with 13.4% coming from blocks and 14.9% coming from interceptions. If you compare that to his form in Ligue 1 this season where he has made 11 appearances, his clearance total is more or less the same with 70.8% but there is a massive increase in terms of interceptions where he has 22.1%. Incidentally, we all know that Silva is a ball player. In the World Cup he had a pass accuracy of 87% which is not bad. In the league this season he has bettered that with 91%.
His start to this season was blighted by that injury he picked up in Naples in a friendly which was arranged as part of the Ezequiel Lavezzi deal. However, just a few days prior to that he played the entirety of the opening league game against Stade de Reims (which ended 2-2), despite only returning to training after his break from the World Cup three days before. Fair enough, he came through unscathed. But, to then play him in a meaningless friendly a few days later was a real error in judgment by Laurent Blanc. Silva wanted to play the game but common sense surely had to come to the fore. As a result, Silva pulled up with a hamstring injury and missed over two and half months.
His performance in Barcelona in the 3-1 defeat last month was not up this standard by any means, neither in the 1-0 defeat to Guingamp where he was at fault in particular for the goal. Still, I felt the criticism he received in the French press was slightly over the top. He has set himself the highest of standards and they expect them to be maintained week in, week out.
He was fundamental in the victory during the week against Saint-Etienne. There were signs of the Thiago Silva we all know and love with expertly timed tackles and vital defensive blocks. Perhaps it was a statement of intent to justify his inclusion in the FIFA/FIFPro Team of the Year which was announced last Monday?
Statistics courtesy of Squawka.com