Before David Luiz beautifully fired in Brazil’s second goal against Colombia on Friday night, he had been going about his job quietly and effectively.
In the World Cup quarter-final though, his 30-yard free kick helped steal the show and highlighted his importance to Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team.
The new Paris Saint-Germain defender has been brilliant throughout this tournament and alongside Thiago Silva has provided the steel behind Seleção’s current success.
The foundation for this team have been built from the back – five games played and just four goals conceded.
An integral part of Scolari’s foundation has been the partnership between the Brazil skipper Silva and Luiz, potentially the best current central defensive partnership in the world.
Yes, Brazil have looked chaotic at times but that has tended to come when Marcelo and Dani Alves have conceded acres of space behind them and also when Luiz Gustavo has been left isolated in midfield.
And while Thiago Silva has received some criticism, the usual critics waiting to pounce on a Luiz error have thus far been kept in the shadows and newspaper columns haven’t been filled blasting the man once described by Gary Neville as if he was being controlled by ‘a 10-year-old on a PlayStation’.
The former Chelsea man has hardly put a foot wrong in this competition and should be up alongside James Rodriguez as a candidate for player of the tournament.
Whilst he hasn’t starred statistically in any category, his consistency deserves huge admiration because no matter how bubbly and happy he comes across, like all of the Brazil team, he has huge pressure on his shoulders.
The 27-year-old has only made six successful tackles and given away nine fouls in the World Cup but has an excellent 34 clearances and 10 interceptions to his name.
|Team||Won Tackles||Interception Won||Effective Clearance||Fouls||Apps||Mins|
In an attacking sense, Luiz has tried, sometimes in vein, to bring the ball out of the back and one charging run against Colombia sticks in the memory.
The PSG ace brought the ball out from inside his own half, barged his way past several players before eventually losing the ball near the opposition penalty area.
The run failed to bring any reward but it helped galvanise the crowd and the Brazil players and that is what Luiz has done throughout this tournament, galvanised those around him.
With Scolari’s team needing a good start against Chile to settle any pre match nerves Luiz delivered when he directed the ball into the net from a set piece.
With Brazil needing a strong start in the penalty shoot-out against Chile, who steps forward and gets the ball rolling with a brilliant spot kick? Luiz.
Needing a crucial second goal against Colombia up steps the Seleção number four to slot perfectly into the top corner and give Brazil the cushion they need.
When they have needed someone in recent matches, he has delivered.
This evening, Luiz will walk out onto Estádio Mineirão captaining his country in the semi-finals of the World Cup. It will be an occasion he relishes, though he would much rather be standing alongside Silva.
The PSG and Brazil captain is a calming influence on Luiz and when together the former Benfica man doesn’t appear to demonstrate the rash side of his game that we have come accustom to seeing on occasions in the Premier League.
Bayern Munich’s Dante is almost certain to start this evening and at times he can be clumsy, alongside Luiz that could be recipe for disaster against the Germans.
However, the captain’s armband should galvanise Luiz and the extra responsibility might ensure he is more focused and therefore less prone to making an error.
The 27-year-old plays with great emotion and nothing will make him more emotional than captaining his country. If he can channel that emotion correctly, though, he could produce a stellar display.
If Brazil are to defeat Germany without their two best players then the PSG defender will need to have the game of his life to snuff out the threat Joachim Löw’s team possess.
Neymar’s absence will be felt greatly but the Barcelona ace hasn’t been his dazzling best in either knock-out match and Seleção have found goals from set pieces.
Thiago Silva has been a rock though and his suspension is probably the bigger blow of the two and therefore you feel Luiz will need to have the game of his life to drag Seleção into the final
With the captain’s armband on and Brazil needing a hero, can David Luiz step forward and earn Seleção a place in the World Cup final?