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David Luiz and Thiago Silva are the key to Brazil's

David Luiz and Thiago Silva are the key to Brazil's

Posted by Juan Gavasa on June 04, 2014

Paris and the rest of the world will have to wait. The most expensive central defensive partnership ever assembled will not be on show in Goiania on Tuesday night.

Brazil's penultimate World Cup warm-up against Panama will feature David Luiz, Paris Saint-Germain's latest record-breaker, but club and country captain Thiago Silva has been left at base to fully shake off a niggle before real battle commences next week.

PSG's money men may have been able to put a price (£85million, give or take) on the Luiz-Silva tandem, even if some sceptics are convinced they have missed a decimal point on the former's world-record fee. But it's likely that Luis Felipe Scolari would be unable to do similar. For him, the duo who make up the beating heart of his defence are utterly priceless.

The game against Panama will mark the 21st match of Scolari's second stint at the helm of the Selecao. It's been a pretty successful 18 months in charge for the former World Cup winner, last summer's Confederations Cup victory the undoubted highlight.

Neymar is thrust forward as the poster boy of that victory and Big Phil's redesigned national team, but it is his defensive pairing who have been the true starting point, the bedrock for a construction job that the manager hopes will end on July 13 with a second crown.

A need to blood the previously untested Dante coupled with an injury here and there for the captain meant Scolari hasn't been able to pair Luiz and Silva together as much as he'd like - namely every minute of every game. But when he has done so, the results are staggering. On Scolari's watch, Brazil have a winning percentage of 83.33 percent when Luiz and Silva start together. Without them, that number plummets to 50 percent.

They have partnered up 12 times in his 20 games, with 10 wins (nine of which have come against teams who will feature at the World Cup) and two draws. Throw in their 50 percent rate of clean sheets and their momentous importance is clear.

'Thiago is a great friend, a great player and I get along very well with him,' said Luiz this week. The younger of the two by two years, he made his debut in 2010 against the USA inevitably alongside Silva. They are indeed friends, but Ant and Dec are friends, they're not going to win you a World Cup.

The narrative that they make for an odd couple may seem like an easy one. But it's also true. Opposites off the field, they're very different defenders too. And that might just be why it's worked so well.

Arguably the finest defender at this World Cup, Silva is a supreme reader of a game, his mental strengths, his concentration unparalleled. It is specifically in that part of the game that Luiz has suffered the brain fades that caused Jose Mourinho and others to lose a little trust in him as a last line. But he remains technically gifted and one hell of an athlete.

If Luiz has one of those 'moments' (of which he has had a lot fewer than most critics imply), there's a good chance Silva will have seen it coming. If Silva is technically outfoxed, there's a good chance Luiz will be able to scramble and have his partner's back.

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