‘I don’t know how Thiago Silva at his age is still pushing up… it’s UNBELIEVABLE’: Gary Neville hails Brazil’s defence as they become just the second nation not to face a shot on target in their first two World Cup games since 1966
Brazil’s defence, especially veteran Thiago Silva, has been highly praised after they kept a second consecutive clean sheet against Switzerland.
The tournament favourites followed up their 2-0 win over Serbia on Thursday with a 1-0 win over their Swiss rivals – and neither of the European sides were able to muster a shot on target against the Brazilians.
As Opta reported after the game, it meant Brazil have become just the second nation to not face a single shot on target in their first two World Cup games in a single edition since 1966.
It is a good omen for the country as well, because the feat was previously achieved by France in 1998, on their route to winning their home tournament.
Thiago Silva’s performance has been praised after Brazil kept a second straight clean sheet
Speaking to ITV after the game, former defender turned pundit Gary Neville had significant praise to hail upon Brazil’s backline, and 38-year-old Chelsea centre-back Silva in particular.
Speaking about their great defensive record, Neville said: ‘Every coach wants that. We see Pep Guardiola in the Premier League changing the face of football in the last ten years in that we demand 60%, 70% possession from the best teams, we demand incredible football players technically gifted players on the pitch but they also have to keep clean sheets. They’re also brilliant defensively.
‘Not just that, they push up the pitch unbelievably. I don’t know how Thiago Silva at his age is still pushing up that pitch. I think back at my career, to get in front of your forward all the time, to try and win it, is one of the hardest that you try and do – he’s still doing that late into his thirties – it’s unbelievable.’
Gary Neville said it was ‘unbelievable’ Silva was still defending how he does at the age of 38
Neville added: ‘The balance for a coach is always to try and find the right attacking and defending balance but you wanna try and get as many attacking players on the pitch as possible, your most talented players on the pitch without losing that sort of defensive shape.
At the end, the coach was pushing that sort of balance towards the fact that he wanted those attacking players on the pitch, and all these coaches in these tournaments, some of them like Brazil, have 6, 7, 8 unbelievable players – you can’t get them all on the pitch, but how many can you get on the pitch?
‘He didn’t have enough of them on the pitch at the start of the game, towards the end it looked the right type of balance for the quality that they have.’
After Casemiro’s great strike sealed Brazil’s passage into the knockout stages, they next face Cameroon on Friday, before a last-16 clash against a side from Group H.
Brazil have become only the second side not to face a shot on target in their first two matches
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