Arguably even more than talent, an emotional player, positive or negative, will be much more visible than someone who keeps more to themselves.
Quick, if you were asked to name a Brazilian defender what is the first name that comes to mind.
More likely than not it is David Luiz, who has been seen bellowing the Brazilian national anthem before every match, and is well known for how vocal he can be. Even though he is often partnered with the world’s best central defender, and Brazilian captain, Thiago Silva, Luiz is in the spotlight because of his emotional display.
It is for that reason, that he stands at the center of the blame for Brazil’s 7-1 thrashing at the hands of Germany.
BBC Match of the Day commentator Alan Hansen was critical of Luiz following the match.
“Luiz gave one of the worst performances I have ever seen,” Hansen said. “ Still feel sorry for him, coming off the pitch in tears.”
Now let’s make this perfectly clear, is David Luiz the sole reason behind Brazil’s six goal loss? No, not even close. Players like Luis Gustavo, Fernandinho, Maicon and Marcello all had defensive lapses that could have, maybe, made the score a little more respectable.
But does Luiz shoulder a good portion of the blame? You bet your sweet curly afro he does.
It wasn’t that Luiz could have, and should have, done better in preventing each and every one of Germany’s goals. Sure he probably should have marked Thomas Mueller better on the opener, and probably actually defended a couple of times during the eight minute onslaught by the Germans, but it wasn’t just his play.
He was the emotional center of this team. With Neymar out this team had to find a rallying point emotionally and Luiz was supposed to be it.
Beyond even that with Thiago Silva out of the match because of card accumulation, Luiz was named captain of the side.
You could argue that to start the match Luiz did his job. Brazil was moving forward, possessing the ball and actually created a couple of chances. But once Miroslav Klose scored Germany’s second in the 23rd minute it looked like all hope was lost.
The Brazilians went from a team empowered by national support and home field advantage, to a disorganized group of amateurs in the span of less than half an hour.
Any man can lead in times of prosperity, it is when the chips are down that the real leaders are born. Someone who can step up, pull a group by the scruff of the neck out of the muck and into the promised land.
Brazil needed that man to step up. Brazil needed Luiz to step up.
He stood up, and watched as Germany ran right past him.
Following the match Luiz, face red and streaming with tears, apologized to a nation.
“It’s a very sad day, but it’s also a day from which to learn,” Luiz said according to BBC Sport. “Apologies to all the Brazilian people. I just wanted to see my people smile.”
Later on, when the outcome was no longer in question, that emotional side of Luiz sprung up yet again, as attempted to rocket the ball into Mueller from just a couple of feet. Although it appeared to be with the sole intention of hurting his opponent, Luiz got away with it as his wild kick only struck air.
It was the kind of moment you see from a frustrated elementary school player, not from the most expensive defender in the history of soccer. Especially not from your captain.
Manager Luiz Felipe Scolari attempted to pull the blame away from his players following the match, claiming he was the man who made the decisions that led to the defeat.
“I am responsible (for the) catastrophic result,” Scolari said according to The Mirror. “I made the choices. I was responsible.”
But even on what was “the worst day of my (Scolari’s) life,” it will be Luiz who shoulders the blame from the fans.
In 1950 Brazil lost the World Cup Final at home against Uruguay 2-1. Goalkeeper Moacir Barbosa took the blame for the loss, fairly or unfairly, and up until this tournament hadn’t been forgiven for the result.
“Under Brazilian law the maximum (prison) sentence is 30 years,” Barbosa said shortly before his death in 2000. “But my imprisonment has been for 50 years.”
It was a moment the country had hoped to forget this summer at the World Cup.
Well now they’ve definitely forgotten, and Barbosa is no longer the most infamous man in the grand history of Brazilian soccer.
But after the most embarrassing loss in team history, it might be even harder to scrub this defeat from the country’s collective memory.
Let’s hope, for the sake of David Luiz and Brazil, that it doesn’t take another 64 years for a chance at redemption at home.