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Jul 9, 2014

PSG concern for devastated Brazil trio

Defender, holding midfielder, game winner, gentleman. David Luiz did it all, including consoling a distraught James Rodriguez at the end of the match.

Following Brazil's historic 7-1 humiliation at the hands of France's FIFA World Cup quarterfinal conquerors Germany in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday, Paris Saint-Germain's trio of samba stars will not be getting their hands on the coveted trophy for the host nation. Worse than that, the effects of the defeat could prove to be far-reaching for the French champions, given the severity of the defeat and the scathing comments that have already come the players' way.

That is unlikely to stop anytime soon.

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PSG's Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Maxwell will also have to endure the added humiliation of taking part in the third-place playoff before they can finally start to put this nightmare behind them. The healing process will take a long time, though, and Luiz, in particular, might never truly get over it. Although Silva was not on the pitch during the mauling -- neither was teammate Maxwell -- the captain leapt to the defence of his close friend and stand-in skipper, Luiz, postmatch by insisting that he -- Silva -- was as much to blame for the Selecao's exit as PSG's latest big-money acquisition.

"We're all responsible, and no one player more than any other," Silva said after the game. "Football is a team sport and each part of the collective needs to assume responsibility. There should be no scapegoats. In my entire career, I've never experienced a loss this big. How can you explain it? You can't explain the inexplicable. All we can do is apologise to the people of Brazil."

"Personally, after every loss, I have trouble sleeping," the 29-year-old added. "When PSG were knocked out of the Champions League quarters by Chelsea, I didn't sleep much at all. Imagine what it will be like after a result like this one. ... It's a World Cup that we all had our hearts set on winning."

The immediate concern for PSG will be the mental effect that it has on the trio.

It has been a difficult campaign for all of them, with Brazil coming in for severe criticism as hosts and also for not playing their trademark entertaining style of football. Individually, Silva has struggled with the captaincy and came in for scrutiny after it emerged that he specifically requested to not take a penalty in the last 16 shootout against Chile. Reports quickly emerged after that narrow victory that a psychologist had been brought in to help the players address their issues.

Brazil teammates David Luiz, left, and Thiago Silva will be hoping for brighter things this coming season at PSG.
Brazil teammates David Luiz, left, and Thiago Silva will be hoping for brighter things this coming season at PSG.

However, Brazil's deplorable defensive performance against a well-organised and brutally efficient Germany side was perhaps testament to not only Silva's unrivalled ability as a central defender, but also as a leader and an organiser. Luiz, on the other hand, PSG's shiny new signing at a reported 50 million pounds, was a shadow of the lion of a character who had been seen in previous performances during the earlier rounds of the tournament.

Visibly broken as he wept his way through a postmatch interview, it was impossible not to wonder what sort of player will be arriving at the Parc des Princes once Luiz arrives for Ligue 1 duty. It was also difficult to avoid the immediate nagging thought of whether this was a preface to what will happen at PSG if and when Silva is absent through injury or suspension. There is, of course, a chance that this adversity will bring the best out of such reputable professionals, but there is also a chance that such a psychological blow will have profound long-term effects.

Maxwell -- an unused substitute so far -- was almost certainly upset by the result, given his proximity to the camp, but he will likely not be as mentally affected and traumatised as both Silva and Luiz. He also has the small matter of the emerging talent of Lucas Digne taking his place in the starting XI to worry about.

The trio will embark upon the 21-day break that PSG have permitted all of their World Cup stars -- a period that starts as soon as the country in question are eliminated -- meaning that they will not report back for duty with the defending Championnat titleholders until Aug. 3. In reality, it will take more than those three weeks for Silva and Luiz to shake off the mental debris of this crushing defeat.

For PSG, though, this poses a number of problems.

Firstly, Silva, Luiz and Maxwell -- two of the three presumably key players for coach Laurent Blanc this coming season -- will miss the Trophee des Champions meeting with EA Guingamp in Beijing on Aug. 2, with the Ligue 1 opener away to Stade de Reims coming just five days later on Friday, Aug. 8. On top of that, an ill-timed friendly with SSC Napoli -- part of Ezequiel Lavezzi's transfer from back in 2012 -- will take place in Naples three days after that.

Les Parisiens realistically will be deprived of all three for the opening weeks of the season and, in Silva's case, will be without their captain. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has stepped up and led the team each time the Brazilian has been unavailable or injured, and the Swede has been an inspirational leader each time he wears the armband.

Is there a chance that PSG might be considering a more permanent swap between Silva and Ibrahimovic after this summer's events, though? That is something that will only become clear when Silva, along with Luiz and Maxwell, return to the French capital after this debacle.

While their fellow Brazilians were getting annihilated by Germany in Belo Horizonte, omitted internationals Marquinhos and Lucas Moura were leading PSG to a 3-0 preseason friendly win over TSV Hartberg and will be grateful to have been spared of the same heartache as their teammates.

Jonathan Johnson

Based in Paris, Jonathan Johnson is a freelance football journalist and the voice of PSG TV. He writes for ESPN, Bleacher Report and French Football Weekly. You can find him on Twitter @Jon_LeGossip.