Brazilian defender Dante may have the perfect opportunity to emerge into the limelight and show his worth in Tuesday's World Cup semifinal against Germany, suspended captain Thiago Silva said on Monday.
Thiago Silva will miss the match after receiving a yellow card against Colombia in the last round and Dante is his most likely replacement. As the captain left the pitch at the end of the Colombia match he embraced Dante and spoke to him.
"I said 'this might be your moment to go out there and show all your skills'," Thiago Silva told a news conference at Belo Horizonte's Mineirao stadium.
"He was one of the first players to greet me, and I said 'look, the opportunity will arise'.
"But it's up to the coach to select him. Dante's definitely ready. He's someone who works very hard. He's one of the first to get to training and one of the last to leave.
"I had the opportunity to play with him at (Brazilian league club) Juventude and I know what he's had to overcome to get to this stage."
Dante has only recently been recognised as a world-class player after years struggling at relatively modest clubs. He made his debut for Brazil last year and now plays his club football at German champions Bayern Munich.
"Dante can replace me and we also have another three or four players who can so in that sense I'm really at ease," Thiago Silva said.
The Brazilian captain was booked for a silly challenge against Colombia, blocking the opposing goalkeeper as he was about to kick the ball upfield.
"At no moment did I think about taking the ball from the goalkeeper," Thiago Silva said. "I was already on a yellow card so I was trying to avoid committing any fouls. That's the only foul I committed during the match."
Despite his suspension, Thiago Silva said he was confident he would play in the final.
"I'm sure that my mission has still not finished at this World Cup," he said.
Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said he had tapped Dante and midfielder Luiz Gustavo for information about the Germans because both of them play in the Bundesliga. Luiz Gustavo plays for VfL Wolfsburg.
"They fill in the gaps with information," Scolari said. "They tell us a lot about their teammates and the way they play."