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FutureStarrThiago Silva Vs Frank Lampard - A Comparative Analysis of Aging in Football
Frank Lampard faces a critical decision regarding Thiago Silva ahead of Wednesday's Champions League quarter final match-up against Real Madrid. The Brazilian defender appears to have returned to full fitness following an extended lay-off. Silva could start alongside N'Golo Kante and one of Malang Sarr or Ben Chilwell, against Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema respectively. Age Differences Thiago Silva, now 37, remains a top player at Chelsea after joining them from PSG in 2021. Many had their doubts as to his adaptation to Premier League competition after dominating Ligue 1. However, Thiago has disproved all doubts and been an invaluable component of Chelsea's defence since moving here. Silva was instrumental in leading Chelsea to their second Champions League crown under Thomas Tuchel last season, and will play an essential role in their pursuit to reclaim it this time around. He will likely play an instrumental role in Chelsea's Champions League quarter final matchup against Real Madrid at Bernabeu on Wednesday night, after being seen training at Cobham on Monday and being included as part of their squad. Silva has been out with injury for much of this season but is now fully fit and prepared to play at a high level once more. The veteran defender was an integral member of Tuchel's Blues side when they won their second Champions League trophy in 2021, and will hope to add yet another trophy under him this time around. Silva and Lampard share many characteristics in common, despite being separated in age by several decades. Both former international players possess vast amounts of experience as former team leaders for their respective clubs, both having strong desires to win as well as possessing advanced tactical knowledge. One of the key determinants of footballer performance is their biological age, which can be determined by how active and healthy a person has been throughout their lives and health-related habits. Players who train regularly tend to have lower biological ages than individuals who do not train. Exercise stimulates our bodies' cells and increases mitochondrial activity, helping slow the aging process while improving muscle performance. But there's a limit to what our bodies can handle at one time and it is vitally important that players take steps to safeguard their wellbeing and avoid injury. Experience Thiago Silva has been one of Chelsea's best defenders this season despite suffering an injury-ravaged campaign. Since joining on free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain in 2020, he has played 109 times at Stamford Bridge; recently signing a contract extension until 2024. Silva's return to fitness gives caretaker boss Frank Lampard confidence ahead of Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg against Real Madrid. Silva will likely return for Madrid's clash against Tottenham at the Bernabeu despite suffering an injury during their 2-0 loss earlier in February. After only 19 minutes in that matchup, Silva was forced off after suffering an ankle sprain, potentially costing the club an opportunity to reach Europe's premier competition semi-finals. The 37-year-old has amassed six clearances and two interceptions in three appearances this season despite not having scored yet in the league. Nonetheless, he has been an influential presence on defence while not being afraid to join attacks, providing good fantasy value in formats which reward clean sheet contributors. At Chelsea's press conference ahead of their match against Sheffield United on Saturday, Silva was full of praise for former manager Frank Lampard. In particular, he noted how everyone respected Frank - both players and staff. I have no doubts he will deliver the goods! Lampard has often been praised for his managerial acumen, with Silva noting in an interview last year that Lampard played a part in convincing him to switch clubs from Paris Saint-Germain and join Chelsea during summer 2021. Silva was both Chelsea and Brazil captains prior to leading them to victory at their inaugural World Cup victory in 2022. Additionally, he holds the distinction of becoming the oldest player ever to appear in a major European final with his appearance for Chelsea aged 36 years. Over his 89-cap tenure for his national side Selecao (Selecao means Selecao in Portuguese) Silva should retain the armband when they launch their defence of their trophy in Qatar next month. Physicality The Premier League is well known as being a fierce and physical football league in Europe, making it difficult for highly rated foreign players to adapt. But Silva excels at adapting, and relishes every physical battle he must go through every week in England's top flight. Silva has been an instrumental component in Chelsea's defensive success this season, helping reduce vulnerabilities from crosses. Last season they conceded 11 goals from crosses, the third-highest total in the league; so far this season only four have been conceded! Even though he isn't naturally a centreback, Silva can play in that position and is strong in the air. So far this season in league play he has won 76% of his aerial duels compared to only 52% for club defenders overall. Silva will further improve under Lampard in his distribution ability. The Brazilian has excellent passing ability and is adept at playing either centre-back or midfield positions. Furthermore, he serves as an effective decoy when his teammates press, helping prevent opposing teams from creating openings in defence. Silva's arrival at Chelsea will enable Lampard to address their defensive needs without breaking their transfer or wage budgets. While Chelsea cannot afford to sign all the elite centrebacks they desire in one window, Silva could prove an economical solution until next year when West Ham could offer Declan Rice as an option. Lampard may opt against selecting Silva against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu this evening, but he would likely still consider including him in his plans for the remainder of the season. N'Golo Kante has returned to training but may need time to build match fitness before being back out on the pitch again. Work Rate Thiago Silva has received widespread acclaim since joining Chelsea. The Brazil defender has impressed senior Blues players with his enthusiasm to contribute towards their cause, while former PSG star Thiago has been an exemplar of consistency within the club. Additionally, at 38 years old he brings valuable big game experience that could prove especially helpful given that Chelsea have struggled in defence this season. The Blues currently find themselves eleventh in the Premier League and 17 points from a top-four finish, and have seen their Champions League hopes end after suffering an embarrassment at Real Madrid in the quarter-finals. As such, there's little left for them in domestic play after spending over PS600m since Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital took control. Some observers have speculated that the club's players may not be working hard enough. While this may be partly true, others argue that some simply lack the physicality to compete at this level and others are recovering from injuries so may not yet be at full fitness. At Chelsea, there is no doubt about their players' quality; evidenced by their performances this season and particularly over their last six matches where 18 goals have been scored in six matches alone! This achievement speaks volumes. They have conceded only nine goals during this time - an excellent record in the Premier League. If they want to see significant improvement next season, however, they must increase defensive efficiency through better organization and discipline; perhaps Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva's big game experience will prove instrumental in this endeavour.