David Luiz
Luiz has been adopted as the face of Brazil's World Cup hopes in Neymar's absence.

The Brazilian football public need no invitation to herald a hero. Outside the Maracana Stadium in Rio, perhaps the sport's most famous theatre, there is a shrine to Hilderaldo Bellini – the captain of the Brazil side that won the 1958 World Cup. A statue that is often worshipped, it is another reminder how a solitary figure can be celebrated to a fanatical extent.

Brazil's football history is littered with such central protagonists. Pele, Zico and Ronaldo have all felt the pressure of shouldering the reasonability of leading the Selecao in a major tournament. Each, in their own way, has achieved legendary status.

The first World Cup on home soil for over half a century was set aside for the entry of another Brazil footballing superstar; Neymar. Though already an established presence having earned over 50 international caps and swapped Santos for Barcelona in 2013, a home finals was meant to be the 22 year old's calling.

Coverage in local and national press, reception to public appearances and adverts adorning his name suggests that Brazil's interest in their newest icon had reached an obsessive level that would make even Pele blush.

Despite being smothered in pressure, performances have followed. Two goals on opening night secured victory over Croatia, two more against Cameroon saw Luiz Felipe Scolari's side qualify as group winners. Though not on the score sheet against Chile and Colombia, Neymar continued to set the tone for Brazil's effervescent, if not spluttering, passing game.

But from stoppage time in Foraleza, when Neymar was cynically fouled by midfielder Juan Zuniga and ruled out of the World Cup with a fractured vertebra, to the eve of the biggest match on Brazilian soil for 64 years against Germany on Tuesday, the public have been searching for a new hero.

In David Luiz, the new Paris Saint Germain defender, they have a new candidate to spearhead their World Cup hopes. Every aspect of his persona fits the criteria for a Brazilian superman. Unrelentingly passionate, unexplainably infectious and possessing a significant douse of Brazilian flair – if not without flaws. Furthermore, his flowing locks evoke an Samson-like quality. Not yet broken.

If not about talent, this Brazil side have rested on passion this summer. From singing the national anthem beyond the end of the musical accompaniment, to the muscular tactics which defined victory over Colombia, it's been anything but a virtuoso Brazil showing. As a player who has campaigned both of those aspects, Luiz is tailor-made for the role required.

His goal and subsequent celebration against Colombia, a breath-taking 30-yard free-kick followed by an evocative point to the skies, was a dress rehearsal for capturing the nation's hearts. With Neymar injury-stricken and a country in mourning, Luiz's timing could not have been better.

Not only the leader of a fractured back four which is without suspended captain Thiago Silva, Luiz will perform the role of both skipper and talisman in Belo Horizonte. Though his technical flaws, regularly exposed in the Premier League with Chelsea, have been masked somewhat during this World Cup, even he must share out the responsibility of holding off three-time world champions Germany.

Those in chief support also have a Chelsea link. In Oscar and Willian, Brazil require a dual effect in the attacking third. Having adopted a restrictive midfield role, Neymar's absence should allow for more licence for Oscar in front of Luiz Gustavo, while in Willian Brazil have the closest thing to Neymar.

What is encouraging however if that Brazil's adoring support nor Scolari have allowed Neymar's absence to damage their belief, something Joachim Low, whose side's hopes are now not so reliant on one individual, will be well aware.

A new talisman has been anointed, but Brazil still expects.