The 1970 side had a host of great forwards so only Silva, the classy Paris St Germain defender and Brazil captain, would edge his way into the team ahead of Wilson Piazza, the former Corinthians and Fluminense player said.
"If you look at the back, Thiago Silva would get in the 1970 team," he said in an interview. "Piazza was a great player, but he wasn't a central defender, he was adapted from midfield. You can't ignore a player like Thiago Silva. He has real quality."
Rivelino lamented the lack of strikers and said that for perhaps the first time Brazil go into a World Cup with a better back four than forward line.
The country of Pele, Ronaldo and Romario has few attractive options up front, a worry considering each of the World Cup triumphs included a deadly attacking duo.
"Brazil always had great attackers who could decide a game at any moment," he told Reuters at an interview at his eponymous soccer school.
"If you go back, in 1958 it was Pele and Vava; in 1962, Pele and Vava; in 1970, Pele and Tostao. Then Bebeto and Romario (in 1994) and then Rivaldo and Ronaldo (in 2002).
"And there were other players alongside them. But there were two important players, one or the other was always on hand. Today we have one, Fred, who has a nose for goal, but the ball has to come to him, he doesn't make goals himself."
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has guaranteed a place for Fluminense striker Fred in the 23-man squad he will name on Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro.
Former Manchester City and Everton centre forward Jo, who is now with Atletico Mineiro, is expected to be his back up.
Both players have their limitations, with Fred lacking mobility and suffering from a number of injuries in recent seasons, and Jo, who was substituted after 15 minutes of Atletico Mineiro's loss to Goias at the weekend, not in the top echelon of strikers.
If Fred or Barcelona forward Neymar, who has 30 goals in 47 international matches, were injured or lacking form Brazil could struggle to hit the back of the net, with Rivelino saying Scolari should pick an extra attacker to compensate.
"I wouldn't take four central defenders, I'd take three and another striker," he said.
"I'd take (Sao Paulo's) Luis Fabiano. He doesn't have to be first choice but he's there as an option. I think he's an interesting player and if he has to play he won't be afraid because he's been there before."
Such thinking has become more pronounced in Brazil in recent days, with the names of AC Milan's Robinho and new Sao Paulo signing Alan Kardec also being put forward as options.
- Sports & Recreation
- Thiago Silva