If there was one Brazil player who might have cause to be thankful to Germany for delivering that fearful 7-1 semi-final hammering, it would be the widely mocked striker Fred.
For, in capitulating so feebly to the eventual winners, much of the attention for the hosts’ failings shifted from the hapless Fred to the horrendous Brazil defence.
True, the Fluminense forward was booed as he left the pitch 20 minutes from the end of that historic annihilation, but history will show that his role in that defeat was in keeping with his performance throughout the tournament, that is, largely peripheral.
Indeed, his most memorable contribution to Brazil’s cause was the blatant dive he performed to ‘earn’ a penalty in the opening game of the tournament against Croatia. Hard though it was to believe it at the time, but this was as good as it got for the blunt spearhead of Brazil’s attack.
Since the World Cup, the 30-year-old, who wisely announced his retirement from international football immediately after the finals, has returned to domestic duty. Unfortunately, the old adage about form being temporary and class being permanent is proving particularly apposite in Fred’s case. He has managed just one goal from five outings thus far.
On Sunday night, with Fluminense trailing Botafogo 2-0, an opportunity to boost that strike rate presented itself when the visitors were awarded a penalty kick. Up stepped Fred and blazed the ball wide of the post.
The reaction of many players to missing a penalty is to examine the turf, suggesting that the devilishly uneven playing surface was responsible for the mis-hit. Not Fred, though. No, he identifies the culprit straight away. The striker immediately reaches down and starts examining his right foot, as if he too knows that this is not a foot suited to kicking a football.