It’s fair to say that Brazil have been a bit up and down so far in the World Cup, although they did advance to the knockout stages with a comfortable win over Cameroon in their final group game. That game against Cameroon was arguably their best performance so far, although that too was a flawed performance from the Selecao.
The problems Brazil are encountering are more than any one player, but their striker in particular, Fred, is going to have to improve for the home nation as Brazil move forward in the tournament. Fred has one goal so far, which is less than I’m sure Luis Felipe Scolari was hoping for from his main striker, but his general play has been even further below par than his goal return has.
Fred is a goal scorer; his anticipation is brilliant, his movement is sharp and his finishing ability is deadly. But if Fred is not scoring goals, then what exactly is he doing? The answer so far in this World Cup is nothing. He’s doing nothing to help the team and has rarely even touched the ball in some games. He is capable of more, though, and Brazil are going to really need it going forward.
Any striker can have a phase where they are not scoring, but in the absence of goals, Brazil need something else from their main striker. At this stage of his career, Fred is not going to run the channels too much or try to run in behind a defense, but he can still link up with the attackers he has behind him and give the team a focal point with his back to goal.
He can give somebody like Neymar a body to play off or somebody like Oscar a link to play around; he can contribute in ways other than just scoring. Eventually, though, the goals will need to return also for the Fluminense striker for Brazil to have success moving forward.
The Selecao have heavily relied on Neymar so far, and but for his goals in this tournament, Brazil would be out already. To avoid that fate in the knockout rounds, Brazil are going to need more than just Neymar against the better teams in the competition, and Fred is a player who must contribute more than he has if Brazil are to go deep into the knockout stages — much less win the whole thing.