Going two and a half games without scoring can be troubling for any centre-forward, but especially when the goalless run comes on home soil in the most important football competition on the planet.
The first 228 minutes of Fred’s FIFA World Cup™ campaign were not easy. The Brazil No 9 came in for some heavy criticism, and was even the target of boos from some fans during the match against Cameroon in Brasilia.
Then, early in the second half, deliverance came for the hard-working attacker when Fernandinho found David Luiz on the left, the central defender played the ball into the box, and Fred, all alone, finished with aplomb.
That strike helped the host nation clinch top spot in Group A and secure a place in the Round of 16. As well as contributing to the 4-1 win, the Fluminense forward knew his goal would provide a huge boost, both for him and the team, prior to the four games that Brazil hope lie ahead in this World Cup.
I’m thrilled to have scored. I’ve been getting a lot of criticism, but it hasn’t upset me too much, because I know the other players in the squad are right behind me, and that has really encouraged me.
Fred told FIFA. “I’m thrilled to have scored. I’ve been getting a lot of criticism, but it hasn’t upset me too much, because I know the other players in the squad are right behind me, and that has really encouraged me. They’ve seen the way I’ve been playing, and how I perform in training every day. Thanks to God, everything worked out. Now we can continue to grow together as a team. It’s a vital moment for us. I want to make sure I keep scoring, and help the team progress,” he added.
Fred can also take comfort from his memories of the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup. In last year’s competition he failed to score in the first two games against Japan and Mexico, with his first goal coming in a 4-2 win against Italy in the third match. Coincidentally or not, his goal that day was also Brazil’s third. And that goal, just like the one today, also came in the second half.
After breaking his duck last June, the 30-year-old went on to score in every game. He notched the opening goal both in the semi-final against Uruguay and in the final against Spain. So could history repeat itself in the World Cup?
“My memories of last year give me a lot of confidence and encouragement," he said. "I’m going to give all I’ve got to make sure I keep scoring. The whole team, not just me, took a big step forward today. It was a team effort, which I really depend on. When our team plays with that kind of spirit, everyone performs better,” he added, before concluding: “Of course we have Neymar, who is a great individual talent and makes a real difference, but when we play as a unit, everyone shines. Everything worked out perfectly today.”