What a difference a couple of days make. Defeat to bitter rivals and fellow title contenders Flamengo last weekend, stuck on a Mexican bench for Brazil (Hulk and Jonas were preferred) on Tuesday night, one could have expected Fred to have been feeling a little bit sorry for himself. Not a chance, not with Fluminense needing the points and their captain. What a player!
Brazil’s top clubs splashed out for a chartered flight bring their overworked stars straight back to Brazil on Tuesday night. The idea was to get them back in time to play in Wednesday night’s important Serie A fixtures. A very tough ask for the likes of Ronaldinho and Neymar, who have played more than 50 games each so far this year if you ask me. As it happened, the private flight was delayed and those players due to play on Wednesday night (like Ronaldinho) missed their game (Neymar and Santos played on Thursday night by the way. Neymar was tired, frustrated and got sent off as Santos lost again). Luckily for Fluminense and Fred, they were playing on Thursday night.
So back in Brazil and straight into Fluminense’s starting line-up against Coriba Fred went. He captained them to victory and scored a hat trick including an amazing bicycle kick in a 3-1 win. On Sunday, Fred and Fluminense went to São Paulo to take on Palmeiras. Fluminense won 2-1 with Fred scoring both of their goals again.
Why doesn’t he show this kind of form for Brazil? Actually he hasn’t really been given much of a chance and when he does play he normally does quite well: he scored Brazil’s only goal against Romania in Ronaldo’s farewell game in June in a 30 minute run out and he spared Brazil’s blushes against Paraguay in the Copa America. Remember of course that he very rarely starts games for Brazil. What if he did? He is an unfashionable choice and I myself admit that I often overlook him as a very important attacking option for Brazil.
On his day he is unplayable, impossible to get the ball off. A real leader on the pitch and never shirks his responsibilities. He always steps up to take vital penalties and very rarely missed them (except on that joke of a pitch in the Copa America). I remember earlier this season in Argentina, against all the odds, he dragged Fluminense into the next round of the Copa Libertadores with two goals in their 4-2 win against Argentinos Juniors. Two years ago with Fluminense deep in the relegation zone, he almost single handedly pulled them out with some brilliant performances and goals.
He isn’t a glamour player and his off-field discipline can be questioned at times but I’m 99% sure all Fluminense fans would tell you that they wouldn’t swap him for anybody in the world. Does he deserve more chances in the seleção?
Crazy days in the Serie A by the way with only four points separating the top five teams with eight games to play. Fantastic action ahead and more to come on that in the coming weeks of course.