terça-feira, julho 08, 2014

Miracle Man Fred

Just about everyone on the planet outside of Brazil wonders "Why Fred?" or even worse "Who's Fred?".

That's somewhat understandable. Fred is one of the few players on the Brazilian National team that play in Brazil and has played in Brazil for many years. Besides a 4 year stint at Lyon, Fred has always played in Brazil and since 2009 has been at Fluminense. So outsiders (meaning foreign press and foreign fans) are not familiar with Fred and his knack for goals and being the goto man in tough situations.

One story will give you insight as to why Fred should not be written off and why he can be the man to get Brazil over the top.

In 2009 Fred had just returned from France to play for Rio's Fluminense. Flu was struggling throughout the Brasileirão and when Fred was sidelined with an injury that took him out for 3 Months things only got worse. Fluminense was on the brink of relegation to the 2nd division. Not only on the brink, but almost virtually with a 98% chance of relegation. With 10 matches to go and sitting in last place with a pathetic record, the math was fairly straight forward. Fluminense had to win 7 or maybe all of the matches to escape. They could not afford to lose another match, something they had done 14 times in 28 matches. So far in 28 rounds they had only won 4 games. For a team that couldn't put together 2 wins in a row all year, winning 7 or 8 out of 10 seemed impossible. They had been in the relegation zone since week 10.

Still not fully recovered but feeling the pressure to return and help his team, Fred came back in the 29th round with 10 matches to go. Right away he scored in Fluminense's win over Santo André. The miracle run was on it's way. Game after game with Fred back in the lineup the team started playing better and started winning. Soon they faced the leader Cruzeiro at the Mineirão in Belo Horizonte and quickly went down 2-0. But in the second half the miracle continued and Fluminense flipped the score 3-2 with 2 more Fred goals (see video below). In the sequence of the last 10 matches Fred scored 10 goals, Fluminense won 7 matches and tied 3. No losses. They escaped relegation in the last round by a margin of 1 point. Fred had almost single handedly saved Fluminense.

Even more incredible is that the following season Fluminense led by Fred won the Brasileirão. They had gone from almost worst, to first. In 2012 they repeated and won the championship again. Ironically in 2013 they went from first to relegation...but were saved in the courts due to another teams illegal use of a player that was suspended, but that's besides the point here.

The point is there's a reason why Fred has the number 9 jersey for Brazil. Most of the world unfortunately doesn't follow Brazilian Club soccer and probably scratches their heads at the selection. But Fred is a man of destiny. A man that saves teams, scores goals with his stomach, from the ground and any which way possible. He may have not had a great World Cup so far, but by no means should you right him off. There is a good chance that he will shine against Germany even more so now that Brazil needs him more than ever. No Neymar to save the day. The fact that Belo horizonte and the Mineirão is where he started doesn't hurt either.

PS: This video shows the ressurection starting in the 33rd round when Fluminense faced the leader Cruzeiro...at the Mineirão. Cruzeiro took a 2-0 lead but Flu flipped the score with two Fred goals. He didn't celebrate out of respect to his old team. The video clearly shows the Miracle he pulled off .