How Fred Succeeded Serginho as Brazil's World Cup Scapegoat

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How Fred Succeeded Serginho as Brazil's World Cup Scapegoat
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Every World Cup disaster brings about scapegoats from Brazil, from Barbosa in 1950 to Serginho Chulapa in 1982 and even Felipe Melo in 2010. Where there's pain, blame can be assigned and given the magnitude of the country's collapse against Germany this time around there will be plenty of blame.

In light of that shocking 7-1 defeat, much of the immediate anger has been aimed at coach Felipao and his selection errors over the course of the tournament. His contract is up and he will likely retreat into a backroom job with Gremio where he will hope to stay out of the limelight for a while at least.

Of the playing staff, there are several whose international careers are now likely done and dusted. Dante may never recover from the calamities against Germany, both Dani Alves and Maicon are the wrong side of 30 and Julio Cesar is unlikely to return for the national team.

The likes of Fernandinho and Hulk, meanwhile, will be fretting over their future involvement. David Luiz will recover but faces fierce scrutiny after his one-man horror show on Tuesday night.

But, if there is one player who seems destined to be cast as the long-term villain of the piece it is surely striker Fred. Helpless in the clash with Germany, it seems perhaps unfair that he should be pinned for the failure. However, the Fluminense man was always destined to be under the microscope.

It was accepted before the tournament that he would come in for scrutiny should he fail to score goals, with his contribution outside the penalty area limited at best. With one goal in six games, the critics predictably emerged.

The issue for Brazil and coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was a lack of competition for the centre-forward with backup Jo also out-of-form. No other striker even made the final selection. Compared to Brazilian forwards of years gone past, so the outcry has been, this is an embarrassing moment for the selecao.

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However, it is not the first time the lack of a top No. 9 has been a major concern for Brazil and the leading source of complaint among fans. After all, lead centre-forward in 1982, Serginho Chulapa, is perhaps the most maligned of all time.

The similarities between Brazil's side in 1982 and 2014 end there. Serginho was much maligned predominantly due to the technical strength of the side behind him.

Spearheading an attack containing the likes of Rivelino, Zico, Socrates and Eder was the physical but uninspiring forward. It was a major contradiction but Serginho, like Fred, was not as poor as many would like to claim.

What adds to the feeling among many fans that Serginho was the biggest issue in the Brazil side was that both Reinaldo and Careca were ruled out of the side through injury. He was not first choice and people knew it.

What Serginho and Fred do have in common is that both boast impressive goalscoring records for club and country. In the right side, both could be highly effective pivots.

Given Brazil's all-round malaise, Fred will never be as maligned as his predecessor who was seen as the predominant hindrance to the side. This time around that accusation would simply fail to hold up.

Neither player will ever be given the credit they deserve for impressive careers at the top level mainly due to their image of failing to match expectations of what a Brazilian No. 9 should represent.

Whether he becomes Brazil's scapegoat or not, Fred's reputation will be forever scarred by this summer's tournament. He may be no Ronaldo or Romario, but in the right side he can be highly effective. Following the travails of recent weeks, that will almost certainly be forgotten.

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