Casemiro and Fred

Why United pair are crucial for Brazil

Monday 28 November 2022 13:02

Former World Cup winner Gilberto Silva believes Casemiro and Fred are key to Brazil's hopes of going all the way at Qatar 2022.

The Manchester United pair are tipped to start the Selecao's game with Switzerland later today (16:00 GMT kick-off), as the tournament favourites look to clinch a place in the knockout stages with a game to spare.

Fred was only introduced off the bench in the 2-0 win over Serbia but is reportedly poised to come into Tite's XI.

Fred's secret weapon with Brazil


Our midfield man says he is able to get advice on what it is like to lift the World Cup.

Former Arsenal midfielder Gilberto Silva, who lifted the trophy in 2002 and is now Fred's agent, is in no doubt about the influence the Reds duo can exert on the biggest stage.

"Casemiro started alongside Lucas Paqueta in Brazil's first group game," he told BBC Sport. "But he finished the game alongside his usual partner for the national team, his Manchester United team-mate Fred. I have watched them play many matches together now and, for Brazil, they have lost only once - the 2021 Copa America final against Argentina.

"It works very well because Casemiro sits at the back, like I did, and Fred is more mobile, like Kleberson was when he was next to me in our midfield at the 2002 World Cup. But Fred is also defensively strong. He is not just in front of Casemiro, he plays alongside him too and helps him do his job. They have an understanding now and I'm hoping this partnership will work well again at this World Cup. If we are going to win it, it will play such an important part."

Casemiro was outstanding in the victory over Serbia but Gilberto Silva believes United's summer signing's performances can go under the radar, particularly considering the dazzling array of attacking talent at Brazil's disposal.

"My job when Brazil won the 2002 World Cup was to be invisible on the pitch," he added. "If I did it right, it made things easier for the players in front of me, as well as for myself. It is the same situation now for Casemiro, the defensive midfielder, who is at the heart of this Brazil team trying to end our 20-year wait to win it again. He has a great responsibility in my old position. 

"You have to be smart to play as a holding midfielder for an attack-minded side like Brazil, and you also have to be patient. Let me explain why.

"It is not just about being the tough player, the one who tackles everyone. That is only one small part of the whole role, and even then you have to be clever to choose the right time to actually put a challenge in. Instead, you have to read the game and understand where you should be, which is usually in the middle of everything.

"Your position is the most important thing. If you choose the right line on the pitch then, from there, you can see everything and spot any danger - well, most of the time. For me with Brazil, that usually meant having a few attacking guys further forward and only the centre-backs behind me, with the full-backs in a line between them. If you watch Casemiro, that is where he is too.

"From there, you are the one controlling things. You are in control when the ball goes from one side to another - even if you don't touch it - simply because you are where you need to be.

TeamViewer Diaries: Fred Video

TeamViewer Diaries: Fred

TeamViewer Diaries | Fred discusses the World Cup, our dressing room and what he wants to achieve in the new year...

"Against Serbia, it would have been easy for him to go forward in a game where we had lots of possession, but he only touched the ball once in the final third of the field - when Brazil were 2-0 up with 12 minutes to go, and he hit the bar with a shot from outside the area.

"Instead he kept his discipline, held his territory and was always ready in case we lost the ball. Even when he got it back, he knew that, in his position, he did not need to run with it.

"I was the same. I always thought that at some point the guys up front would lose the ball and that is the time when I would have to run - to get it back, and give it to them to try again!"