Scrutiny of the Brazilian national team was to be expected as the hosts came into the tournament as favorites. Two poor performances in a row, however, have raised further eyebrows. A fortunate 3-1 victory to kick-off the tournament against Croatia, followed by a disappointing 0-0 draw with Mexico have left the hosts with 4 points, and albeit atop their group, still not qualified with one game to go -- today against Cameroon

Much of the media criticism is aimed at striker Fred, who has started both matches and has looked slow, uncreative, and innefective. The Fluminese #9 seems to be lost on the pitch surrounded by stars such as Neymar and Oscar, but the tactical significance of his unproductive play is of huge implications to Luis Felipe Scolari's squad. Anything but a World Cup title will be seen as a disappointment, and thus far, the team has indicated that they are anything but capable of claiming the Cup -- with Fred's quality coming into question time and time again.

BBC pundit Alan Shearer has come out in full force against the striker. "I just don’t understand why Brazil are still picking him,” the former England and Newcastle striker said. “He doesn’t move, he doesn’t shoot and he’s dragging the team down. I don’t know if Brazil should change the system or play Neymar as a false nine but the fact is that Fred is not the answer for what they are doing now.”

The comments seemed to have ignited a bit of a firestorm in Brazil, with defender Dani Alves calling the analysis "idiotic". From a neutral perspecive, though, Shearer's examination seems to be spot on. The statistics only strengthen his argument: in 158 minutes Fred has only produced one chance -- a header from a corner; against Croatia he only completed 10 accurate passes, and during 68 minutes on the pitch against Mexico only half of his 16 passes found their target. To add to it all, he has lost the ball 17 times. 

Seemingly, the only positive that Fred has created for his squad is winning the penalty on opening day -- which was a clear dive. While his lack of confidence is evident, his coach seems unperturped and might actually start the forward against Cameroon today. Whether it's in hopes of improving the strikers conviction moving forward, or simply out of managerial stubborness, is well beyond the understanding of this pundit.