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Low-key start to Brazilian championship

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Tim Vickery | 08:55 UK time, Monday, 11 May 2009

The biggest criticism that I could make of the organisation of Brazilian football is as follows - on the opening weekend of the national championship, the leading star in the entire competition was rested.

Ronaldo is fit and in form, looking full of goals in yet another remarkable comeback - and Corinthians decided not to pick him for Sunday's 1-0 defeat at home to Internacional.

And he is by no means the only big name who took no part in the opening round; Corinthians left out some other first-choice players, Palmeiras rested 2002 World Cup winning keeper Marcos and Sport gave a break to striker Wilson.

Anyone acquainted with the strengths of the league system will be astonished at this. All over the world the big kick-off is one of - if not the - highlights of the footballing calendar. It comes after a lengthy break from competitive action.

The fan is desperate to get back inside the stadium and see his new-look team. There has been time for the opening game to be marketed properly, and by going to the early games the fan builds up an identification with the team that sustains him through the long months of the season.

The idea of choosing not to be at full strength for the first game doesn't get a look-in.Brazil switched to a league system - everyone playing everyone else - in 2003. It took the great advantage of the format - the competition starts hot because three points in the first round are as valuable as three points in the last - and threw it away.

There is no pause before the start of the 38-match campaign. The wretched State Championships come to a close on the preceding Sunday. Meanwhile, the important knock-out competitions - the Libertadores and the Brazilian Cup - are going into the vital stage.

This is why Ronaldo took no part in Sunday's game. His goals helped Corinthians win the Sao Paulo title and have ensured qualification for the quarter-final of the cup, whose first leg is in midweek. So he was given a breather to ensure there is gas left in the tank on Wednesday night.

And so the big kick-off in the league was a damp squib. The weekend's round was full of games that on paper should have had them queueing five times round the block; Corinthians against Inter, Cruzeiro and Flamengo, Gremio and Santos. But it was all so low-key.

I was at the match between Fluminense and Sao Paulo. By rights it should have been huge. These are two teams full of tradition, the visitors have won the last three league titles and the hosts have recently signed international striker Fred. The crowd in the giant Maracana stadium? - 14,574.

Much is being made in Brazil of the fact that all three strikers from the last World Cup squad are now back in the country - as well as Ronaldo and Fred, Adriano has just rejoined Flamengo.

Adriano at the press conference to announce his move to Flamengo

These, undoubtedly, are wonderful players. But I don't think Brazilian football should be patting itself on the back just yet. None of them have returned because of the strength of the local game.

In Ronaldo's case, he has come back across the Atlantic after suffering yet another knee injury. For a while not even he was sure if he would be able to play again, and after years without managing a sequence of games European clubs were understandably reluctant to take a chance on him.

And while I am attacking the organisation of Brazilian football, at this point I should pay tribute to the country's culture of sports medicine. This is not the first time that Brazilian specialists have triumphed where the Europeans failed.

In 2002 Inter Milan were unable to get Ronaldo back to fitness. Brazil's physical preparation team got to work, and he was the star man in that year's World Cup. And now, after years of breakdowns with Real Madrid and Milan, Corinthians seem to have done the job.

And if Ronaldo's problem in Europe was physical, with both Fred and Adriano it was mental. The pair had been in Europe for a while - Adriano for much longer than Fred - and were uncomfortable with the lifestyle. They missed friends, family members, old neighbourhoods and so on.

Living abroad is not for everyone. In the 80s, when British players moved overseas to further their careers the great Hugh McIlvanney wrote that the average one was "so reluctant to immerse himself in the ways of his adopted country that he might be expected to take the field with a return ticket tucked into his sock".

Adriano and Fred had got themselves in that category. They have made some money in Europe and now decided to come back - but for social reasons, not footballing ones.

If Brazilian football wants its stars to come back for more positive motives - as a definite choice over the European game rather than fleeing from the cold, the language or food that is not to their taste - then a rethink on the organisation of the game is imperative.

A calendar so incompetent that it wastes the magic of the big kick-off hardly deserves the return of top-class players.

Comments on this week's piece in the space provided. Any other questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag;

Q) In recent times football fans have heard of Kerlon, Pato, Renato Augusto, Bruno, Maxi Biancucchi, Keirrson and Thiago Neves. Who, in your opinion, is the next big star that we should all know and can look forward to seeing?
Conrad Gibbons

A) There's a couple of strange names on your list. Kerlon looked great as an Under-17, but, largely because of injuries, he's reached 21 without doing anything at senior level. And Maxi Biancucchi is better known as Messi's cousin than for anything he's achieved.

Some names to look out for - Nicolas Lodeiro had a terrific South American Under-20 Championship for Uruguay and has carried that form into the Libertaores with Nacional. Stocky left footed figure who makes the game flow - he usually knows what he's going to do with the ball before it reaches him.

In Brazil Taison of Internacional is very exciting - a young striker with extraordinary pace. His club-mate central midfielder Sandro has a future as well.
From Argentina I'm a fan of Boca's classy centre back Juan Daniel Forlin, and I have high hopes for Ecuador's Jefferson Montero, an attacking midfielder with excellent dribbling skills.

Q) There are various rumours around the internet that clubs from Major League Soccer in America will be the next league outside of Conmebol (the South American Federation) to be granted invites to the Copa Libertadores in the near future. Regardless of whether the rumours have any legs, what is your opinion of MLS teams entering the Copa Libertadores?
John Pettit

A) I've no inside track on this one, but I'm not particularly keen on them coming into South America's premier club competition. I know Mexico are invited - though that's hit a problem, with the Mexicans now pulling out not just of this year's Libertadores, but of all South American competitions.

For me there are obvious problems with MLS clubs in the Libertadores. One is travelling time and distance. South America is vast enough as it is without heading further north. Another is the effect on the Concacaf region - with the US and Mexico (assuming the row smoothes over) both in, clubs from the likes of Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Jamaica and so are getting squeezed out, and that doesn't seem right to me.

One idea - and something which is tentatively taking place - is to use the competition in the second half of the year for more contact between the Americas. Originally Conmebol planned to organise it as a Pan-American Cup. That fell through, and it's called the Sul/Sud- Americana or South American Cup - but it usually includes Mexican teams and others from Concacaf as well - I remember DC United taking part one year. So perhaps there's room for experimentation with this second cup - maybe it can grow into a genuinely Pan-American thing.

It is an awkward thing to organise between two conferences - but, perhaps anticipating the next question down the line, I can't see that Conmebol has anything to gain from a formal merger with Concacaf.


  • Comment number 1.


    What does the future hold for Adriano? I read that he is only on a one-year deal. Would it be likely for him to return to Europe again? He is only 27 after all, so he should be hitting his peak.

    I always thought he was an immense player, could he one day turn up in the Premier League and do a job?

  • Comment number 2.

    Tim, from reading regularly it is apparent you are clearly very passionate about the Brazilan State Championships affecting the standard and quality of the main competitions.

    I have to agree with you, it seems a mess of a system, saturating fans with meaningless games that dampen the enthusiasm for the real championship.

    However I am very interested in the return of what were some of the big names from Europe to this seasons Championship. Ronaldo seemed an obvious one, serious injuries had left him almost untouchable for the major European clubs and a return to Brazil seemed the ideal place for him to rebuild his career, albeit in the latter stages.

    Fred and Adriano interest me more, 2 players more in their prime rather than decline, in football terms. However, both seem to have struggled with the mental aspects of European football. Adriano in particular has had a troubled 3 or 4 years, and clearly his issues have affected him physically as he now looks heavy and a shadow of the player I watched in awe starring for Inter in the Champions League in 2004.

    I was more surprised at Fred going to Brazil, he seemed to have a good reputation in France with an impressive list of admirers. How will the return to Brazil affect the chances of international recognition? Is the move viewed as a step down in the national managers eyes as the Brazlian league isn't as strong as the top European leagues, or is it of benefit to the players being at home, becoming easier to watch regularly along with the media support if they are performing well.

    To finish off, do you think Adriano can come back to the level he was at around 2004/05, or has he lost his desire?

  • Comment number 3.

    "If Brazilian football wants its stars to come back for more positive motives - as a definite choice over the European game rather than fleeing from the cold, the language or food that is not to their taste - then a rethink on the organisation of the game is imperative." - Who knows? You might have just hit the nail on the coffin with this one because you just cannot put money over Family.

    I remember when South American Football League used to be the real deal.

  • Comment number 4.

    I honestly think Adriano's reputation in the UK has come from the fact he was the best player BY A MILE in Pro Evolution Soccer 2006.

    They purposely made him unplayable as he was advertising the game (remember the advert where he and John Terry were passing the ball to each other through the TV)- I know this sounds stupid, but after 3 months of that game being out, all my mates were suddenly saying Adriano was the best striker in Europe, when they hadn't even heard of him before the games release.

    I think he had 2 truly good seasons at Inter, but this was during the Italian match fixing years, so how much can you take from any stats during those games?

    I'm not pretending I know anything at all about south american club football, but if Lucas Leiva of Liverpool was the young player of the year for Brazil two seasons ago (for Gremio I belive), I fear for the future of Brazilian football. He is so slow its scary...

  • Comment number 5.


    You gotta give it to him, Adriano does have one HELL of a left peg on him in that game!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Tell me about it.

    Although I got quite good at using England, whover you played online was either Inter milan or Brazil.

    Either way, it was "pass the ball to Adriano and shoot". No matter where you were in the oppostion half, if it was on target it wouldn't be saved.

  • Comment number 7.

    Saw Adriano play for Inter a few years back in a pre-season friendly at Bolton, and he was unstoppable - scored a couple and could have had more. He was strong, pacey and had incredible positional sense to find even the smallest gap in the defence.

    The thing that interests me is that he got out of his contract at Inter because he said he didn't want to play football any more, and has now promptly signed for Flamengo! Can't help thinking that will reflect badly on him in the future when negotiating terms with any potential new clubs...

  • Comment number 8.

    To be fair, I don't doubt that some people heard of Adriano through Pro Evo, but to suggest we only think he is a good player because of that is a little insulting to a lot of people here who have a genuine interest in South American players.

    My interest came from his explosive performances for Inter in 04/05, which I watched on the Champions League. He was outstanding that season, Pro Evo had nothing to do with it.

  • Comment number 9.

    Re posts 4 and 5- pro evo games always seem to have at least one unplayable striker. In the most recent edition a certain Mr. Samuel Eto'o seems to be the one everyone plays with!

  • Comment number 10.

    I am delighted to read that Ronaldo is finding form again even though it is the swan song of his career. For me he is the best centre forward of the last 15 years. Obviously he has suffered considerably from injuries but in his heyday 96-98 he WAS unplayable. I remarked whistfully to my girfriend as Eto'o (the most over-rated player in the world) spurned another chance ' how many goals would Ronaldo of scored if he'd being playing for this Barca side?' I think 50 easy!!!
    As for Adriano I never thought that much of him but do remember the cannon of a left foot goal he scored against Greece in the 2005 confederations cup. Alas that was as good as he got.

  • Comment number 11.

    Adriano was excellent for Inter around 4 years ago. I remember him ripping Valencia to shreds in the Mestalla when Inter beat them 5-1. Adriano could have become a great player but he just doesn't seem to have the mentality or desire any more.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi Tim, interesting Blog, as usual!

    I was watching the (thrice cursed) Paulista final a while back, and I noticed a wily little Santos player called Madson. 1m 57 tall! But great pace and trickery in those little legs. Itw as the first time I'd heard of him. Did he just have a good game, or is het genuinely an exciting prospect?

  • Comment number 13.

    Suggesting that Adriano was unknown before PRO EVO is totally wrong and insulting to the player. He was well known before 2006 when he was one of the best strikers in Europe from 03-05. He was also very good for Brazil in the Confederations cup and Copa America, to suggest otherwise is ignorant.
    Adriano went back to Brazil for the simple reason that he lost interest in football. He was always out partying etc. The situation for Adriano and Inter is much like Ronaldinho and Barcalona. I don't think anyone would be willing to chance him in Europe ever agains, especially as he is 27.

  • Comment number 14.

    Most real fans knew how strong and powerful the striker was, and to be honest, I didn't mention his ability, so I'm not insulting him.

    I just think the hype around the player was over the top due to the game- at a time when Henry and Van Nistelrooy were destroying a scandel-less league, for some people to say he was the best striker in Europe on the back of a game sponsered by him was a bit naive.

    I wasn't suggesting he was a bad player at all.

  • Comment number 15.

    MLS would love to enter the Copa Libertadores. It's a strong league with plenty of talent, but can't make the next step up without entering BIG competitions that people want to see so they can earn that respectability. They need the financial boost and the chance to compete for something that the world pays attention too.

    That said, it was the USL-1 teams (Puerto Rico Islanders and Montreal Impact) who impressed in the CONACAF, so perhaps they're not quite ready. Although, they are regularly beating Mexican teams, so....

  • Comment number 16.

    #14 1ronjaw

    Your ignorance is incredible. If you knew anything about the Itaian league, you would know that Inter were the team that was hard done by in the scandal, and thus Adriano's goals in matches involving Juve-picked referees should not be devalued, perhaps the opposite in fact. Also, before that at Parma he was scoring bagfuls of goals. What's your excuse for his fine performances at times for Brazil, eg. Copa America? The only people who would base somebody's ability and quality from a computer game are those that do nut understand football.

    As far as Mexico's rupture with CONMEBOL goes, this will surely be a massive blow. I'm not sure how the loss of Copa Libertadores & Sudamericana will effect the league financially, but surely players coming from the South American leagues will not be as keen to go to a Mexican club as when they had pan-continental exposure. The national team will also be hit badly without competitive games against America's top nations.

  • Comment number 17.


    I just wondered what your thoughts are on the idea of computer game related hype in regards games like Football Manager and promsing South American players? Is it a real issue that can potentially damage people's career or is it at worst a minor annoyance for journalists such as yourself to constantly be asked about players who have yet to play a first team game?

    I'm thinking of players like Kerlon, Lulinha and Filipe Melo who were given the same potential as Ronaldinho or Kaka on Football Manager but who have in real life (without meaning to imply failure) developed into lesser players. However based on those FM ratings from a few years ago countless armchair fans if they see such players suddenly appear in a UEFA cup match or late night Spanish/Italian game will exclaim how brilliant these players are despite having probably never seen them on TV before.

    You also have players like Martin Galvan in Mexico who has been rated as a wonderkid on Football Manager for three years despite the fact I believe he's still only about 16!

    Are scouts or fellow journalists ever swayed by a reputation from a football game that turns into pub chat that suddenly becomes a rumour on the street and next thing you know a player is getting calls from Russian or minor Spanish, Portuguese clubs etc.

    Be honest, have you ever had a conversation with a journalist and got the distinct impression he's talking about the computer game player rather than the actual person who he/she couldn't pick out in a line up?

  • Comment number 18.

    At age 24, I am most delighted to hear that the best striker in my generation and problably in the last 2 decades is finding form again.. they say form is temporary but class is permanent.. I always had the feeling that Ronaldo wil come back good and could future in his 4th world cup for Brazil as there aren't great competitors for the no 9 spot...I will be more than happy to see him come back to Europe to play perhaps Man City could take a gamble and his goal return will definitely be remarkable... how many goals has he got for Corinthians now Tim and how many matches has he played?

  • Comment number 19.

    I am fairly sure Adriano circa 04/05 season was one of the best strikers in the world, but if I'm not mistaken the death of his father in 2004 ultimately led to his decline. He had problems with alcohol afterwards if I remember correctly, and although he has shown glimpses of his ability since, he has never been quite the same player and I suspect he never will be again.

  • Comment number 20.

    Ironjaw, it is extremely ignorant to say that the hype around Adriano took off because of Pro Evo 6.

    He was also absurdly good in Pro Evo 5.

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi Tim,

    It is great first of al to see your interest on the Brazilian League. It is rare to get someone here in Europe to talk about the Brazilian and other South American Leagues even though Argentina is the actual Olympic Champions and Brazil has 5 World Cup under the belt.
    But I must say you miss the point in regards to the importance, from a Brazilian point of view, of the opening games.
    In old times when we used to have the Group style of leagues we always, as Brazilians, learnt to give value only to the FINAL. The games throughout the season are followed and people used to talk about it but the Final was the main point.
    Nowadays, with the league system, the games throughout the season are important and much more than before but always as a whole.
    Most of all(and this is where it moves away form the European Leagues) in Brazil, the tournments are NOT a procession of one, two or maximum four clubs as Spain, England, Scotland and even Italy are.
    This eyar your team may win the title and next year be acrapping from relegation just as well. See the example of Santos FC (the team I follow). Just in 2005, with a formation containing Robinho, Elano, Diego & Cia, Santos won the 2005 league. Last year, Santos was saved from relegation only on the last two games of season.
    Corinthians, the so famed winner of the very first FIFA World Cup in 2000, has just been promoted from the second tier.
    In Brazil, the consistency and progress through the games is more important than the first game itself. You know you may lose some games (including the first) but your opponents will do too. the long haul is more important.
    The teams in Brazil, regardless of quality or skills, are much more even matched than their european counterparts.
    In Scotland, a home and away defeat either for Rangers or Celtic, will end the championship outright. In France, If Lyon does not afford to draw the odd game, that's it. In England, if manchester United manages to win most of the Big Matches, it will sail through to the title.
    In the whole Europe, a team losing more than 6 games, will rarely win the league trophy.
    In Brazil, the same club agonizing on the bottom five of the beginning of the league may end up champions.
    All games are just as important as any other in Brazil except for the local derbies and the Corinthians and Flamengo's (the two biggest supporters bases). We spread our hard earned cash between them and watch the rest on TV (it is almost law in Brazil that the OPEN TV (not the pay per view) - Europe:PLEASE LEARN will have the first pick of the games).
    Besides one more littel detail: how many miles would a Sunderland Supporter have to Travel to watch them paly away to Portsmouth? And How many times the travel will be made yearly if this supporter only follows the Premiership?
    Now compare to the mileage that, for example, a Corinthians supporter will have to make to see his team to play Flamengo (and then Fluminense, and Botafogo)? And Internacional, and Gremio, and Sport, etc?
    And costs? The only european country I saw it worse is Russia.
    Because of this, the opening game of the season never attached and may never attach much importance for a Brazilian person.

  • Comment number 23.

    Even though the Brazilian league isnt the best, it is great to see Ronaldo score goals again. His touch and quick feet were always a joy to watch and he looks to retain those skills.

    I urge everybody to check out his goals for Corinthians as one of them is probably the coolest penalty ever.

  • Comment number 24.

    Not to detract from the point, but Adriano was ridiculously good in fifa 2006 as well, so I dont think its very fair to say that he is overrated because he sponsored a Pro Evo Game. I do agree that some people think that Adriano is one of the best strikers in the world, without ever really seen him play, and basing it on attributes in PES. It is a real shame to see him leave Europe, but it seems that he didn't get along too well with Mourinho, perhaps another factor in his departure. Fred is an interesting one, having been so good at Lyon for ages, he seemed to want a move to England that didnt materialise. I think its good for the Brazilian game to see that their old heroes are coming back, and that theres more to football than Europe and huge salaries.

    P.S. Adriano and Ibra- unstoppable in PES 2006

  • Comment number 25.

    If we talking about computer games then anyone who has a PSP should get FM2009 handheld and get Ronaldo on a freebie, the guy is immense!

    In reality though, Adriano was always going to live in Ronaldos shadow and he never managed it. Two great strikers who were meant to cause carnage never happened because the fact is Adriano hates being in the limelight.

    He should have been a wonder player at Inter, instead he got fat, got lazy and injured.

    Ronaldo was the real deal though, at 17 he was a phenom, by 21 he was a global superstar and by 25 he had won everything you could throw at him. Its a shame the last few years have seen to his decline but he will do wonders for the South American game.

    I think the first game of the season is debatable about having your strongest squad out. Im pretty sure if the teams finishing 3rd and 4th in the Premier league have a difficult 2nd leg qualifying for champs league then major players will be rested.

    I think there is also a new wave of brazilian talent on the horizon, for his faults Gomez is still a top shot stopper, the da silva brothers will be awesome and the front two - Pato and Kaka are brilliant

  • Comment number 26.

    Hi Tim.

    With regards Adriano and his loss of appetite for football, I really do feel for him as the death of his father was a contributing factor in him turning to alcohol and, thus, putting on weight. He is one of my favourite players who had (or may still has) the potential to become one of the greatest.

    However, prior to this, it was well documented that he liked to party. Similarly, it was stated that Ronaldinho turned to partying at Barca, therefore, the question I have for you is as follows:

    Clearly, in Europe, drinking and partying, is a big no no. If players find themselves in trouble while on a night out, the papers get hold of this and the players club's reputation is tarnished e.g. Ledley King one recent example; Jonny Evans accusation at the Man Utd Xmas party to name a couple involving UK based players. Thus, in Brazil, is training, playing, and then drinking and partying an acceptable practice? Therefore, Adriano can live the way he really wants, having joined Flamengo, without having this media spotlight on him.

    Just a thought....


  • Comment number 27.

  • Comment number 28.

    Just a silly thing about Ronaldo's comeback.

    Cristiano Ronaldo looks brilliant on this !

  • Comment number 29.

    22 - Jomar777

    As a Santos supporter can I ask you what you make of Bolaños?

    He is expected to join Inter this week but did not play much for Santos in the Campeonato Brasileiro.

  • Comment number 30.


    I'm a long long suffering Middlesbrough I've suffered a lot!
    This season Alfonso Alves hasn't exactly set the World on fire... infact he couldn't hit a barn door from 2 yards... ok the service has been awful to him.. but I was still expecting more.
    If a bigger club signed him, in your opinion could he make the top level, and qualify for WC 2010, is he also well known back in Brazil?


  • Comment number 31.

    Hi Tim,

    Great article again, very interesting points made both about the physical and mental attributes of two great players.

    Just a quick point and not to be pedantic but your reference to an all male support is slightly stereotypical....

    "and see **his** new-look team. There has been time for the opening game to be marketed properly, and by going to the early games the fan builds up an identification with the team that sustains **him** through the long months of the season. "

    just a quick thought..

  • Comment number 32.

    Two thumbs up here for Matt's blog, by the way... although I think it may be slightly wishful thinking on his part that Internacional will be up there this season. My money is on Sao Paulo (again), assuming they can hold onto their best players once the European transfer market re-opens.

  • Comment number 33.

    nice article about why the first matchday is not so popular in Brazil, but I expected a continuation about last week subject, teams retiring in the round of 16 is something historical!

  • Comment number 34.

    Tim i'm a bit disappointed that you haven't commented more on Ronaldo's form. His performances so far have been fantastic and currently he has an exceptional goal ratio.

  • Comment number 35.

    I admit that I hype players from plaing Football Manager and Pro Evo. However, if I see them live i expect VERY little, otherwise it would be very harsh on them.

  • Comment number 36.

    why do people go on about players coming to england and proving everyone wrong? tell me how many players have had a bad spell in their career gone to a weaker league than the big european ones and come back to play in arguably the best league in the world and rip it apart? ronaldo is a class player still no denying but i think it would be too big a gamble for any team, especially man city if hughes stays with the pressure hes under to succeed with the money hes getting, to buy him

  • Comment number 37.

    I don't think the MLS teams are ready to compete in the Libertadores.

    Competitively no MLS team has made the final of the Concacaf Champions Cup when it was a home and away tournament. They embarrassed themselves last year in the newly formed Champions league.

    As far as marketing wise, MLS teams do not get high tv ratings and MLS teams could probably get a good crowd for Boca Juniors, but it would be scarce if that when they would play someone like Deportivo Cuenca, or La Paz FC.

    Concacaf clubs have played in the Sudamericana.

    DC United have gone out three times in the first round, twice to Chivas and once to U Catolica

    Motagua of Honduras last year lost both games to Arsenal de Sarandi in the first round.

    Alajualense of Costa Rica went out something like 9-2 on aggregate to Colo Colo in the first round in 06.

    That brings me to my second point, there is a reason why Mexico tried to join CONMEBOL tournaments and that was obviously the level of play. And that is why their refusal to play Conmebol tournaments will be short lived. Both Conmebol and Femexfut depend on each other, one needs the money (it was reported in ESPN Latin America that the tv rights for Conmebol tournaments in the US and Mexico markets make up more than half of all the money from tv rights to Conmebol) and the other needs the competition.

    In case your interested here is an article on how important the market is in the US.

    Copa Libertadores went from 20 teams when the Mexican clubs joined to 38 clubs. Money makes the world go round and they'll figure out a deal before the Sudamericana starts

  • Comment number 38.


    I'm a Finn and an ex-UK resident currently living in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I fully agree with you in regards to the state championships (read your last blog on the topic too), as well as the importance of the opening round of a football season. However, it seems to me that the locals really value the state championships, too. Being a Sao Paulino, I certainly have heard a plenty from my Corinthiano colleagues at work. And I think it was Ronaldo who gave an interview on Brazilian TV after winning the Sao Paulo state championship and commented that there should be a longer break for the next game after the final "because winning the title means so much for him and his team mates". If I remember correctly, they won the title on a Sunday and had a game again on the following Wednesday! So Ronaldo, too, was calling for a bigger break, but at the same time he was giving credit to the value of the state championship.

    P.S. it was pretty funny to see the trophy catch fire as there were lots of paper in the air at the same time as there were fireworks... it was so obvious it was going to happen! I'm glad no-one got hurt though

  • Comment number 39.

    Hi Tim, last week I was watching that epic UEFA Cup SF btn Hamburg & Bremen, whereby there was lots of S. American talent on show (and African too!), with the likes of Diego, Alex Silva, Pizarro, Naldo etc. But I was heartbroken to see Alex Silva get his compatriot and national teammate Diego suspended for the final. I know you're representing your club, but I wasn't amused at all. Doncha think such incidents bring unrest in the Brasilian camp? And what do you think of Grafite at Wolfsburg? Why can't he get a call to the national squad?

  • Comment number 40.


    I've heard some good things about Leo (Leonardo Renan Simoes de Lacerda) from Gremio but I haven't seen him play, what can you tell me about him?


  • Comment number 41.

    i never followed ronaldo's career milan. it was hard because he played few games but i am under the understanding that it was terrible. how bad was it and did he manage to get any goals

  • Comment number 42.

    lol, Adriano and Ibrahimovic were the best strike partnership on Pro Evo! they were almost unstoppable!

  • Comment number 43.

    Tim, did you see Nilmars goal? great goal, past 5 players.

  • Comment number 44.

    31 - thanks for your point. Something to think about - I think i have used the his/her construction in the past but decided that it looked clumsy. What do other people think?

    38 - re the Sao Paulo state championship - I think it's the only one (of the 27) with any quality, with any strength in depth. This has its own negative consequences - come the end of the year the Sao Paulo clubs can sign players from all over the rest of the country, because they can offer them something relatively worthwhile to do between January and May. One of the results - teams from Sao Paulo have won the natioal championship in each of the last five years.

  • Comment number 45.

    @41 Obviously he was struck down with injury again and he spend most of his time there on the sidelines but he had a very impressive goal ratio from the games that he did play in.

    He scored a bullet against Inter but my highlight was a piledriver that he scored (again with his left foot) against Empoli.

  • Comment number 46.


    That's why you get paid to do a blog and I just comment! Of the state championships I only follow the Sao Paulo one (sounds like I'm not missing much!) and have no idea if the locals value the other state leagues. So fair reply to my comment at 38. Thanks.

    On 31 and his/her etc., I think dmonz2000 knew himself/herself that he/she was being pedantic. Indeed it would become clumsy, just look at the previous sentence. Unless there is a specific reason to emphasise that both men and women are to be considered, forget it. Or perhaps we should also specify which age group we are referring to? And race? And religion? Relax.

  • Comment number 47.

    46 - everyone likes winning titles, especially in Brazil. We had a full house last week in the Maracana for the Flamengo - Botafogo game that decided the Rio State championship(Flamengo won on peanlties after a 2-2 of unspeakable awfulness, by the way).

    But the players know. Flamengo keeper Bruno was the hero with the penalty saves - he's now won 3 state title in a row. Before this one kicked off, he let it slip that he'd prefer to win 'something important' this year.

    I first got put on to this back in January 96 - I rememeber interviewing Branco when he was about to join Middlesbrough, and he was telling me how desperate he was to escape from the state chmpionships.

  • Comment number 48.

    "The fan is desperate to get back inside the stadium and see his new-look team. There has been time for the opening game to be marketed properly, and by going to the early games the fan builds up an identification with the team that sustains him through the long months of the season."

    Well, brazilian championship is indeed very far from this. the fan is not desperate to see his new team, because it's probably worse than the last year's (which was probably worse than the year before and so on). Sometimes we are deluded to think this or that team will be great, only to learn that player x or y wasn't what we had expected him to be.
    And it's hard to build identification with players who consider your team only an opportunity to reach europe. for example,when thiago neves came back after his failed attempt in germany he declared his return to fluminense was a stepback in his career. Well, i'm not a fluminense fan, but wouldn't be identified with such a player. and the fact is: he only said what the others think but don't dare saying... they kiss the team's badge but everyone knows they are desperate to leave as soon as possible.

    #30: when afonso was called to play for Brazil, everybody here considered it a bad joke. Sadly, it has become really common to call some players (terrible ones) only to have their value increased so they are sold with bigger profits...

  • Comment number 49.

    On Brazilian players coming back to play in Brazil: I recently saw TV footage of Ronaldo at the Corinthians' "training facility", and it was a sad, sad sight. I mean, my 5-a-side team in Nottingham used to play at a better quality place. A three time FIFA Player of the Year training at such poor surroundings shocked me. I know that Sao Paulo FC has good quality facilities, but they seem to be an exception. Or perhaps it's the Corinthians that is the exception? Given that the Corinthians don't even have a stadium of their own, which is like Liverpool and ManU not having one... it puzzles me.

  • Comment number 50.

    48 made a very good point about the problems of trying to identify with clubs when the players are always chopping and changing Botafogo, for example, offloaded just about all their first team squad at the end of last year. but even a team such as Palmeiras - that has a bit more financial stability - brought in ten new faces at the start of this season.
    Im pretty sure that both Fred and Adriano are back in Brazil because they think it will be an easy ride. Adriano has signed up at Fla but hasnt even bothered getting round to training yet he may only start next week.
    As for Fred, I was quite shocked to see him dive so much in Sundays Fluminense vs São Paulo match I dont remember him being like that when he was at Cruzeiro a few years back.
    I felt sorry for the 14,000 or so that turned up at the Maracanã as the game was appalling (but what else could one have expected from a contest between Carlos Alberto Parreira and Muricy Ramalho!)

  • Comment number 51.

    Great blog as always, Tim, I can honestly say that you have the best footballing blog on the whole of the BBC (although Lee Dixon sometimes provides us with genuine jewels).

    Anyway, I agree wholeheartedly with you, the state championships have to go. They serve little-to-no-purpose, even in Sao Paulo case. At best, if people wanted to save these competitions somehow, reduced championships, via a format change to a cup elimination system, might be the only thing worthwhile doing, really.

    But one tiny correction regarding today's article: Corinthians' starting line-up had only two first team players, they didn't just leave out "some" other first team players. Nit-picking, I know, but an important one, as it helps explain why they lost against Inter.


  • Comment number 52.

    With all the young talents that are springing up across south America, one thing remains clear. There has been no one anywhere near to Ronaldo as he was at a young age. Testimony to how good he is the fact that Brazilian media are already calling for his National team return. I hope Dunga wakes up soon to the fact that amazing as it is, Ronaldo is STILL Brazils best finisher and is worth a risk.

  • Comment number 53.


    personally I don't think it matters too much if you use he/his/him and don't use she/hers/her - but obviously if it is an issue, you could always use they/them/their/theirs.

    Also, I remember watching Parma in the early 2000's when Adriano was partnered by Adrian Mutu - the two of them looked amazing at the time.

  • Comment number 54.

    Nice insights Tim. You have been providing us refreshing stuff on what is going on in the football arenas out there. Reports make positive mention of Ronaldo's come back attempts. He is scoring goals and making steady progress. Selecção boss Senhor Dunga says the door is open for Ronaldo. The football fields in South Africa would be nice platforms for the all time great scorer to give a final display of his awesome scoring abilities. Ronaldo is a guy who can make a difference.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 55.

    Do you really believe that the extinction of the State Championships in Brazil is the best way to further develop the sport administration? As you said yourself, the match between Fluminense and the 3-time champs São Paulo drew only 14,000 to Maracanã. On the other hand, the final between Flamengo and Botafogo gathered 63,000 one week before.
    Your arguments are excellent its pretty clear that for each game like this there are a dozen of nearly empty matches between small clubs but Im still not sure that the Brazilian audience would be comfortable of giving up the local rivalries, dating back to the 1800s most of them.
    The well established Euro-format of a national Championship and a Cup is already in place with the Brazilian Championship and the Brazil Cup, but it seems that the States are a true old habit.
    Congrats on your post.

  • Comment number 56.

    Just read that the weekends average gate of 13,954 was the best for an opening round of the Brasileiro since the league shifted to points only in 2003 its an embarrassingly low number but at least its moving in the right direction

  • Comment number 57.

    Tim, I find it funny to read so many complaints about players like Lucas Leiva and Gilberto Silva. Brazilian defending mid-fielders are not supposed to be good. They are picked exactly because they are bad and wont dare to go past the half way line. Ever since the disasters of 1978 and 1982 all national team coaches have picked 2 or even 3 mediocrities as holding midfielders. Tele Santana himself started this with Alemao and Elzo in 86, then came Dunga and Alemao in 90, Dunga, Mauro Silva and Mazinho in 94, Dunga and Cesar Sampaio in 98, Gilberto Silva and the unbelievable Kleberson in 2002 and Emerson and Gilberto Silva in 2006. Of these only Dunga was a good player. Now as a coach he has continued the trend selecting truly awful players like Josue, Mineiro who are immediately picked up by European clubs. Just a reminder: we didnt lose in 1982 because the great Cerezo and Falcao couldnt defend. On the contrary, they did it brilliantly. Ask Maradona. The truth is the only time the great Argentinian had any success against Brazil was when he played the worst team we ever sent to a World Cup in 1990 with 5 defenders , 3 defensive midfielders and only 2 forwards. By the way Tim, ask Branco what the highlight of his club career was and I'm sure he'll tell it was winning the Rio state Championship 3 times in a row with Fluminense in the 80's. Until some 20 years ago when all Brazilian players played in Brazil( more than 1000 now play overseas) the smaller teams in Rio and Sao Paulo were not that bad , and they were constantly producing youngsters for the major clubs. It will be a while before brazilians get over their love for the local tournament. Even though, I sadly agree, they've become almost meaningless.

  • Comment number 58.

    Great blog Tim.

    I must admit you touched on something I was thinking after the Corinthians v Inter game on Sunday. It was bitterly disappointing, and more than that Ronaldo wasn't playing. I was gutted. I'll try to get a glimpse Wednesday though.

  • Comment number 59.

    Great blog! I do think, however, that you have missed one player from your list of potential superstars - Nicolas Millan at Chile's Colo Colo. He looks to be the next Ronaldo, Messi if you prefer him. I'd definetely give him a lookover.

  • Comment number 60.

    I debated with locals here in Rio on this very subject of why they celebrated so much on winning the local (diddy) cup last week and yet they didn't seem interested in the start of the league yesterday, I couldn't understand it.

    TV definitely didn't push the start of the league, is this because of advertising or other I don't know? But I can see they are actively pushing for the national cup games this midweek. I think these games will be excellent.

    On the quality side I just wish they would get the pitches in better condition, as the players have pace and abundant skill but the pitches are dire, including the Maracana, some of it is more of a likeness to out of bounds on the golf course, but it really says something to me about these guys' fitness to play in the heat and on these pitches, the players are unbelievably fit.

    If they can sort out the fixture list to be more organised like Europe I think they have a vastly improving product here. I think this season with the arrival Ronaldo and Adraino is going to make it even better, I think this league campaign will be a cracker.

  • Comment number 61.


    What is your view on the issues with Mexico withdrawing from the Libertadores and all future South American competition for the time being?

    I see the other countries' point of not wanting an infection risk, and I think Mexico have acted a little childishly to pull out of all competitions until an agreement is reached, but it all seems to have become a little political to me.

    Surely they could have worked something out with a bit of common sense (such as insisting the teams took private flights) to retain the integrity of the competition once it became clear that swine flu wasn't going to be the global killer people first thought?

    The situation now has helped no-one, and I think the Mexican federation were very silly to "pick up their ball and go home".

  • Comment number 62.

    To post 49
    You don't need to feel sorry for Ronaldo for playing in such poor surroundings. He was born poor and played all his childhood in worse places. Plus, he chose to play for Corinthians when he could have easily stayed anywhere he wanted in Europe, even injured. He is filthy rich. He is looking for happiness and he realised that money doesn't buy that, same as what Adriano might be thinking now that he's back to Brazil.
    You are right, Sao Paulo FC and Palmeiras have the best training ground and structure in the country. But don't go see it or you will be disappointed comparing to whatever team you support structure.
    It's quite ridiculous to me to hear players here complaining about the state of the grass in Wembley or Southend, it's unbelievable.


    As a female, it doesn't bother me one bit to hear his/him in your posts.

    As for the state championship, as meaningless as it is, I'm sorry to say you are fighting a losing battle here. It means one more silverware for each state, young talents coming forward and a gap of the year filled with some revenue whilst Europe can afford to go on a two/three months holiday. Brazil you know is huge and people love football, they want it all year round. Isn't it boring when the season ends in May over here? Of course people then can't wait for the start of the season, being fed up with watching cricket, but over there it just means switching from state to national championship. I admire your goodwill though, God bless you Tim.

  • Comment number 63.


    Who is corinthians playing on wednesday night and what time is it in the Uk please?

  • Comment number 64.

    Tim - i am sure you will either be laughing or crying seeing as a fantastic blog about south american football has been turned (by some) as a discussion about copmuter games...

    I can't comment on PES6 or FIFA05 or whatever as fortunately i am not a complete pleb...

    However - it is great for the fans in Brazil to have 2 of the best strikers in the world (still) back in the country - its just a shame as you mentioned that they aren't being fully used.... but maybe long term it will be viewed as a good decision if Ronaldo in particular can be kept fit.

    I always promote the quality of Ronaldo and have said many times that if he didn't suffer SO MANY HORRIFIC injuries then he could have potentially been spoken about as the greatest player of all time...

    I love the story about Raul having a go at him for being fat and lazy in training and him apparantly just saying something like "you are in the team to run i am in the team to score goals".. he then went out and bagged 2 the next game and alledgedly reminded Raul of the discussion... i love that sort of stuff!!

    Adriano was/is a proper player when he is in the right mood - completely unplayable at times and the sort of player that could/ maybe still can, like Ronaldo, out muscle, out pace, out skill, out think, just all round out play opposition defences... shame his time at the absolute top of his game was so short - due to whatever reason... but in fairness so many other players deemed to be, the ever-so-overused "worldclass", would take being as good as Adriano is now

  • Comment number 65.

    31. are you a he/she?

  • Comment number 66.

    I for one still do think that Ronaldo is possibly the best player ever. The game the way it is today is fitter, faster and to achieve what he achieved is incredible.

    To my mind he has scored most of the best goals, and certainly many of my favourites.

    As a United supporter, i've always hoped that we'd eventually sign him, and I still do. I'd not care if he only played a games every now and then like Giggs, because his quality is remarkable. His finishing, poise, and calmness in front of goal would be a great addition and give that cutting edge that I always feel we still sometimes lack. He's always been the kind of player that you need to pass the ball in front of rather than to, to tease him into action. Once he's moving, he's unplayable and always dangerous, can beat any player and keeper.

    Either way, it makes me very happy that he's back playing, fit and scoring again. I hope it lasts because he's brought a lot to the game and deserves to enjoy it.

    (Please sign him, Sir Alex!)

  • Comment number 67.

    Surely a European team signing Ronaldo would be like another Premiership team singing Joey Barton?

    That is in no way a comparrison of quality (obviously) but marketing potential aside you just know that if Ronaldo came to play in England the physicality of the game would cripple him (figuratively speaking) in no time just as one suspects (I think BBC & libel rules forbid me from saying he would) Joey Barton would not last long at a new club before immersing himself in another controversy.

    I've had the pleasure of seeing Ronaldo play in the flesh back in his Inter days and he was bordering on perfection for a striker, but we've gone on about how much we all rate him on these pages countless times before and so I'll not go on about his quality here. All I will say though is whether or not you're lucky enough to have seen him play at his peak I can't imagine anything more demoralising than watching a player who used to be outstanding turn out once in a while when his leg works to score the odd goal.

    Ronaldo has been lucky enough to been a complete success story. He may be missing a few titles that others have won but he has played at the highest level all over Europe for three of the World's great sides, he has won the World Cup and his skill is universally aknowledged. Hopefully he can now play out his days enjoying playing football for the sake of the game now the collossal pay cheques and World spotlight are off him. I think Ronaldo returning to Europe would be one sequal too far and those who like cinema know that one dodgy sequel can tarnish an entire franchise.

    P.S #64 I don't think the computer game comments are to be taken entirely seriously, but whilst I gave up my Football Manager addiction a few years back I would say that games like it instill one positive legacy in it's fans. A desire to learn about players and teams from outside the big three leagues, and I think to some extent that's a prevailing theme on this blog. So it's not surprising that many football computer game fans enjoy this blog so much. (The primary reason is the author though who continues to write a cracking weekly piece.)

  • Comment number 68.


    Have I got this wrong, but didn't Adriano say he was going to take a break from football, in which Inter Milan had no choice but to terminate his contract?

    Did Milan have to pay Adriano compensation? & are Milan going to take any action against Adriano for lying to them?
    Potentially it could be the same as C.Ronaldo saying he wants to take a break, ends his contract, then moves to Madrid as a result?

    Or haven't Milan reacted at all? or knew the circumstances?

  • Comment number 69.

    17. Absolutely spot on. I'd add YouTube to that too. A couple of YouTube videos of an 18-year-old Brazilian doing a couple of stepovers and suddenly he's "awesome" or "the next [whoever]".

    I would imagine Tim gets as annoyed as you suggest he might, but maybe doesn't want to create enemies from a relatively small interest base? Compared with someone analysing the Premiership (chance would be a fine thing) in the UK who can cause controversy because they can afford to alienate a small percentage of followers.

  • Comment number 70.

    According to the website, Brazil's biggest newspaper's sports section, Ronaldo did not participate in the opening because he had a flu. He needed medical attention at his house. Other Corinthians players also had a flu - Fabinho and Morais, who didn't play against Internacional either.

    Ronaldo is almost at his peak, physically speaking. However, Corinthians' manager Mano Menezes said, in the TV program "Bem Amigos" of SporTV, that now is not the time for Ronaldo to be called in for the "Seleção" to play. Despite the fact that Dunga (Brazil manager) and Ricardo Teixeira (president of the CBF) want to call him to play Brazil's next 2 World Cup qualifier matches and the Confederations Cup this summer in South Africa. Mano Menezes said that calling Ronaldo for national selection now would get in the way of Ronaldo achieving his top level in the game. Nevertheless, the truth isn't known: Ronaldo has scored 10 goals in 13 matches so far and continues to impress not only the Brazilian fans, but his supporters outside Brazil.

    But why Corinthians? Originally his plan was to play for Flamengo, for which he has declared his love several times. Whilst recovering by doing physical training and physiotherapy in the Flamengo gym, Flamengo failed to offer him a contract. Corinthians got there first, and good for them. Obviously European teams were reluctant to sign him, the majority of Europeans says he is a "has been", that's why he's ended up playing for a Brazilian team, of "inferior status" to European leagues (I'll argue this some other day...), but before the 2002 World Cup he was recovering in Brazil too, and he was by far the best player in the competition. Maybe he'll be the best player next year as well (I hope!).

    Still, I do see Ronaldo coming back to Europe to play for a top team again. He signed a one year contract with Corinthians, and I'm perfectly sure that he will not stop until he plays the next World Cup. I believe he will actually play in the Premiership, because that is the only major European league he hasn't played for.

    But enough with predictions. What is true is that Ronaldo is back. He's proven that by running at 10 m/s when he scored the goal against São Paulo, by scoring two beautiful goals against Santos in the first game of the finals. We'll see now if he can keep it up for the rest of the season and achieve his aim of scoring 30 goals this season. He only has two thirds to go.

  • Comment number 71.

    65. I'm a male, didn't realise it would escalate and cause so much controversy. Been pedantic is not my scene!

    By the way, doesn't Adriano's goals per game, in one of the most defensive leagues in the world really provide factual evidence that he has been at the top of his game for a good few years?

    aps gls

    20002001 - Flamengo 019 0(7)
    20012009 - Internazionale 123 (48)
    2002 - Fiorentina (loan) 015 0(6)
    20022004 - Parma (co-ownership 044 (26)
    2009 - Flamengo (loan)

  • Comment number 72.

    # 29 Colorado_Matt - Hi Colorado! Well done for supporting the best team in the South!
    Problem with Bolanos @ Santos was basically to adapt to the club, surroundings and the team.
    Bolanos was brought to Santos by their Sports partner Sonda without too much input from Vagner Mancini (or Leao... I do not remember).
    He never made effort to learn the language and had problems to adapt to the leaving style in Santos.
    By my own experience, given I am also gaucho like you (you may agree...) the proximity to otehr spanish speaking countries may help him a lot in launguage and also to the surroundings albeit the cold weather in the winter.
    I also feel that he will have learnt lessons in Santos that he will use towards improving in Internacional (just like Tevez and Mascherano when they left Corinthians to West Ham).
    The only concern that I have is seeing he speaking to Lancenet about the difficulties in aiming for a first team place. He shold be more secure of himself on this area and really work for this since I do not believe that Internacional paid all this money for someone to be sitting on the bench.
    But I thin k hewill be a good addition since he was doing reasonably well for Santos while inside the pitch.
    Good luck!!

  • Comment number 73.

    "I can't comment on PES6 or FIFA05 or whatever as fortunately i am not a complete pleb..."

    Unfortunately that comment suggests otherwise!

    Is the posting of videos of footballers on Youtube as proof of their greatness any different to forming an opinion off the statistics from FM or Pro Evo? After all, the videos are just highlight compilations.

    Martin Allen signed 13 players for Leicester last season off the back of videos, and look where that got us. Even i could post a video on Youtube that makes Ade Akiniyi look like a clinical finisher.

  • Comment number 74.

    I agree with your reasoning regarding the State Championships. It makes sense for the big clubs to play each other more often rather than wasting their time gobbling up plankton from the lower leagues. There is a certain kitsch value to watching Chelsea, for example, travel to Kidderminster for a cup tie, but to arrange a footballing season, every football season, around this and similar fixtures would simply be absurd.

    My only concern is that the taking of this rationale to its extreme has produced the Cahmpions League behemoth. The teams who regularly compete in this tournament have created a self-perpetuating virtuous circle. The group stage format provides precisely the remedy you speak of Tim, it allows big teams to play each other more reguarly, to the extent that it is meaningful for Manchester United, for example, to assume they will have 6, 8, 10, 12 or 13 games against a reducible number of big clubs. This means more exposure, more money, better players, more qualifications for the Champions League and so it starts again.

    Hopefully Brazillian football can avoid this pitfall, releasing its clubs from the State Championships while retaining the residual unpredictability that is part of its appeal.

  • Comment number 75.

    Tim you wrote a similar column a year ago or so I think - and your state championships piece a couple of weeks ago was a repeat too, if I´m not mistaken. I´m not going to go over what I´ve already said about the state championships, except that they are a huge part of Brazilian football and culture and whilst reorganisation is vital talk of getting rid of them is wide of the mark. Even referring to the local championships as if they were a single entity is wrong - there are 27 states in Brazil, and the relevance and popularity of the state contests varies greatly, as does their structure - maybe it´s time to look beyond Sao Paulo and Rio a little (I´m thinking of christening you the Peter Kenyon of Baixada Fluminense).

    That said I´d like a bigger break between the SCs and the Brasileirao, to create more interest. And I hate the RJ/MG/RS structure of two big teams (four in the case of RJ) wasting months playing against smaller teams to get to an inevitable final. Why not have an interior round robin to begin with, with the top four or so teams then jumping in to a shorter competition against the big boys? The Paulistao is too big and long, but manages to sustain interest because there are enough quality teams to give the big four a decent game (or at least make them sweat before they make the semis).

    The real demon is the Brazilian Cup - why oh why is it played so early? Every year the winner gets crowned in June or July and then puts their feet up for the rest of the year having already qualified for the Libertadores. And the rest of the teams are denied an interest sustaining lifeline for the second half of the year. Ludicrous.

    A few cultural points I´d like to pick up on. Why do Brazilian coaches insist on playing entire (or almost entire) reserve teams in the league when there are big cup games coming up? It almost killed Fluminense last year, and the big teams in Europe don´t do it, resting a few key players only. I appreciate the journeys are greater in South America, and the teams don´t have the same strength in depth, but it seems to me a very misguided approach, playing havoc with team continuity as well as the obvious loss of points. How tired can professional athletes really get three months into the season?

    You didn´t mention the psyche of the average Brazilian football fan in all of this, which to me is a huge factor. In my experience Brazilians like to go to games when there´s a strong chance of winning or when there´s a silver pot or two on the horizon. If not then it´s very much a case of well I´ll skip it today and go next week for the big game. Financial reality obviously plays a part in this but not for the upper middle and upper social classes - who have money to burn. Brazilian football fans appear to have no qualms whatsoever about abandoning their team when the chips are down - Santa Cruz and America (RN) are two recent victims of playing in front of empty stadiums towards the end of the season when already doomed to relegation. Couple all this with the pay per view TV deal which gives any bar or restaurant (or private home) access to any game they want whenever they want - and its obvious what the result will be.

    Oh, and it was Mother´s Day on Sunday. Hilarious I know, but a factor nonetheless....Gremio got 45,00 by letting Mum in for free....

    All the best

  • Comment number 76.

    some excelent points in a good debate - acutually I don't think I'm fighting a losing battle on the state championships - i think the tide is starting to turn, but it's going to need courage from the big clubs to confront the power structure - which, because of the 2014 World Cup is unlikely to happen for a while.

    Some good points in the previous post about the pot-hunting mentality of the Brazilian supporter - it's up to the clubs, administrators and media to try and change this.

    Mother's day is also a factor - it's huge over here - a British audience can have little idea of how seriously this is treated. So again, 0 points for organisational ability - why on earth stage the big kick off on a weekend that co-incideds with Mother's day?

    Ronaldo has pucked up flu - but that's not the reason he was left out of Sunday's game - I think this was a problem Monday morning, and the club had made it clear several days before Sunday's game that neither he nor the majority of the first team would be taking part.

    I've got a piece on him which should be up later today on the website of Sports Illustrated - and follow the link to soccer.

  • Comment number 77.

    1ronjaw...I don´t think anyone needs fear for the future of Brazilian football. They continue to dazzle the world and win tournaments that England struggle to get to...

    mind you I think Spain are going to take some beating next year..

  • Comment number 78.

    Tim you wrote a wonderful letter on the wall of World Soccer Daily about comments made about Hillsborough.

    Yesterday was 24th anniversary of Bradford Fire when 56 people died,2 weeks ago on World Football Phone in Ian read out his moving tribute still see it on youtube sorry no good at posting links.

    After you said fans safety was the most important thing,first Bradford later on that month was Heysel. Four years later Hillsborough and the 96 who died, Ibrox 1971 and Burnden Park 1946 lost in time but not our memories.

    S.America and Africa have seen stadium disasters one only last month in the Ivory Coast during a World Cup qualifier.Myself Michael Platt and other facebook friends of World Football Phone In would like to say thank you and much respect.

    Cleo'the book'

  • Comment number 79.

    During the first half of the 04/05 season, Adriano was as good a striker as you'll ever see. Coming off the back of an excellent Copa America in which he scored 7 goals, he was in red hot form for club. His goalscoring form was unbelievable, both domestically and in the Champions League, and you have to see video footage of his goals that season to see what a devastating player he was. Strength, dribbling, heading, touch, pace and of course a hammer of a left foot - he was pretty much unplayable.

    The goals dried up after the winter break but in the Champions League he continued to score freely. I firmly believe that Inter would have won the competition had Adriano not been injured in April (when they lost to Milan in the quarters).

    Funnily enough his best goalscoring form (in the first half of the season, when he was averaging more than 1 goal a game) coincided with a run of draws which saw Inter drop out of the title race early on. Inter did better while he was having his goal drought!

  • Comment number 80.

    Just read your article in Sports Illustrated, about Ronaldo.You probably will not remember but December 2007 I asked you if Ronaldo was going home to play at Flamengo.

    This was about 7 weeks before Ronaldo's horrendous knee injury at AC Milan.I asked you about his fitness levels back in December 2007.You said Brazil could be cruel to its idols who went abroad and cited Carmen Miranda as an example.

    Before 2002 WC Ronaldo was dismissed as being overweight and passed his best,but went on to be top World Cup scorer.

    Confederation Cup is less than 5 weeks away not so competitive,but in the middle of Brasil Cup and after the WCQ. I say to Mr Dunga give Ronaldo a chance in the squad for the Confederation Cup.

  • Comment number 81.

    Tim, how come you didn't give Nilmar's goal a mention in the blog? It'll be a long time before a better goal is scored anywhere in the world

  • Comment number 82.

    Great article here and on Si-cnn as well Tim...

    Im not sure whether my question should be posted here or to your mail bag however i would love to hear your, and other, views on the difference between European penalties and South American...I have always been led to belive that stopping, or checking a run up to take a penalty is against the rules and therefore unfair....however whilst watching more and more south american football i have seen some ridiculous penalties that in my mind are completely sure this does happen in Europe too and maybe i have just seen less...however...and i sight Ronaldos penalty in the recent Paulistão as my evidence..i have seen a player completely stop, wait for the Goal keeper to dive then slot his spot kick into the opposit corner....i find it hard to accept but yet there seems to be little reaction and referee i behind the times on footballing law or are these players making it up as they go along....

  • Comment number 83.

    Hi Tim, interesting & wellinformed blog as usual, would like to agree with 81 renoog) Nilmar's goal for Inter was fantastic, up there with Maradona etc., world class !!! for our UK readers thats Inter of Porto Alegre, rivals of Gremio (I'm a Gremio fan here in Brasil, they had a fantastic
    team when Scolari was the coach), but to get back to the main subject of yr blog, the state championships are as other bloggers remarked, high on the average Brasilian Fans priorities, my 17 yr old son is a fanatic Flamengo supporter,( as are many Brasilians all over this huge country), even though myself & family live in Macae & Macae were competing in the play offs he & his friends all support one of the big 4 from Rio, but the local team has no chance together with about 8 others, to compete, but are included just to make up the numbers.
    The national championship is another kettle of fish, as you remarked
    very badly organised & conceived, typical Brasilian govt. company philosofy inspired, although it's supposed to be an independent body, it seems to be Ricardo Teixeira's mandate for life, if you don't know who he is or the CBF do a google on them, if you think UEFA or FIFA is run by politics, they're a bunch of amateurs when compared with Brasilian sports governing bodies. Agreed Tim ? as you say Mothers Day in Brasil is
    sacred !, not many people worry much about football last Sunday not even
    the most fanatical supporters, so I personally think this to be one of the main reasons, also nobody has any cash left over, it's all spent on flowers & presents for MUM, nobody's gives a hoot about football, on thinking about it, I can't think of a comparable Sunday comemmeration in
    UK, that comes close in emotional importance, perfect day to kick off the National championship, but it hots up later in the season, Ronaldo !
    What a fanastic player he is, and always has been, he's playing as good as ever, 9 goals in 10 matches for Corinthians, he's fast, intelligent,
    inspiring and the fans love it, he's also not shy of replying to critics
    when Sao Paolo's vice pres. remarked on his weight problems, he scored 2 goals & told tv interviewers after the match that the guy should only open his mouth when he had something worth listening to as he didn't know the first thing about football, but he really has made a fantastic
    comeback, I see on the news that he has just bought a luxury penthouse in a top flight suburb of Sao Paolo, is happy with his wife & baby & family, so has sorted out his family relationship & the fans love him, so I would put my money on that he won't be attracted by any European club, I would like to see him paired up with Carlitos at Corinthians, they would make a fantastic attack, but that would be shooting myself in the foot, as I want Carlitos to stay at MU, my club, the other Ronaldo
    (cry baby)will probably be leaving anyway, so sell him to RM buy Carlitos & have change left over, thats what I hope Fergies plans are, who knows ?
    Talking about Corinthians I saw on the local news tonight that the Bras.
    under 17 squad beat their biggest rivals the Argies in a penalty shootout for the world sub 17 championship, and that a young 16 yr old by the name of Dodo has been snapped up by MU, so lets hope he turns out
    as talented as Anderson and the ex Fluminense twins. Do you do any scouting down here Tim ? I'm just Joking OK !
    But the national championship should be interesting this year with the return of Adriano to Flamengo & Fred to Fluminense, lets hope more quality players return to Brasil, Adriano was reported to have said that he is more happy in the slums where he was brought up, in company with
    his boyhood friends & family, than living in luxury in Milan which shows that it's not all about money for some guys, but don't be fooled he won't be living in any slum, probably in a Penthouse in Barra de Tijuca in a luxury Condiminium in front of the beach (thats like living in Chelsea or Mayfair whatever), he'll just be visiting the slums.
    Personally I am a MU supporter but I would't like to live there, I hate rain, no offense to mancurians !!, I am a lancashire lad myself, born in Blackburn, lived in Chorley & Bolton with my Mum during the war yrs, my Dad was in the RAF, moved to Blackpool in 47, and had the privelige of watching every other saturday, at Bloomfield Rd one of the alltime football greats Sir Stan, but as they say thats another story so I won't bore you guys as we're talking about S A football , so good Morning to you Tim and all bloggers here & think positive on the 27th, it's going to be great Match. Cheers from Derek in Macae !

  • Comment number 84.

    Hello Tim,

    Great article. Man United are being linked with Brazilian teenager Dodo of Corinthians. Can you tell me n\anything bout him as I have never had him mentioned before?. Can he adapt to English football? Has he got the skill and strength to succeed at Man Utd?.


  • Comment number 85.


  • Comment number 86.

    Post 82, I don't know what the exact ruling is but I was always under the impression that you could slow down during your runup as long as you didn't come to a complete stop. Ronaldo's penalty was probably illegal then. His namesake Cristiano manages to avoid falling foul of the rules because he slows down midway through the runup and takes a step forward before kicking the ball (as opposed to stopping just before kicking the ball in the case of Ronaldo)

  • Comment number 87.

    Some info for 84,85, (I could give you a link for more info but its in portuguese so will translate for you) his name is DODÔ, 17 yrs old so cannot play for MU until he is 18,so can play in july when the european market opens, he was a member of the sub 17 squad that just beat
    argentina, was born in Campinas SP interior, was discovered by Cruzeiro (of Minas Gerais)in a soccer school in his home town,as he wanted to stay close to his family chose to sign with Corinthians in 2007, he is a left winger & MU payed 6 mil quid for him, so he must have talent, how good he actually is, I can"t inform you, Maybe Tim can ? He's already in Manchester training for 2 wks, & will be doing this routine on a 3 monthly basis, meanwhile he will return to Corinthians to train & play with the juniors, hope that helped, a great game to watch tonight is Corinthians (Ronaldo) V Fluminense (Fred) it will be on local tv & Internet for the quarter finals of Copa do Brasil 21:50 local time.
    Many thanks to 28 that utube clip is hilarious, the guy playing the piano
    is Lula (brasilian president) wish I had the savvy & software to be able
    to manipulate clips like that, Cheers to all / Derek B / Macae Brasil

  • Comment number 88.

    Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Boca Juniors (Argentina) are the biggest clubs of the South America and two of the biggest clubs of the world. You can compare them only with Real Madrid, Milan, Manchester United, Liverpool and Barcelona.

    The biggest clubs of each country (taking into account recent inquiries that gave points to the clubs according to five principal factors for call the greatness of a club: titles, financial receipts, inheritance, infrastructure and fan base in his country (without counting the 'sympathizers' around the world)):

    England: 1 - Manchester United and Liverpool , 2 - Arsenal and 3 - Chelsea.

    Italy: 1 - Milan, 2 - Juventus and 3 - Internazionale.

    Spain: 1 - Real Madrid, 2 - Barcelona and 3 - Atletico.

    Brazil: 1 - Sao Paulo, 2 - Flamengo and 3 - Corinthians.

    Argentina: 1 - Boca Juniors, 2 - River Plate and 3 - Independiente.

    Uruguay: 1 - Penarol, 2 - Nacional and 3 - Defensor.

    France: 1 - Olympique, 2 - Lyon and 3 - PSG.

    Portugal: 1 - Porto, 2 - Benfica and 3 - Sporting.

    Netherlands: 1 - Ajax, 2 - Feyenoord and 3 - PSV.

    Germany: 1 - Bayern, 2 - Borussia and 3 - Hamburgo.

    Mexico: 1 - America, 2 - Chivas Guadalajara and 3 - Cruz Azul.

    Chile: 1 - Colo-Colo, 2 - Universidad Chile and 3 - Universidad Catolica.

    World: 1 - Real Madrid, 2 - Milan, 3 - Sao Paulo, 4 - Boca Juniors, 5 - Liverpool and Manchester United, 7 - Barcelona, 8 - Juventus, 9 - Bayern and 10 - Internazionale.

    Alex Schneider

  • Comment number 89.

    Want to catch a live Copa Liberatores game.Defensor of Uruguay vs Boca, looking forward to seeing ,a fit Riquelme.

    Setanta 2 11.25 pm tonight the game was postponed as the Estadio Centenario Stadium double booked. Not as Tim said on World Football Phone in to Oasis in concert scouting for Man City haha.

  • Comment number 90.

    88 - I'd say Benfica is a bigger club than Porto and Lyon a bigger than Olympique. But besides it it's very spot on. Also Boca Juniors being bigger than Sao Paulo in South America, though I'd say it's a very small gap.

  • Comment number 91.

    An entertaining Copa Liberatores match in Uruguay,Boca took the lead on 2 mins a Palermo volley from a corner kick. The rest of the half dominated by Defensor Boca not having barely a shot on goal.Push forward paid off just before half time,Defensor scored the equalizer,

    Half time entertainment was Boca fans throwing plastic chairs at Defensor fans.

    Boca domianted second half Palacio scored after 10 mins of second half,but Defensor came back in the game and Sivo headed home equalizer.

    No Riquelme second leg next week should win it.

  • Comment number 92.

    Arsenal are giving a trial to a young Argentinian U17 Emilano Martinez,have asked Tim about him.There are two young Argentinan goalkeepers Getafe's Oscar Ustari and AZlkmaar's Sergio Romero whose team have won Dutch Championships.

    Produce good forwards and midfielders.seem to have no outstanding goalie,why is this?


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