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The call of Ronaldinho

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Tim Vickery | 09:09 UK time, Monday, 8 August 2011

The semi-serious Confederations Cup aside, friendlies are all Brazil have at senior level between now and the World Cup they host in three year's time.

This is a legitimate cause for concern. Part of the story of South Africa 2010 is how well the South American qualifiers had prepared the continent's teams - all five put up a respectable showing, with Paraguay reaching the quarter finals for the first time and Uruguay, who had qualified in fifth place, reaching the semis. And one of the lessons of the recently concluded Copa America is that the next set of South American qualifiers are likely to be even more competitive.

Another lesson from the Copa is, in the current circumstances, even more unfortunate for Brazil. Because the 2011 Copa America showed that friendlies can be very unreliable witnesses.

This was most clearly seen with Argentina, whose attempt to imitate Barcelona appeared viable in warm up matches, only to be be revealed as unworkable when the real stuff started. They and their new coach Alejandro Sabella have a marathon series of qualifiers in which to whip a new team into shape. Brazil, as we have seen, only have friendlies.

At least they do have them against high prestige opponents. One of the advantages of being Brazil is that it is relatively easy to find quality sparring partners. So this Wednesday the post-Copa America phase of their World Cup build up gets underway with a trip to Stuttgart to face Germany.

The disappointing performances last month in Argentina - Brazil managed one win in four games - has cranked the pressure up a notch or two on coach Mano Menezes and his squad.

Menezes has broadly kept faith with the group he took to Argentina. Jonas of Valencia is recalled to provide the option of the extra support striker. In defence Menezes has rectified a mistake he made in the Copa - Vasco da Gama's imperious young centre back Dede should have gone to Argentina. He now comes in at the expense of Benfica's Luisao.

Midfield has seen most changes. Elano has been dropped, and Liverpool's Lucas Leiva, now the holding midfielder, is suspended after picking up a red card in the Copa quarter final. New options include Ralf of Corinthians, the dynamic Fernandinho of Shakhtar Donetsk and Bayern Munich's Luiz Gustavo, a player little known to the Brazilian public.
There is also a recall for Bayer Leverkeusen attacking midfielder Renato Augusto, at the expense of the bafflingly discarded Jadson.

Probably the best football Brazil played in the Copa came in the first half of their group game against Paraguay. Jadson, a surprise selection, looked nervy, but in flashes combined well with playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso - one such exchange led to Jadson firing in the only goal of the first half.

On a yellow card and not far away from a red, Jadson was removed at the interval. Strangely, he did not appear again - the largely ineffective Robinho was recalled - and he has now been axed from the squad. Perhaps he was not sitting up straight during the national anthem!

A creative partner for Ganso seems like a good idea because the Santos youngster showed clearly in the Copa that he is not yet ready to carry the team on his shoulders. The languid left footer has the talent to play the killer pass, but gave the ball away time and time again because he has yet to understand the moment to try it.

Hyped to the hills by the local press, the danger now is of an anti-Ganso backlash setting in. If so, it will be a case of a player paying the price for being declared a reality when he is still nothing more than a promise.

The Brazilian media were so keen to love him because it had been so long since the country had produced a player of his type. And because there seemed to be no other option for the number ten shirt. But a new one has emerged - or rather, an old one has re-emerged.

Ronaldinho has been in fine form for Flamengo. Photo: Getty

Top scorer in the current Brazilian championship is twice former FIFA World Player of the Year, Ronaldinho. After sleepwalking his way through the last five years, the ex-Barcelona great has woken up. His coach at Flamengo Vanderlei Luxemburgo may have performed a masterstroke in mid-June, when he substituted Ronaldinho with two minutes remaining in a match purely so the player could be booed by his own fans. It was cruel medicine, but maybe a dose of public humiliation was what was needed.

Since then it has been a different story. True, Ronaldinho is not the player he once was. That burning acceleration has gone. But Luxemburgo has taken this into consideration and moved him higher up the field, closer to the opposing goal, where with a mixture of cunning and talent Ronaldinho has been scoring and setting up chances for others.
On Saturday he made space beautifully in the last minute against Coritiba and curled in a precise cross which led to the only goal of the game, taking Flamengo to the top of the table - and Flamengo's millions of fans constitute a powerful lobby in favour of a player seeking a Brazil recall.

Of course there are serious doubts as to whether the 31 year old Ronaldinho can still tip the balance at international level - and still more serious ones about his ability to do so in a World Cup which is still three years away. But if he keeps up his club form then it will be hard to ignore his claims. Mano Menezes, though, is unable to test him in a competitive environment - friendlies, those unreliable witnesses, are all that is available.

Comments on the piece in the space available. Questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.
From last week's postbag;

Q) As a Venezuelan, I have to ask: where this national side is going? I know you've mentioned before the unique set up where Farias coaches the youngsters as well as the senior side; but what do you think of the squad that just finished fourth in South America? Is it a farce? Was it just a reflection on the poor quality of football on display? Or could this team actually have a chance of qualifying for their first ever World Cup in 2014?
Diego Pacheco

A) Nothing farcical about it at all, and I don't agree that the standard in the Copa was so low. It wasn't always great from the point of view of spectacle, but in some ways it was the best Copa ever, because the quality of all ten South American teams has never been higher - as shown by the remarkable progress made by Venezuela.

They are certainly in with a chance of making 2014 - but then again, so is everyone else, even Bolivia, backed by the altitude of La Paz.

Specifically about Venezuela, what is so impressive about them is that now they haven't just got a team. They have a squad. Farias is feeding through players from the 2009 World Youth Cup side - Yohandri Orozco looks like the genuine article, as long as he doesn't suffer from moving to Europe so early he looks like a gem for years ahead.. I'm optimistic of their 2014 chances - but let's see how they deal with all these new expectations.

Q) What happened to ex-Brazil striker Rafael Sobis? He's In the Middle-East? Saw a bit of him at Internacional and he was a genuine prospect. Sharp, feisty, clever no10 / second striker with a fantastic shot on him. Guess Betis is a bit of a graveyard for promising Brazilian talent.
Andre Stephens

A) I too once saw him as one for the future when he was making his name with Internacional. He's back in Brazil after an injury hit time with Al Jazira. He went back to Inter, but it didn't really work out and he's now joined Fluminense where he's in the early stages of trying to establish himself. He's only 26, so there should still be plenty more to come.


  • Comment number 1.

    Ronaldinho! Amazing player, but clearly not the answer in 2014 surely!?!

    Neymar and ganso need to step up. Wasn't goofy 22 in 2002 and he was a star for Brazil by then.

  • Comment number 2.

    This would be a backwards step for brazil to call up ronaldinho in 2014

  • Comment number 3.

    After Brazil's performances after the World Cup, has the opinion of what Dunga achieved changed at all? His team was very impressive and would have probably won the world cup if not for a mad few minutes against Netherlands.

  • Comment number 4.

    Ronaldinho being 34 years old wouldn't necessarily be a deal breaker. Look at how Ryan Giggs reinvented his game as he got older. However, even though he had a lower playing load as a Wales international, that was a pretty rare and unique event. I wonder if Ronaldinho might achieve the same transition.

  • Comment number 5.

    Is Anderson from ManU even on the radar at full international level? I know he has flattered to decieve at times but his performances towards the end of last season and during pre-season and in the Community Shield show and increasing maturity. Surely is Lucas is being considered Anderson must be on the fringes!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Ottski: Lucas was Liverpool's best player last season, and one of Brazil's best reliable defensive midfielders. And Dunga has named him as a future captain.

    While I think Anderson is very talented, he plays in a position that Brazil are in no short of wonderkids.

  • Comment number 7.

    #4 I like the Giggs comparison. only problem is, Giggs reinvented himself as a central midfielder and I dont see Ronaldinho as having the discipline to do that. The only way he could fit in to the Brazil team now would be as a no.10 playmaker, but surely with Ganso (hopefully) growing into that role, there's no room for Ronaldinho? Unless the plan would be to try what Argentina did with Messi and play him as a fake no.9.

  • Comment number 8.

    completely agree with 3 - The Brazilians didn't like Dunga really because he was trying to get them to play an organised & disciplined game rather than the flair game that they (and everyone else) love but he had a winning squad & strategy assembled except for that crazy game against the Dutch

  • Comment number 9.

    Ronaldinho may well be too old for the next world cup, and playing for Flamengo is not the same as playing for your country, but.... I have to say his freekick goal against Santos two weeks ago was pure intelligence and foresight.If you have not seen it, it was not one of those lofted over the wall curling was so simple he waited until the wall jumped and then shot the ball along the ground under them ...beautiful.Flamengo came from 3.0 down after thirty mins to win 5-4 a craker of a game .

  • Comment number 10.

    Tim, in the article you said that Ganso was not really ready and he needed another creative player.
    Could Kaka be the answer?
    I know he's lost it and he's not the player when he was in AC Milan, but if Brazil give him another chance to prove he can play at international level, then that would be fantastic and by 2014, Ganso, Neymar, Pato ERA would be ready.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm astonished by the suggestion that Dunga's Brazil would have won the 2010 World Cup if not for a meltdown against Holland. They were the first Brazil team I had ever seen to have only two top class players (Julio Cesar and the injured Kaka). Even Maicon was just months from humiliation by Gareth Bale!

    I also think it is a great disservice to Ronaldinho to compare him to Ryan Giggs. Giggs may be a Premier League legend, but he is also a Champions League mediocrity of multiple years' standing, whereas Ronaldinho is probably one of the greatest thirty Brazilian players of all-time.

    There is, to be fair, one valid Giggs-Ronaldinho comparison. Giggs was a humiliated passenger in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals. Is there any reason to believe that Ronaldinho would have any more success imposing himself upon a World Cup at the age of 34?

  • Comment number 12.

    It would be a backward step to play him in 2014 though im sure that every football fans would love to see a last bow from Ronaldinho. We need a few more players like him in football every now and then, Thiago Alcantarra from Barcelona seems to be a similar type of player.

  • Comment number 13.

    Dunga and his God Damn anti football anti Ronaldinho robbed the world of this players international prime. Infact Dunga has mudded the waters of the great Brazil for years and the damage will not be undone for many more years.

    I know first and foremost Brazilan’s love to win, but a Brazil without flair players is like fish n chips less salt and vinegar, unpalatable. And it wasn’t only Ronaldinho who the fiend Dunga shunned, there was also Diego and Lyon’s Juninho. That all three weren’t mainstays in the Brazilian national team during the last decade while Ronbinho was, is pure sacrilege.

    Look at the last time they won the world cup, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Ronaldo. Nuff said.

  • Comment number 14.


    Lucas isn't being considered he is a main stay. Fact is at £6m vs £21m for Anderson the lad is slowly living up to his billing having come through the same academy and club as Ronaldinho albeit diffrent types of player, Lucas is the REAL DEAL. Anderson has been ruined by Alex Ferguson confusing the lads out and out attacking midfield abiltiy with that of cultured centre half playing in midfield. A complete nonsense if you ask anybody who was remotely interested in the lad pre United and as a result, Anderson doesn't know if he's coming or going.

  • Comment number 15.

    I have always been a big fan of the Brasilians. However, the Copa America squad was disappointing and a disaster and Mano Menezes should have been fired. I watched Ganso play against the US and he played well and then of coarse he was injured after that. Himself, Neymar and Robinho are very lazy and their only desire is too play when Brazil have the ball. In addition, those (3) have no intentions of "mixing" it up as the other Latin American countries brought the game to a new level of farce with their fouling, diving and time wasting. Menezes' squad lacked chemistry, were slow on the ball and only Pato, Lucas, Thiago Silva, and Maicon (brought in for the ineffective Alves) were effective. And what happened to Nilmar and the young center forward from International Leandro Damiao. Ronaldinho is not going to help this squad but Kaka will. He needs a more balanced squad.

  • Comment number 16.

    at 11 yakubusdiet -

    I didn't see anyone suggesting Brazil would have won the WC were not for the Holland meltdown, the posts only state the obvious - that Brazil was doing fairly well until then. It is fair to assume Brazil thaough that would have fared better than Holand in the final. Nobody denies Spain as the better side but the truth is they did not steam roll anyone, not even Paraguay, so Brazil could very well had made things even harder for them.

  • Comment number 17.

    (sorry, a meltdown myself in the second phrase)

    at 11 yakubusdiet -

    I didn't see anyone suggesting Brazil would have won the WC were not for the Holland meltdown, the posts only state the obvious - that Brazil was doing fairly well until then. It is fair to assume though that Brazil would have fared better than Holand in the final. Nobody denies Spain as the better side but the truth is they did not steam roll anyone, not even Paraguay, so Brazil could very well had made things even harder for them.

  • Comment number 18.

    Another attacking player to help Ganso you say? Perhaps one who also brings a different quality to the team, a bit of physicality and ability defensively? Perhaps someone who plays in England like ANDERSON!?! Or is he already starting for Brazil? I not then WHY ISN'T HE!?!

  • Comment number 19.

    It seems to me that any call up for Ronaldhino would be falling into the same trap that Capello and England do whenever the chance to blood young talent comes around.
    Everyone knows the deal with Ronaldhino, he is undoubtedly a genius but a rogue one at that. There is surely little to gain by calling him up for matches which are designed solely to provide for the futures. Brazil need to look at long term prospects which Ronaldihno simply cannot be a part of.
    It amazes me for a nation with so much young exciting talent that the clamour for old unreliable heroes remains. Surely Tim you agree that Brazil would learn and gain a lot more by playing Neymar,Pato god even Kaka than resorting back to washed up playmakers as good as he is?

  • Comment number 20.

    whats all this nonsense about a crazy performance against the dutch.
    the brazilian team is rubbish face it. i hope they can sought it out by 2014

  • Comment number 21.

    ...............are we seriously doing this again?! How depressing. Ronaldinho's finished, and he'll be even slower & fatter come the next world cup. Ridiculous.

    Mano Menenzes has been a disaster. Again, I was one of the few who pointed out that, although Dunga didn't play "The Brasilian way" he had a superb record with a group of players that pale in comparison to Brasil teams of old. The lack of "special" players currently available to Brasil has been shown up since the managerial change, and it's the only reason yet another Ronaldinho love-in has popped up in this blog!

  • Comment number 22.

    at 20. clogsnbogs, probably you are right, they were rubbish, but who weren't? As rubbish as they were they beat Messis's Argentina three times - one of them with several players missing, another one at the Monumental, in Buenos Aires - and also won the Confederations Cup and Copa America and lead the SA qualifiers. No one is saying that Brazil was better than Spain - and probably also not better than Germany - but they could have beaten anyone else. Let's face it the whole tournment was equally rubbish anyhow.

  • Comment number 23.

    The kind of touch football the Brazilians play, Ronaldinho could just be absorbed for a couple of years at most. What if he shines in friendlies; an old horse can. Will they carry him till 2014.
    May be last Copa has indeed queered the pitch and self-doubt is bound to creep in.

  • Comment number 24.

    Leading scorer in the league playing for the top team creating and scoring goals. Looks like he has regained some pace and is playing with a big smile obviously happy to be back home and enjoying his football. Probably not the answer for the world cup but would add to the national team in the short term even as a super sub. Glad to see him enjoying the twiglight of his career at Flamengo - a class act still even if not the same as a few years ago

  • Comment number 25.

    at 21 Roberto_Mexicano, you are missing the point. Do you follow the Brazilian League? Probably not, if you did you would know he is indeed playing well and, in a time when Brazil itself is faltering, of course we will turn our heads to him again. He is only 31 - nevermind Ryan Giggs, a huge number of players today are 31 or over, still at their best. Ronaldinho was never seriously injured, or never seriously fat, like Ronaldo. I would be loathe to say he will surely recover his best form, but why should we not at least hope when that is still possible? Like you said yourself, it's not like there are many other options at the moment.

    PS: and for all Brazil's current lack of talent, Neymar came in leaps and bounds in the last months, was toughened up in the Libertadores, and despite having a bad Copa Maerica, is a dead cert future mega-star. Watch his goal against Flamengo (in the above mentioned clash eventually won 5-4 by the Rio side) and you will know what I mean.

  • Comment number 26.

    and pardon my dislexia...Copa AMERICA

  • Comment number 27.

    He's really not that good. He has great vision and some skills that would impress your friends in the park....but a complete player and professional he is not!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Normally home advantage at a tournament helps overcome the rustiness of 2 or 3 years of friendly competition, but in the case of Argentina and Brazil, I don't think it will be a great help. I think they are more than happy to turn on their team if they don't get off to a good start.
    England didn't start Euro 1996 convincingly against Switzerland, but at least the crowd didn't turn on them, and they soon picked up form and momentum.

  • Comment number 29.

    Obviously I speak of Argentina in the recent past and the pressure they were under to perform at home. I can't speak for them in 1978, since I wasn't born yet. Did the crowds support them from the beginning, or when they got near the final, or when the military told them to?

  • Comment number 30.

    Tim, what about Lazio's playmaker, Hernandes? I think he should've been considered long before Ganso --- and I'm still thinking that Vasco's Diego Souza needs to be on the National Team, experimenting with Ronaldinho might be fine for a friendly or two, but Souza can be played wide or as a support striker. And please, lets try to find Vagner Love a spot on this national team, I don't care if his extensions are blue, green or rainbow, he's more of a presence as a Number 9 than Pato is today.

  • Comment number 31.

    But Ronaldinho the Barcelona player was applauded off the pitch at the Bernabeu. A park player, with jumpers for goalposts, would be hard put to achieve that in his life. Did Messi also get that honour after he helped destroy Real? That zero-backlift goal around the chelski defence from 18 yards was magic too. At 26, having won everything already, who wouldn't take the foot off the pedal a little? I think it's ridiculous that he's slated as a fat waster. It's just disappointment that he's not still showing us his best. Just as it was disappointing when Ronaldo's career (the real one, not the handbag model) petered out.

  • Comment number 32.

    Perhaps because of transfer fees, media-talk about the next wonderkid and discussion of potential, people confuse

    youth = good

    old= bad

    When the truth is

    "if you're good enough, age doesn't matter"

    And that applies to both ends of the age spectrum.

    In my opinion, Ronaldinho should still be an automatic choice for Brazil. I don't see that the kids are better than him yet.

  • Comment number 33.

    I don't agree that the standard in the Copa was so low.

    Sorry but were you watching the same Copa? The main reason it was competitive is that Brazil and Argentina are nowhere near the teams that they once were. Paraguay and Columbia are equally weak relative to their teams a decade or so ago.

    True the minnows of Venezuela and Bolivia are better as has happened the world over with professionalism but the only to really make progress on a world stage is Uruguay.

  • Comment number 34.

    @13 - Last time they won the world cup they also fielded Roque Junior, Gilberto and Kleberson. Nuff said.

  • Comment number 35.

    Playing Ronaldinho would be a waste of time. As has been mentioned by everyone he is not going to be a feature of the 2014 side.

    People saying he could slot in now for a couple of years? Why? Brazil don't need to win a football match for three years, all that would do is take away the chance for promising youngsters to establish themselves in the side. Brazil have a unique opportunity to spend 3 years building a team for their home World Cup with no need to worry about qualifying and short term performance, only the long term, bigger picture. Brazil need to pick a coach and stick with him to allow him to build his team for 2014!

  • Comment number 36.

    Oh Tim. Alas I fear that gone are the days when your presence in these discussions was prominant and ultimate!

  • Comment number 37.

    I totally agree with you that the lack of maturity,form & also the improvement in quality of opponents as the major season why the brazillian team didn't perform well in the last copa america but i also think that the 4 3 3 formation & putting players with similar qualities in both midfield & attack also contributed to their poor display..With the exception of a few players,i still think that brazil can do very well with this squad..I love ronaldinho but i think mano menezes should be looking to the future and not looking back.

  • Comment number 38.

    Yohandri Orozco has made a premature move to vfl wolfsburg

  • Comment number 39.

    Put Kaka In Midfield But The Problem Is Dat Neymar. Pato or Damaio Need Someone who can really score goals and that someone is Luis Fabiano. Brazil Need Someone Like Sniejder. That Someone is Anderson

  • Comment number 40.

    Anderson like Snieder....................HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I always thought Snieder was a very good player, and not a big steaming pile of average! lol

  • Comment number 41.

    I think the rise on Ronaldinho in Brasil is purely down to the general poor quality of the league itself. Although he has been impressive in most games this season (especially the Santos game where he himself won it), I dont see him as being the answer. The clamour to include home playing talent such as Neymar and Robinho is what stops Brasil from having a great national team. These player whilst good at home just cant make the change that Brasilans have come to expect of their national league.

    I might be being harsh, but being good in the national league is a long way off being good enough (historically) for the national team. At least not this group of players.

  • Comment number 42.

    at 30. Vagner Love would be the perfect player to put into this side... if he werent playing in Russia.
    Pato plays better as a Right Forward with a goalscorer in the middle i.e. Ibrahimovic with Milan. A front 3 of Pato Fabiano and Neymar would be fantastic if Neymar can mature into a true footballer by signing for the likes of Chelsea or Barca.
    Anderson and Lucas are both useless in comparison to Luis Gustavo and Ganso, they are not the answer. Hernanes will also need to improve to get a regular spo in this team.
    Ronaldinho was so good in his prime. If he can spent 3 good years improving and working hard then I definitely think that he should be in the squad as his maturity will benefit the young players.
    The best side:
    Maicon, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo
    Hernanes, Gustavo
    Pato Ganso Ronaldinho
    Fabiano Neymar

    Pato and Ronaldinho would help Ganso a lot and the inclusion of two defensive midfielders would allow Ganso and Neymar the freedom that they need.
    Robinho is a very, very disappointing player and I think that his laziness would be a bad influence on that team.
    Also, 3 years is a long time. Both Neymar and Ganso will be in Europe and they will both have matured into great, great players.

  • Comment number 43.

    at 41. 1903george

    I agree it is a nonsense to wish for a Brazil side only with players from the national league but I think many of your statements are off the mark - first, the Brazilian league has been steadily improving and particularly this season is at a reasonable level - maybe still a litle bit far off the top 4 European leagues but generally on par, footballing-wise, with all the others.
    Second - Neymar in particular might still be playing in Brazil but he has all that is required to shine in any top side and in any top league - I think it is totally right to play him and let him mature in the Brazil shirt.
    Third - apart from a 6-month stint last year, Robinho has not played in Brazil since 2004...

  • Comment number 44.

    sorry i got a bit carried away :/

  • Comment number 45.

    AlexAD, Robinho went on loan to Santos last year...

  • Comment number 46.

    sorry missed your bit about that :)

  • Comment number 47.

    When Brazil left Ronaldinho out of their World Cup squad for the World cup in South Africa- that was a very big mistake and it showed, because although it could be argued that He was not as menacing as when He first bursted unto the scenes- The magic was coming back at AC Milan.

    The recall is good now, but 2014 is still a long time and at 34 then in the position that He plays- He would have to be doing exceptionally well to hold on to that spot. I hope He is able to manage himself well until then, because He is certainly one of the greatest player of his era.


  • Comment number 48.

    I agree with the ones who say that Ronaldinho is the right man for Brazil's national team. He is one of the best players ever.

  • Comment number 49.

    I think brazil should change Mano manezes. Big phil would get them winning. Btw where is he?

  • Comment number 50.

    In total agreement with No. 47
    "When Brazil left Ronaldinho out of their World Cup squad for the World cup in South Africa- that was a very big mistake and it showed"

    Simply this Brazil with its current crop of strikers at the recent WC and Copa America were not lethal. The biggest culprit, Pato, 'philanderer or squanderer' , given the numerous goal scoring opportunities. You can't win if your STRIKE RATE is poor given a finite amount of opportunities against WC opponents. Brazil should be winning with bigger margins if their strike rate were back to that of their halycon days.

    Pato isn't Ronaldo, Romario or Ronaldinho. Once the Brazilians grasp that concept and place in the right striker they will be back to the glory days.

  • Comment number 51.

    I wouldn't blame the media for an anti-Ganso backlash. his form at Santos is terrible, and, yes, it was the media that praised him for 6 months (1 year ago) of great football in the second tier competitions (Copa do Brasil and Paulistão), but Mano should know better than to use him as the lone playmaker (as you said), and worse, with no substitute in mind. I think Hernanes would do well with him, but he seems to be discarded by some obscure reasons.

    I think Ronaldinho in the Seleção (in his current form I don't see why he couldn't be called) would AT LEAST be a substitute for Neymar (given that if he played in Robinho's place, he would need to help in defense). with a lot of questionable calls (Andre Santos, Elias, etc) and dismissals (Hernanes, Marcelo, Hulk, etc), there's no reason why Ronaldinho couldn't not be called too...

  • Comment number 52.

    I'm always interested to see the effect of the headline on the subsequent debate.

    Nothing at all wrong wit this week's headline (which I don't do), but the article covers other ground before it gets to Ronaldinho - such as the value of international friendlies, changes in Brazil's squad for the Germany game and the treatment of Jadson.

    Clearly the Ronaldinho issue is the most interesting to a wide audience, but there are other debating point in there.

    Anyway, for those interested, Redacao Sportv tomorrow morning.

  • Comment number 53.

    My view is that friendlies are a good time to try out new players and to get a team used to a squad and formation. What made the Brazil 2002 team so good was the teamwork and understanding of each other. Scholari must have played the same base squad for his games but then tried out different individuals to make his team perfect - which he did. Menezes needs to get his team working well together in these friendlies and make his team perfect - even if that means playing players that aren't considered the current world best, such s Ronaldinho (and maybe Adriano if fit).

  • Comment number 54.

    Three years is a long time...but I like what David Beckham did. Hard work, dedication, team work and regular scoring contributions would be hard to ignore. What separated this type of situation was that the manager decided to keep Beckham in the squad. This is what will make the difference. A vibrant Ronaldinho will affect the motivation and the attitude not to mention the mind set. For many people winning starts and finishes in the "head"....and Ronaldinho believes he is still one of the best. Hence good managers are made by the decisions they make and stand by...I say play him...its a win win situation...too ignore him...with his following and the cheers of the nation would be a mistake...use him and Brazil will be hard to beat.

  • Comment number 55.

    I still think that R10 has got it in him. His downfall has been more because of his attitude and fitness. He still is sheer quality, and as it was no one would have known of Messi if he would have accepted the extension that Guardiola offered him. Moreover Kaka also has the same touch as he had, injuries and fitness did do a lot of damage. Bring both of them in, see how they fare in the friendlies and then take it forward

  • Comment number 56.

    The good thing for Brazil is that if Ronaldinho is still playing at a level expected of him in late 2013, they can just call him up into the squad for the final few friendlies to see how he fits.

    Until then as well, they can pander to the masses and bring him in every now and again without there being any real risk.

    Just because he plays in a bunch of friendlies leading up to 2014, doesn't give him a divine right to be in the World Cup squad, nor is it morally wrong to ignore him for the next 3 years and then call him in at the expense of someone who's played in many more friendlies.

    It isn't a qualifying campaign, so Brazil are sort of in a win-win with Ronaldinho.

  • Comment number 57.

    Would the real Brazil please stand up? The world hasn't seen you since you won the World Cup in 2002.

    If Brazil bring back Ronaldinho then they might as well call up Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Romario. I think many Brazilians are still living in the past and need to get a grip. You need to get behind the team and support them, especially because they are a young squad, and especially because that's what fans are supposed to do. It doesn't help a team and its coach if the media and fans are constantly complaining and moaning about how bad the team is. Just ask England!

  • Comment number 58.

    The mixed blessings of being World Cup hosts. You get to play in front of your own fans but at the same time that adds to the pressure especially when things go wrong. And you get the chance to experiment without having to qualify yet at the same time have a long period without any competitive football.

    But what is always good to have when staging a WC are some players who are both experienced and respected. Ronaldinho is certainly one of those. The prospect of a swansong in Brazil at 34 might just be the motivation he needs to do a job helping to guide some talented but wayward younger players along the way.

  • Comment number 59.

    At WC 2002 there were some experienced (and superstars) guys like Rivaldo and Ronaldo which guided young lads like Ronaldinho and Kaka. Now there is no one to do this job, and guide Ganso or Neymar because a whole generation of players is lost (Ronaldinho, Kaka, Adriano). So i understand why Mano Menezes called Ronaldinho again. Ronaldinho and Kaka should have been the big names in this Brazil squad, taking all the pressure at their backs and leave space for younger Ganso or Neymar to bloom slowly. It's all about smooth transition from one generation to another. Without players like Ronaldinho, or Kaka all the pressure goes to younger stars and there's danger to be burned. I even see Kaka, get a recall if he returns to his old standards.

    Now about the call - ups.
    Some of the call-ups are strange. I can't understand why Anderson, Hernanes, Renato Agusto, Douglas Costa and all these players who play at Ukrainian or Russian does not take a chance in these brazil squads. They are not worse than the current players who play at the midfield.

    In attack things are even worse. Nilmar is not included. Leandro Damiao isn't either. Luis Fabiano (30yo) is dropped from the national team. Hulk (who was amazing, last 2 seasons) doesn't play either up front.
    Pato isn't such a great class. Fred is not Fred of the past and Robinho doesn't score goals. Brazil lacks a classic and classy No9.

    But i think they will sort it. After all they are Brazil....

  • Comment number 60.

    As a football fan who recalls the sublime days of Pele, Gerson and Rivellino I feel that brazils problems stem from the fact that their best players for so long have been spread around the world. Perhaps they should use the German plan and nurture a team of youngsters to bring them through together to compete at the next world cup after their own one. As for a 3yr solution I do not hold out much hope for success as from what I and the world saw in the Copa was a team lacking purpose and direction! they need a drastic new outlook and under the present regime it seems sadly missing.

  • Comment number 61.

    Mr Vickery keeps saying 'the Brazilian press' were keen to hype Ganso but he is clearly as guilty. I have been reading this blog for a while and Mr Vickery has been portraying this guy as the next best thing since sliced bread.

    Now that it is clear that Ganso is just 'potential' rather than 'reality', it would be honourable for Mr Vickery to share the blame rather than wholly put it elsewhere. There is no shame in this.

    On the Brazil copa squad, a great problem they have is playing Pato as a number 9 - which he is clearly not. Great player but still more of 'potential' in my opinion. Every Brazil team that has gone on to win anything had a dangerous goal poacher - Ronaldo da Lima, Romario..even Luis Fabiano who was generally reliable in front of goal and would have doubtles put away one of those many chances Pato missed. Pato is more of a Wayne Rooney type player than a Thierry Henry or Alan Shearer type.

    That other young player Lucas something also looked very very good!

  • Comment number 62.

    This article is 3 years too premature!

    With Ganso/Neymar being 3 years older and presumably playing regular European football by 2014, who is to say they aren't 'stepping up'...

  • Comment number 63.


    I saw the highlights of that santos 4 flamengo 5 thriller game and I agree a very intelligent free kick to contribute to ron's hat trick. Eclipsed though by Neymar's skill to score santos' third goal, which was simply sublime!

  • Comment number 64.

    Hi Tim, interesting point about ganso. however there is another attacking midfielder i am interested in which is Rodrigues Lucas of Sao Paulo. I hear he is another player to watch, and with so much interest on Ganso the pressure could be off Lucas and he can mature into the next "number 10" for brazil?

  • Comment number 65.

    Interesting that we'd expect Ronaldinho to do at 31/34 what he has consistently failed to do during his entire career: tip the balance for Brazil at the international level.

    Ronaldinho has always struggled in tough fast-paced matches and I'd not expect that has changed now that he is slower and less fit.

    Neymar and Ganso must move abroad! I understand it's good for the Brasileiro having players of that caliber around, but it hinders their development. Both players should get used to Paraguay style of tough (sometimes rough--but legal) defending and that is allowed in Europe, but not in the Brazilian league.

    While the Brazilian league has indeed improved, the disparity of talent is still there. You've got high profile players playing along or against players who wouldn't be able to play anywhere else.

  • Comment number 66.

    At his best, one of the most skillful players in the history of the sport, and one of the most exciting. He is, for me, one of the greats. His demise must be duly noted, I understand, and he may be too old by the next Cup, but older players often become even greater distributors because of their vision and the need to change fully from recipient to distributor, like the older Bergkamp, Maradona, Scholes, etc. One brilliant pass to unzip a defense can make the difference. If he's fit and hungry, it's possible he could fill this role.

  • Comment number 67.

    61 - Dazz wrote

    "Mr Vickery keeps saying 'the Brazilian press' were keen to hype Ganso but he is clearly as guilty. I have been reading this blog for a while and Mr Vickery has been portraying this guy as the next best thing since sliced bread.

    Now that it is clear that Ganso is just 'potential' rather than 'reality', it would be honourable for Mr Vickery to share the blame rather than wholly put it elsewhere. There is no shame in this."

    MR Dazz is mistaken. While recognising Ganso's potential, I never went overboard. I was firmly against the idea of taking him to the World Cup, and when he came back from injury earlier this year I wrote a piece here pointing out that responsibility was being heaped on someone who hadn't actually done very much.

    I've been wrong many times, and will be again - not on this occasion.

  • Comment number 68.

    Hi Tim,

    Just want to know what your opinion is of South Americans playing in leagues other than Brazil and Europe. I'm particularly interested in those South Americans playing in the MLS. While yes the MLS is clearly not a marquee league it does attract attention to stars like Valderama. I'm just curious do these players that play in the MLS find their way back into their own international team?

    Thanks again. Once again, great article. Always a great read.

  • Comment number 69.

    Great article Tim - like that you're responding to comments too (-;

  • Comment number 70.


    whilst I respect your opinion I tend to disagree with most. I dont think in anyway a match between Gremio and Minerio is anywhere near the standard of say the Swedish league. Watch any Brasilan game and half the time they cut out the midfield. There are great teams to watch, inter for example, but they cant pull it off week in week out and wouldn’t survive in a European league which suggests neither could the majority of their players.

    I dont think breeding Neymar at an international level does anything for the Brasil national team. In fact by playing Neymar upfront Brasil make themselves beatable. They have an obvious talent but these arent the days of Pele, you need to come out and prove it in the best leagues. Slipping past an aged Fla defense might be great to watch but when you have some Venezuelan kicking you (as point proved) it isnt that easy.

    AS for Robinho, well he might be a great player, just no one has seen it for some time.

    I am a fan of the Brasilan league, but then again like English lower league football. We would all like to see a dominant Brasil, but it wont happen for some time. When you see Fred coming on (awesome in the Brasilan league) for his national team you know there is some years of transition to be undertaken. Kind of gives hope to everyone else!

  • Comment number 71.


    he done the same in a game for barcelona.

  • Comment number 72.


    ye if they are relying on pato as striker then give up. even ronaldo before he retired was still a better striker than most in the world. the days of a brazil team with ronaldinho and o fenomeno are gone and will never be back. now it's average at best.

  • Comment number 73.

    the point I was trying to make about brasilian players being spread world wide is that their skills seem to become dimmed after awhile and when back in the national team that they do not seem to gel together or play with the flair we all hope they would? Is this because they no longer have national pride, team spirit or that the national expectation of them is too high and the pressure too great? Also it would seem that Brasilian fans as do English ones quickly turn upon their heroes? To my mind I am of the idea that great players do not need a lot of coaching you should merely pick the team give them a game plan and simply tell them to play to their own ability and enjoy the game.

  • Comment number 74.

    Your blogs are only surpassed by your replies to misguided accusations. Good to see a blogger with a pair of something large and round. Maybe a few other bloggers will learn to answer questions, or defend themselves, as dirrectly as you do. If we didn't want to read your opinions we wouldn't read your bloggs.

    Keep up the excellent work, and if you can, help fetch robbo back.

  • Comment number 75.

    Playmaker and striker Ronaldinho is still young. At mere 31 it is a bit too early to bracket the renowned goal poacher in the category of the old. Brazilian Seleção is yet to find an adequate replacement for the gifted ball player. Till then Ronaldinho will linger in the minds of fans, opponents and national selectors. He should be back in the national squad in the friendlies. Best wishes to Ronaldinho in his come back efforts.

  • Comment number 76.

    I don't know if there is an answer to this, there are comments about the talents(the players), but feel like the thing that is missing is someone with a clear vision how to play "jogo bonito". There is a lack of an attacking minded tactician on the level of master Tele Santana. The play must be sugar sweet for the eyes you know. Do they have someone like him?


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