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End of the road for Ronaldinho's Flamengo

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BBC Sport blog editor | 10:25 UK time, Monday, 16 April 2012

While Europe's Champions League is down to the last four, the South American equivalent, the Copa Libertadores, is whittling down its field to the 16 teams who will go into the knockout phase.

Twelve places have so far been filled, with some high drama along the way.

For a few sweet seconds, for example, Flamengo of Rio thought they had saved themselves from elimination.

Fielding the likes of Ronaldinho and Vagner Love, they should have strolled through, but a disappointing campaign left them needing a combination of results to go their way in last Thursday's final round.

They had to win at home to Lanus of Argentina - the relatively easy part, since their opponents had already made sure of qualification. The hard part came in the other game, which kicked off at the same time. Olimpia of Paraguay and Emelec of Ecuador had to draw.

The winner in Asuncion would go through with Lanus.

Flamengo had made sure of victory by half-time, but news came in from Paraguay that Olimpia were a goal up.

"Emelec, Emelec," sang Flamengo fans.

They should have been more careful what they wished for because, by the time the final whistle blew in Rio, the Ecuadorians had turned things round - they led 2-1, with five minutes of stoppage time to play.

Ronaldinho's Flamengo crashed out of the Copa Libertadores. Photo: Getty

The Flamengo crowd applauded their team - Ronaldinho had finally produced a performance worthy of his name - but they were resigned to elimination.

And then Olimpia equalised. Suddenly Rio was about to party. The crowd sung in jubilation, the Flamengo players hugged each other, jumped up and down and gave interviews celebrating their miraculous escape - all cut short and turned to tears by the news that Emelec had gone straight up the other end and scored a 94th minute winner.

And so it is the Ecuadorians who go through, after winning both of their last two games in stoppage time.

But they might not be the biggest surprise team in the last 16. Both Bolivian representatives still have a chance, despite no side from the country making it out of the group phase since 2000.

The Strongest, though, will need to perform a super-human show of strength to progress. They need a win away to reigning champions Santos of Brazil, and it is entirely possible that only a five-goal victory margin will be good enough.

Bolivar, meanwhile, have a much better chance. They only need a draw against Universidad Catolica of Chile, and they are playing at home, where the extreme altitude of La Paz makes life so difficult for the visitors.

But there is a striking detail in Bolivar's campaign because they have picked up more points away than at home. Even more striking is the way they have done it.

Typically, Bolivian sides on their travels will attempt to be ultra-cautious, hanging off their own crossbar like a collection of bats, hiding the ball and praying for the final whistle.

The Bolivar of 2012 are very different. In all three of their away games, they have looked to take the initiative, playing at a high tempo, throwing their full-backs forward, fielding strikers in wide spaces and seeking to set up triangles and create two-against-one situations down the flanks.

Part of the explanation for this bold new approach can be traced back to Barcelona. Angel Hoyos, Bolivar's Argentine coach, was in charge of Barcelona B from 2001-6, during which time he helped a certain Lionel Messi on his way.

After leaving Catalonia he spent five years in Greece and Cyprus, before moving back across the Atlantic to join Bolivar at the start of last year.

Perhaps his finest hour so far in his current job was the 1-0 win away to Junior of Barranquilla in this year's Libertadores. The massive stadium of the Colombian club can be an intimidating arena for visitors, and the heat can be awkward for altitude-based Bolivians.

However, Hoyos' team deserved their win.

"I told the players," he said afterwards, "that they were allowed to lose the game, but they were not allowed to lose the idea, the philosophy and the valiant mentality."

Such a bold approach has its risks. Bolivar can lack the penalty area presence to take advantage of all the width they create, and the attacking approach, especially the high positioning of the full-backs, can leave them alarmingly open.

Last week, away to Union Espanola of Chile, they conceded a type of goal rarely seen in top-class professional football.

The opposing keeper's punt forward left Jaime free down the left channel, one-on-one with Marcos Arguello in the Bolivar goal. Sebastián Jaime nodded past the keeper and the ball seemed to be going in until centre-forward Emanuel Herrera provided the killer touch almost on the line - end-to-end in three touches, one of which may have been superfluous.

But the opposing counter-attack will always be a risk for a team which seeks to take the initiative, and it is surely best for Bolivar to stick to their guns on Tuesday night rather than rely on the fact that a draw is good enough to get them over the line.

Universidad Catolica are dangerous opponents. They have been a huge disappointment in this year's Libertadores, coach Mario Lepe struggling in vain for the right blend, but they are packed with attacking talent and, with Chilean sides more comfortable than most at altitude, they will fancy their chances of saving themselves.

Going all out to exploit Catolica's defensive deficiencies is the home side's best bet as they seek to become the first Bolivian club in more than a decade to reach the knockout stage.

It is the way Bolivar have played it so far, and the way coach Hoyos is making a name for himself.

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

From last week's postbag:

Q) I have heard a few good things about Paraguayan striker Mauro Caballero, but I have never seen him play myself. I have heard there is interest in him from within Europe, despite him only being 17. Is he actually something special, or is he another that at present is only potential and needs time? I often feel players who cut their teeth in Europe, particularly in Portugal, often do better as professionals. Do you think this path would suit him as well?
Thomas Wright

A) I do hope Caballero could be something special. His dad was a good player, but the son looks better. He has a good left foot, jack-in-the-box penalty area pace and awareness. He is a very exciting talent. With him at Libertad and the strikingly mature Alexis Henriquez at Universidad de Chile, this is proving to be a good Libertadores for 17-year-old strikers!
Of course they need time, and I'd hate either to be rushed into a premature move. The most important thing at this stage is to get first-team opportunities.
I take your point about Portugal - it works well for some, but not nearly as well for others who are deemed surplus to requirements. The Portuguese giants buy up so many South Americans that there simply isn't space for many of them.

Q) I was wondering if you could shed any light on the fortunes of Kerlon? I seem to remember him being the star of an Under-17 tournament, but since he signed for Inter I haven't heard, or seen, anything of him.
Andy Ingram

A) He's trying to get fit enough to play for Nacional of Nova Serrana, a relatively small club who play in the State Championship of Minas Gerais (Brazil).
He did come to prominence in the South American Under-17 tournament seven years ago, where he won instant fame with his 'seal dribble' - running with the ball bouncing off his nose.
He was much more than a trickshow artist, though. He really stood out for the versatility of his attacking midfield talent.
However, two things have stalled his career. First, he became a victim of his party piece, under pressure to produce the 'seal dribble' every time he played. Much worse, though, was a succession of injuries.
They first struck in 2005 - he missed that year's World Under-17 Cup and, ever since, it's been one injury after another. He's been at Nacional for months, and is only now ready to play for a few minutes.
He's now 24, and you fear for him ever launching a senior career - a real shame, because with his quality and imagination he was shaping to be a very interesting player.


  • Comment number 1.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 2.

    Nice blog Tim, I enjoy learning a bit about the south american game each week. I would be very interested in watching some of the libertadores but cant seem to see any listings for it anywhere on television, im guessing the matches would take place late at night for a UK audience, im surprised theres not a highlights show or something like that, if anyone knows where i can find coverage, let me know

  • Comment number 3.

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

  • Comment number 4.

    No 3......

    Wrong Blog you're debating.

  • Comment number 5.


  • Comment number 6.

    Very good blog Tim. I think a highlights package of even just the Copa Libertadores would get some decent ratings in the UK. If a number of european countries tried this it would also increase the investment into this competition and therefore the clubs, this would hopefully stop the destruction of a number of talented young south american players careers with a premature move to Europe.

  • Comment number 7.

    2# you can watch the copa libertadores on subs channel premier sports along with brazilian league and the argentinie championship i think is £8 per month or you can watch it online thou a streaming site .
    anyway back to the artical i think Flamengo are a good side in terms of players but can-t seem to produce results . the club seem to work around ronaldinho who has blown hot and cold and was the main reason why Luxemburgo was sacked because he was trying to stop ronaldinho going clubbing. plus its intresting to hear about kerlon as well

  • Comment number 8.

    Loved the "collection of bats" image Tim.
    Where to now for Ronaldinho, I wonder? He presumably has the Brazilian championship to look forward to, but Flamengo must be wondering about their return on the investment. He has blown very much 'hot and cold'. Against Santos last season he showed glimpses of why he was once considered the world's best player.
    However, if his has lost his enthusiasm for the game, one can fully understand that, after the sort of ludicrous refereeing we saw in the FA Cup semi-final yesterday.
    The official reluctance to resort to technological support to resolve issues of this nature inevitably raises the question of whether the football authorities actually want decisions to be fair. Could it be that results are manipulated to favour certain teams. If that's the case, the people who say "the controversy is all part of the game" are playing into their hands. Perhaps they are supporters of the main beneficiaries of these dubious (sometimes absurd, as yesterday) decisions.

  • Comment number 9.

    Ronaldinho needs to saty in Brazil i think, the mans a legend and won the lot, he's one of the best i have ever witnessed play the game and what a joy he was to watch too, i would hate for someone to snap him up in the premiership and he retire after a poor spell at a lower club like many have done before him.

  • Comment number 10.

    I bet he wishes he went to Blackburn instead...

  • Comment number 11.

    To add to Tim's answer on Mauro Caballero I've likened him to Robbie Fowler for his movement and instinct in the box, he is a very talented player and personally I hope he goes to Europe soon because in Libertad he is being rotated (they have a very strong squad) and there is a huge gap between the standard of Paraguay reserves or Portugal/Holland/Germany reserves not to mention the level of coaching.

    I've written about Maurito here if you are interested:

  • Comment number 12.

    The Chilean player is called Angelo Henriquez, of club Universidad de Chile. Manchester United has a contract with "La U" (as Universidad de Chile is known in Chile) to have a first priority for him, valued at aprox $ 5 Million.

  • Comment number 13.

    Tim, it would be interesting to comment of what is happening with Argentinean club in Copa Libertadores and Sudamericana. I think they are exprting so many players at an early age to Europe that they have lost competitiveness in the region. Brazil still has been repatriating top players to be able to compete, but if the trnd continues dont be surprised to see more Emelecs and Ligas from Ecuador, Universidad de Chile, or others winning more and more in the next few years...

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Tim, I was at the recent The Strongest vs Internacional game, The Strongest gave it a really good go, such a shame when Inter equalised in the last few minutes.
    It got me wondering, what is the disparity in resources between Brazilian and Bolivian teams in the Libertadores? I am assuming the Bolivian teams must be the poorest in the competition?

  • Comment number 15.

    1 - the reason Vagner Love is back in Brazil is entirely because that's where he wants to be - he's a very talented centre forward, two footed, turns well, with the ability to play anywhere in the world - but he never seems to score the amount of goals that he is capable of.
    Kleberson wasn't in the squad for the Libertadores - he's recently rejoined the team after recovering from injury at Atletico-PR.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hoyos - or Angel Guillermo Hoyos to give him his full name - was with Maradona and co in the Argentina squad that won the 1979 World Youth Cup. His career includes a spell at Boca Juniors, but he never really fulfilled his early potential - proved, I think, byt the fact that he had a spell in Bolivian football.

    he's certainly a coach to look out for, though - he seemes to have the players behind his project. Bears a slight resemblence to Mick Hucknall of Simply Red fame - something's got him started.

  • Comment number 17.


    2 questions if you don't mind:

    1) What has the reaction to Corinthians signing of Chen Zhizhao? And while they haven't hidden the fact that this is a commercial signing, will the manager be forced to field him?

    2) Ever since Luiz Felipe Scolari took the Chelsea job his career has nosedived a little and with Palmeiras not doing great in the Sao Paulo championship, is his position under threat?


  • Comment number 18.

    Flamengo totally deserved to go out of the Libertadores. They did not play well enough throughout the group stages to be able to decide their situation themselves. They depended on Emelec to draw against Olimpia, yet Emelec are not a charity.

    'In all three of their away games, they have looked to take the initiative, playing at a high tempo, throwing their full-backs forward, fielding strikers in wide spaces and seeking to set up triangles and create two-against-one situations down the flanks.

    Part of the explanation for this bold new approach can be traced back to Barcelona.'

    I would love to know what is Tim's love interest/obsession with Barcelona that he keeps harping on about them and giving them credit for things they don't deserve. Throwing full-backs forward is predominantly Brazilian, since the late 50's/60's, fielding strikers in wide spaces sounds like a remnant of Brazil's 4-2-4 system from the late 50's/60's while setting up triangles and two-against-one situations down the flanks sounds predominantly South American in general. Where are the pioneering tactics from Barcelona then? What is Barcelona doing that is new and innovative? Nothing.

    Why doesn't Tim write an article about a team that is worth writing about, he did it partly with the article on Santos and Pele. Why not write about Flamengo 1981? Their historic South American and World Championship achievements made 30 years last year, no article then and no article since.

  • Comment number 19.

    Tim's writing is great, I appreciate the stories about South American football, which I like very much. Next to the Libertadores, the Champions' League is a picnic; if not for the football itself, for the kind of places clubs have to travel to for their matches. It is not uncommon for bricks - yes, bricks or pieces thereof, to be thrown at the visiting team in places like Paraguai, Colombia even Argentina.

    Guys like Neymar of Santos are physically assaulted as part of the "football" that is played. Why do you think Messi shines in Europe and disappears in the colours of Argentina?

    In regard to Ronaldinho, he ewas been booed out of sight in most matches he has played for Flamengo, in the Rio State Championship and carried that form into the Libertadores. Too little too late, his only decent match (which by the way was played in Rio in one of the suburban grounds) was when there was no more pressure on Flamengo, as there were sure not to qualify, barring a miracle that ultimately did not come. One of the comments I've read in the press in Brazil is that Ronaldinho shrinks in big matches (called Classicos in Brazil).

  • Comment number 20.

    Ive not seen too much Brazilian football, in terms of full matches, but I was able to attend Corinthians v Sao Paulo in February and I couldn't believe how physical it was. Obviously throughout history South American football has been played as tough but there were some really bad tackles during the game, especially on the flair players.

    Has Ronaldinho struggled with that side of the game on return to Flamengo? Or just he simply isn't leading the life as a pro, on and off the field?

  • Comment number 21.

    lol... I was looking for the edit button to edit out some typos. Since I can't find it, I would just like to add in Ronaldinho's defense that it is common for Brazilian players to do pretty much as they want outside of the footy field. Also, apparently the guy has not been paid his salary in ages. The company which sponsored him into Flamengo has been defaulting and the club itself cannot cover such high wages as Ronaldinho still commands.

  • Comment number 22.

    I think the fact Brazilians play on the beaches at home gives them a massive advantage when they go to play in places like Portugal where the beaches are also very good. They do seem to get found out more when they come to places like England where the surfaces are always grass.

  • Comment number 23.

    @ 21: that's kind of significant isn't it. We complain about professionals not justifying their huge wages, but it's hard to be motivated when you're not being paid at all!
    @ 9: I will forever be indebted to Ronaldinho for putting the joy back into a sport that was becoming cynical. It is a shame that he appears to have had his own joy of the game sucked out of him. I'm sure his clubbing lifestyle is a symptom, not a cause.
    @ 13: your comments make me wonder about other sides in the competition, or who failed to qualify this year after doing well last year. For example, last year's runners up (Peñarol) failed to get beyond the group stage - indeed they are bottom of their group, with just 1pt in 5 games! Semi-finalist Cerro Porteño and quarter-finalists Once Caldas and Jaguares didn't even qualify for this year's Libertadores. And quarter-finalist Univ. Católica is struggling in Bolivar's group and are facing an away tie against the only side they have any hope of catching. Only Santos, Velez and Libertad seem to have carried last year's form into this year's competition, with each one topping their group and just one game to play - the first 2 at home and Libertad already guaranteed in the knockout stages. TIM, is this a result of last year's best players leaving for Europe, or to a drop in form and/or the obvious difficulty of reconciling a current continental campaign with retaining your league place for the following season?

  • Comment number 24.

    Tim you state ...
    "Typically, Bolivian sides on their travels will attempt to be ultra-cautious, hanging off their own crossbar like a collection of bats, hiding the ball and praying for the final whistle."

    Have you got any you tube clips you can share as I have never seen this in a match. Hiding the ball seems a bit unfair and I would suggest against the spirit of the game. Also, when they hang off their own crossbar surely it gives an advantage to the opposition? I know south american teams lack the tactical prowess of European teams, but 90 minutes of swinging can't succeed surely. It wouldn't take long to realise that daisy cutters would ruin the defensive plans?

  • Comment number 25.

    There was incredible drama last week with the Flamengo-Lanus and Olimpia-Emelec games going on simultaneously. At various points on the night, each of Olimpia, Flamengo and Emelec were the team qualified but eventually it was Emelec making it through, probably the team most felt least likely to qualify. Flamengo did not lose out on qualification in this game they blew it when they threw away a 2-1 lead late in the game in Guayaquil, Ecuador and lost 3-2 to Emelec and when they blew a 3-0 lead at home to Olimpia in a game which eventually ended up 3-3. What is the view of those who see Flamengo more often than I do, a lack of concentration or a lack of fitness explains giving up these late goals?

    Good to see Luciano Figueroa, the often injured ex Argentina striker, playing for Emelec and contributing goals for them. A good finisher, Figueroa has been plagued with injuries throughout his career.

    Flamengo joins Peñarol and Nacional of Uruguay as clubs which surprisingly did not make it out of group play.

    Argentine league news- two well known coaches stepped down this weekend, Alfio Basile is out at Racing after his club lost their derby with Independente 4-1 and Nery Pumpido is out at Godoy Cruz as the club from Mendoza have had a poor season in both league and Libertadores play.

    Soccer Futbol Forum:

  • Comment number 26.

    Excellent blog Tom, I still can never pull myself away from the fact South American football seems to have the stigma of corruption attached to it. Where does the money come from like the bid for Tevez and where do it allegedly disappear to within the clubs / agents? Ownership issues / agents fees and the moving of players from South America in the likes of Spain and Italy as a gateway into Europe. I presume the competition down there does not bring in the vast amounts of money like the Champions League?

  • Comment number 27.

    I've watched many Libertadores Cup games live this campaign because of living in this part of the world and I have been very impresed with Universidad de Chile as they appear well organized and have an excellent striker. Catolica have been disappointing as Tim Vickery rightly says but keep an eye on Union Espanola as they doing enough to progress also although this weeks final round of games will determine their fate. More and more we are seeing the less fancied clubs of South America going well in the early stages.

  • Comment number 28.

    @23, Jaguares are a team that have had little success in Mexico and they will rarely be in contention to qualify for the Libertadores. Mexico have a strange system of Libertadores qualification, based on league results, outside of the playoffs, in their apertura. Also remember that the 2 Mexican league champions and 2 runners up are barred from the Libertadores and forced to play in the CONCACAF champions league.

  • Comment number 29.

    Tom, I'm with you on this one. I really did think that Flamenco would easily make it in to the latter stages of the competition. Do you think that the coach needs to take any of the flak or should it be put firmly on the shoulders of the likes of Vagner "Buddy" Love and Ronaldinho?

    Ronaldinho really does amaze me, I really have followed his career all the way through, particularly his European adventures. I remember watching him as a teenager at PSV, I think he was only 15 but he scored something like 40 goals in 46 games, it was amazing. And then of course he moved to Barca, where he had a similar scoring record. Of course he then moved on to Italy and I believe that was where his troubles began. Injuries and weight issues. Plus there was that story about the cross dresser. He was good at Real Madrid, but you always felt he could have been better. He looked as if he could be the greatest ever. Now of course he continues to frustrate the fans at Flamenco. I'll be honest, I've not followed him so much since he went back, but does he still suffer in terms of being drawn to the nightlife and the distractions away from football?

    Great blog by the way Tom.

  • Comment number 30.

    Sorry, Tim, not Tom.

  • Comment number 31.

    Very interesting blog Tim. The Lanus-Flamengo Olimpia-Emelec was absolutely spectacular and is a perfect example of the drama and excitement of the Libertadores.

    For anyone interested on further reading about Mauro Caballero, here is a piece i did on him a little while ago. He's a great prospect and the buzz around him his certainly justified

  • Comment number 32.

    Number 24. It is highly unlikely that you will find any YouTube footage of this, not because Tom is lying. But because YouTube doesn't exist yet in Bolivia, or indeed in many parts of South America. China is the same.

  • Comment number 33.

    Interesting fact about Ronaldinho, not alot of people are probably aware of this but in his spare time he plays the violin.

  • Comment number 34.

    Comment 33. It's funny the things that some footballers do as hobbies. And often it's those that you'd least expect.

    1) Ronaldinho with his violin
    2) Rio Ferdinand actually does ballet!
    3) Lee Cattermole is very much in to his cooking and actually took a course in French cookery from none other than Marco Pierre White

    Any more that people know about?

  • Comment number 35.

    Number 32.
    Youtube is indeed banned in some countries, not sure exactly the reasoning behind this but nevertheless for me its a restriction of peoples freedom.

  • Comment number 36.

    Interesting on the Ballet, some footballers turn to things like this plus Yoga to give them extra flexibility (bet it doesn't go a miss in the bedroom either, nudge nudge) and can help in preventing muscle injuries. I know someone who moved to Thailand recently and set up a Yoga business, its going really well to be fair, took off really quickly and I'm pleased for her. I also used to date her when she was at University prior to her embarking on her career. We keep in touch and hopefully she will be expanding the business in the coming months. Not sure if any Footballers over there actually turn to Yoga or it has gone as fair as the South Amercian league, to be fair I think there are other things in Thailand to spend money on though.

  • Comment number 37.

    Post 36. Good point on the yoga! Let's add that to the list :) I've also remembered another one too that I will add.

    1) Ronaldinho with his violin
    2) Rio Ferdinand actually does ballet!
    3) Lee Cattermole is very much in to his cooking and actually took a course in French cookery from none other than Marco Pierre White
    4) Ryan Giggs: Yoga
    5) Esteban Cambiasso owns a garden centre just outside Milan and is a huge gardening fan. He even landscaped Edgar Davids' old garden!

  • Comment number 38.

    to add to the hobbies list apart from the drinking,gambling,womanising,cheating,cross dressing,homophobia and drugs abuse i know that maradona has shares in a company that makes prosthetic limbs

  • Comment number 39.

    To be honest I thought Ronaldhino had retired & become starter at the Grand national at the weekend !

  • Comment number 40.

    1) Ronaldinho with his violin
    2) Rio Ferdinand actually does ballet!
    3) Lee Cattermole is very much in to his cooking and actually took a course in French cookery from none other than Marco Pierre White
    4) Ryan Giggs: Yoga
    5) Esteban Cambiasso owns a garden centre just outside Milan and is a huge gardening fan. He even landscaped Edgar Davids' old garden!
    6) Maradona: Prosthetics limbs!

    Does anyone else know of any quirky hobbies of the modern day footballer?

  • Comment number 41.

    39 suzykins........i thought he fell at the 5th

  • Comment number 42.

    Former liverpool player Craig Johnson invented the hotel fridge that automaticaly charges you when you remove an item. It seems that inventing things and facilitating the great rip off that is inside a hotel fridge is his hobby!

  • Comment number 43.

    predator that johnston

  • Comment number 44.

    1) Ronaldinho with his violin
    2) Rio Ferdinand actually does ballet!
    3) Lee Cattermole is very much in to his cooking and actually took a course in French cookery from none other than Marco Pierre White
    4) Ryan Giggs: Yoga
    5) Esteban Cambiasso owns a garden centre just outside Milan and is a huge gardening fan. He even landscaped Edgar Davids' old garden!
    6) Maradona: Prosthetics limbs!
    7) Craig Johnston: Inventing things!!

    This is great! Any more? :)

  • Comment number 45.

    I've just remembered one that I was really surprised about when I read it a few years ago... Papa Bouba Diop is actually a very good equestrian rider! Apparently he had a choice between that and football and obviously chose the football route!

    1) Ronaldinho with his violin
    2) Rio Ferdinand actually does ballet!
    3) Lee Cattermole is very much in to his cooking and actually took a course in French cookery from none other than Marco Pierre White
    4) Ryan Giggs: Yoga
    5) Esteban Cambiasso owns a garden centre just outside Milan and is a huge gardening fan. He even landscaped Edgar Davids' old garden!
    6) Maradona: Prosthetics limbs!
    7) Craig Johnston: Inventing things!!
    8) Papa Bouba Diop: Equestrian/horse riding

  • Comment number 46.

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

  • Comment number 47.

    45....amazed about the coincidences....carroll and papa bupa both into hosses and then johnston and papa buba with the fridge connection,one inventing and one nicknamed!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 48.

    46 and my post moderated???????? is it cus of the word g--psees cus what ive stated happens every year

  • Comment number 49.

    I am also amazed that you seem to have completely forgotten about Robbie Fowler's passion for Line Dancing !!!!

  • Comment number 50.

    or paul mersons juggling

  • Comment number 51.

    Stephen Bywater interestingly has a penchant for creating erotic art.

  • Comment number 52.

    The 4-4 Newcastle v Liverpool game will always live long in the memory. Any documentary on the history of the Premier league will touch on this game, a true advertisement for English football (accepting the brutal defending!).

  • Comment number 53.

    @bobby knows best
    I am a keen gardener myself & wondered if you knew if Cambiasso sells plugs or seeds direct or via mail order ?
    It would be most impressive to have friends & relatives around for a BBQ & watch their amazement when I tell them where my new Azalea was from !

  • Comment number 54.

    Pal, why are you talking of RONALDO NAZARIO (the Phenomen)?? The guy that plays in Flamengo is RONALDO ASSIS MOREIRA (also known as Ronaldinho Gaucho), who played at Grêmio until 2001, then Paris St Germain, then Barcelona, Milan and now Flamengo.

    Ronaldo Nazario never played at Flamengo. His last club was Corinthians, then he retired, and now is very obese.

    Besides, Ronaldi Nazario never played at Europe at the age of 15. At 16 and 17 he was still playing for Cruzeiro. He moved to PSV at around 17 to 18.

  • Comment number 55.

    stan collymore likes drive ins

  • Comment number 56.

    interestingly Cup liberators is that any one of 32 teams can beat the teams competing. in the Champions League always win the top 12 teams and perhaps the lyon, the lower teams in the league champions are weaker than those under the liberators although Europeans do not accept you.

  • Comment number 57.

    56. I would agree that la liberadores is more open, but do you really believe that Emelec or even Flamengo could beat any La Liga/Premiership team in a competitive game?
    Also, a Cypriot team made the quarter-finals this year, so maybe Platini's dream is finally happening...

  • Comment number 58.

    Both Flemish and Emelec Can beat any team from South America or South Americans la liga we Consider the fourth best European championship and not the second because it is more Difficult to play in england, italy and germany, the problem is the South American teams That Suffer descrimination because of the style of play and Slower rate, When he has to play a great game and the game speed force They appeal to physics. the British for example are instructed to play any game in all the great rhythm team and not just the big games, so has the competition more intense in the world. Apoel was talking about the level of six Brazilian second division and some Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish without prominence and still cam Indicates something away from it.

  • Comment number 59.

    La Liga for us South Americans do not bother us with your level because you have the loose marking and the players are not as strong as in italy england and germany, the South American press considers La Liga as the best initiation into South American and Europe in particular caution Milan, juventus and inter as the best way to improve the technique. a question?
    even if you think South American teams that play hard and hit it when the result would have easily won by Betis, Espanyol, zaragoza, Atletic biobal ​​of others. make me laugh half the cast of Spanish teams are South Americans who do not serve their selections of players equal to the national championships.

  • Comment number 60.

    Sorry me for the google translator

  • Comment number 61.

    58 - 59 I agree that the teams other than Barca/Real Madrid are weak, so maybe you have a point there. I don't think it's the slower pace of the South American teams that's a problem. If you have the ball, you do not concede goals, so it doesn't matter if you play slowly. The problem is that when (from what I've seen from the Brazilian and Argentine leagues on TV, which probably isn't as much as you have seen) they lose possession, most South American teams have difficulty organizing themselves and many goals are scored on a counter-attack. It's true that this happens in the big European leagues too, but it doesn't happen as many time in a match. I also think that the ball is lost too easily. It's difficult to compare because Santos v Barcelona is only one game and Barcelona are far stronger than any other European team right now.
    I just feel that your belief that the lower 20 from the Champions' league would lose to the teams in la copa is unrealistic. There are always two or three very strong teams in South America, but I can't imagine the rest of them having much chance against Manchester United (fell in group stages), Manchester City (group stages), Dortmund (group stages) or Internazionale (last 32). That isn't a reflection on the quality of South American football, it's just that European clubs have more resources at the moment, so the big European teams can take players not only from Latin America, but also Africa. It makes a good league, but it doesn't mean the Europeans are better, they just have a better ''product''.

  • Comment number 62.

    Billy Bremner was a keen collector of Pokemon cards after he retired. There was even rumour that the creators were so delighted that they were considering creating a Pokemon character actually in homage to Billy.

    Pele ove decorated an entire house with coloured coconut shells - some feat !!

  • Comment number 63.

    Apologies for taking the thread off the topic of footballer hobbies but it does always surprise me somewhat that the big high profile Southern American teams like LA Galaxy dont play a part in these competitions. They would certainly generate a massive amount of publicity and Vicky Beckham getting in a sweat at altitude in Equador would certainly cause a stir.

  • Comment number 64.

    @ 29: you are, understandably, confusing the player Ronaldinho who became Ronaldo and is now Ronaldão (because of the size of his gut) - who played for Cruzeiro/PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, ACM and Corinthians (retired last year) - and Ronaldinho Gaúcho - who played for Grêmio, PSG, Barcelona, ACM and now Flamengo. The former was one of the greatest strikers in the history of the game, and might have snatched Pele's crown if his career hadn't been blighted by serious injuries. The latter was one of the most exciting and entertaining players of the modern era and also became MVP. It was quite confusing, even for Brazilians, when both played for the national team earlier this century.
    @ 57: I'd say either of them would come into a game (on a neutral ground with neutral ref) on even terms with any teams in the lower half of either of those leagues. That's not to say they are better (though on paper they should be), but merely that they are as good, in terms of ability. Where I believe the major differences lie are in the superiority of Europe's top teams and the fact that standards drop quite sharply in S.Am once you get outside the national first division. Lower league teams in England are better organized on and off the pitch than Brazilian lower league sides (I cannot talk about other countries, for lack of familiarity with lower league standards there).
    @ 58/59/60: it's Google who should be apologising. But at least it keeps us translators in business!

  • Comment number 65.

    @ 26: day to day life in S.Am generally is blighted by corruption (and in politics it is even out in the open these days - they don't even bother to hide it anymore), but football is corrupt everywhere it is played. Seems to be the nature of the beast.

  • Comment number 66.

    When Tony Adams was unable to use a motor vehicle he used to walk home from the training ground and pick up every disposable chippy fork he found on the floor, at one point he had the largest selection of these forks in the Northern Hemisphere.

  • Comment number 67.

    65. I agree corruption is rife in general in South America. I remember when Peru won the Eurovision Song Contest - every neighbour voted for them just so they could host it the following year. I am certain plenty of money must have been involved.

    66. Funnily enough Tony Adams actually signed a chippy fork when he stayed at Sandbanks in Dorset (where they hosted the World Beach Football Championships). It is still proudly on display at the beach bar where he spent most of his time.

  • Comment number 68.

    when I said that the teams below the South American is stronger than the teams below the champions league I said that 12 teams and lyon are the best European and add the manchester city now. the main European equipeus in general are byern Munich, real madrid, barcelona, internazionale, milan, juventus, chelsea, liverpool, manchester united, arsenal, lyon,, and now we have ajax manchester city and psg, and maybe benfica and port that always work, the problem is that everyone does not always qualify for the champions League.Os traditional south americanos teams would have no difficulty to the point of being humiliated by dortmond or atletico de madrid, can be defeated or may win, but in the Champions League there are teams in the north and south of Europe which are weak so you have to recognize

  • Comment number 69.

    in Brazil has the team playing corinthians tactical scheme of the three attackers and two flywheels. Other day I was reflecting on the feature players from Brazil and I saw the Corinthians That Could Be cast as the manchester united is the cast of the hand of Alex Fergusson I bet the league title in Europe connect with this team. defense has a more technical and a more hard Chicao Castan and are not even near the level of ferdinand and vidic but the gameplay is similar, on the right side alessandro the veteran who played in another position so he HAD an international career, he cares more about defense than attack like the Europeans like, on the left side to side "Fabio Santos'' who have great skill but defensive problems Which resembles evra, Could play with William on the right wing a young man who runs a lot and has great technique and makes many goal as well as valence, the tip Could play danilo who is a veteran of many left-handed and multi-class winner was the 10 shirt against Liverpool in sao paulo 2005 world club he resembles the way the play Giggs, the right That wheel ralf born but the marker has a good pass and Can Be Stimulated to dare more in creating and steering wheel to the left'' to'' paulinho fast player and dedicated Reminds me very much the dedication of Fletcher but more and more offensive marker , organizes the game but not as well as Fletcher, in front of the striker emerson a very strong and bold defense that is not afraid at all and goes up fearlessly despite the force has a lot of skill but this is the rooney the wall, and center forward Liedson not remember anyone's manchester but it is fast and killer. this comparison may be stupid, the manchester contest the European Championships which is more visible and therefore seems to be difficult to compare. but what does the manchester he is the league competition and rhythm playing games. In south america all Their Lack of speed is the main cause of the falling level of the teams and not the quality of players who are taught from childhood to have much skill. may be to blame the technicians.

  • Comment number 70.

    You have written a good article about the copa libertadores, but you have not mentioned anything about universidad de chile who have also qualified for the last 16 Being that they are the current copa sudamericana champions I think they are worth mentioning in one of your articles........Please dont get the great U DE CHILE mixed up with Universidad catolica which is a team of almosts........

  • Comment number 71.

    I have just got back from travelling around South America and in La Paz I nearly went to a Strongest game vs either Potosi or a team from Cochabama. I can't remember. Did I miss out? What is the standard of Bolivian domestic football like?

  • Comment number 72.

    "Fielding the likes of Ronaldinho and Vagner Love, they should have strolled through..."

    Really?...Flamengo (Ronaldinho included) were thrashed last year by Universidad de Chile in the Copa Sudamericana.

    Maybe you're thinking of the Ronaldinho that used to play for Barcelona years ago. That player was magical. This one only shares the same name and that's where the similarities end.

    There is a reason why Brazilian players that return from Europe to play in Brazilian clubs don't perform. They love the lifestyle and have already earned enough money to take it easy and take football only as a hobby.

    So I wouldn't expect any of these formerly famous players to help any team to "stroll through" any opposition, especially ones that are hungry for success.

  • Comment number 73.

    70 - I've written many times recently about Universidad de Chile - this week 17 year old striker Angelo (not Alexis - Sanchez on the brain!) Henriquez gets a mention - please pay attention at the back!

    72 - the massacre Flamengo suffered at the hands of la U was before Vagner Love rejoined the club, so you can't pin that one on him. He is a class act, though he never quite scores the goals that he should be capable of. And Ronaldinho, for all his defects and wayward lifestyle, can still do some extraordinary things. Perhaps typically it was too little too late against Lanus, but he laid on two goals in wonderful style.

  • Comment number 74.

    Bolivar safely through - scored in the first minute and coasted to a 3-0 win. First Bolivian side in the knock phase since 2000.


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