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July 04, 2006

The most painful elimination is against France

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It is certainly one of the biggest fails in the World Cup history. Ronaldinho and the rest of the Brazilian team were so expected to make history and win the title, that they couldn't take the pressure. And they failed.

The most painful part is that they lost to France, a team that became professional in the art of eliminating Brazil. It's important to mention that they had arrived in Germany as World, Copa America and Confederations Cup champions, the latter two titles having been achieved with wins over old enemies Argentina.

But maybe they peaked too soon, producing a dream performance to beat Argentina 4-1 in the Confederations Cup last year. Carlos Alberto Parreira, usually criticised for being over-cautious, reverted to the veterans for the knockout stages amid a collective sigh of exasperation back home.

Their ageing squad produced a performance of breathtaking apathy against France as they failed to seriously make goalkeeper Fabien Barthez work.

It's really amazing that with 20 minutes to play and the team 1-0 down in a World Cup quarter-final, Brazil often had six players in their own half of the field calmly exchanging passes as if they had nothing to fight for.

It was almost as if they had come to believe they had a divine right to be in the final and that they would score almost at will.

In fact, Cafu, their 36-year-old team captain, admitted as much, "I had the sensation that we felt we could settle the clash from one moment to the next," he said.

It's fair to say that it has often been the case in the recent past. In many games under Parreira Brazil have looked second-best but their ruthless efficiency in front of goal has given them what in the end looked like easy wins.

Their 3-0 win over Ghana in the second round was typical, with the West Africans dominating large parts of the match. Now we can say that Parreira has not yet officially quit or been sacked but there seems little likelihood that he will continue in the coaching.

Brazilian fans destroy Ronaldinho statue

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Many furious Brazilian football fans have destroyed a seven-metre tall statue of world player of the year Ronaldinho after the team lost to France in the Germany 2006 World Cup. The local mayor's spokesperson says the statue, made out of resin and iron, in the southern town of Chapeco in Santa Catarina state, was burnt over this weekend.

Kattielly Lanzini, author of the masterpiece, told the police to start an investigation. It's important to mention that the statue was worth more than $ 2300, and it was about to be sold.

It is an amazing expression of anger against a team that was absolute favorite for this Cup, and against a player that was once loved and admired in Brazil. But we know that Ronaldinho has enough class to recover from this hard times.