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November 23, 2007

Ronaldinho's jersey: not the most interesting anymore

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According to sales reports, Barcelona supporters have responded to Ronaldinho's recent poor form by shunning his No. 10 shirt in favor of those worn by other blaugrana stars: Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry.

Indeed, El Periodico the Brazilian publishes that midfielder's shirt was the most popular among Barca fans last June.

However, sales have plunged 40 percent in the last four months compared to the same period last year, the paper said, quoting industry sources.

Recent lacklustre performances by the two-time world player of the year have "begun to have alarming and negative repercussions on his commercial image," it assured.

Sales of the shirts of Argentinian-born striker Liones Messi, who made the team in 2005, and Frenchman Henry, transfered from Arsenal this year, are now more popular than those of Ronaldinho, who has been at FC Barcelona since 2003.

We must say that Ronaldinho Gaucho has come under fire in the Spanish press this season both for some abject performances on the pitch and unprofessional behaviour off it.

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Brazil had a hard time beating Uruguay in World Cup qualifier

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In an intense World Cup qualifier, Brazil came from behind to defeat Uruguay. Despite it, they were upstaged by Paraguay and Ecuador who both went on scoring sprees.

Sevilla's Luís Fabiano scored both goals as Brazil overcame their smaller neighbor, 2-1, in Sao Paulo on Wednesday night. The host was heavily indebted to goalkeeper Júlio César for its first win over Uruguay in eight years.

In other games, Paraguay won, 3-0 ,in Chile to go top of the South American qualifying group. Ecuador, which conceded five goals in each of its last two games, beat Peru, 5-1, to pick up its first points.

With four of the 18 rounds of matches played in the 10-team group, Paraguay leads with 10 points followed by Argentina (9), Brazil and Colombia (8), Venezuela (6), Uruguay and Chile (4), Ecuador (3), Peru (2) and Bolivia (1).

In "Morumbi" stadium, Sebastián Abreu gave Uruguay an eighth-minute lead. Only a series of spectacular saves by Júlio César stopped the visitors from adding a second goal.

Toward the end of a poor first half, the home fans began to jeer Brazil, and the Morumbi stadium echoed with whistles and boos from the unhappy fans.

But in the final minute of the half, Luís Fabiano raced to the goal line and fired with almost no angle, somehow shooting between the legs of keeper Fabián Carini, the Uruguayan goalkeeper, to level the score at 1-1.

"We didn't play well, especially in the first half, and we gave the ball away a lot, when our passing is usually our strength," Dunga, the Brazilian boss admitted. Uruguay continued to press forward in the second half, with Suarez beating Gilberto in the opening minute and forcing Júlio César to make a diving save.

It's important to mention that Dunga replaced Ronaldinho with defensive midfielder Josué.

"In the second period we tightened our marking and played like we did in the Copa America," Dunga assured. "I'm happy with my team. We have to improve, that's logical. But it's not just technique - it's a moral question. It's just attitude."

According to reports, Luís Fabiano put Brazil ahead after 64 minutes, controlling a rebound after a shot by Gilberto Silva and drilling it for the winner.

In the end, Uruguay remained on the attack, and a minute later Abreu forced Júlio César to make another sensational save. Jorge Fucile fired over the crossbar, and Gilberto barely deflected a shot by striker "Loco" Abreu.

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