| For Ronaldinho, every game is a final
Saint Etienne: Old foes Brazil and Turkey face off for the third time in a year here Monday, the prize being a place in the Confederations Cup semi-finals.
A late Rivaldo penalty lifted Brazil to a 2-1 win over Senol Gunes’ side in the first round of the World Cup last summer, the South Americans going on to beat Turkey 1-0 in the semi-finals.
The form book therefore suggests it will be the World Cup champions who will come out on top in this group B encounter, but as this tournament has shown nothing should be taken for granted.
Paris Saint Germain’s greatly coveted striker Ronaldinho laid it on the line. “We’ve got to win, but that’s always the case with Brazil. For us every game is a final,” said the striker who is being linked to Manchester United, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
“We’re a young squad but we’re getting to know each other better and better and our game is getting quicker,” added the World Cup winner.
Brazil find themselves in this last chance saloon scenario after an abject showing against Cameroon, the African champions who are already guaranteed a semi-final berth.
Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said: “Turkey are technically very astute, it’s going to be a tough match. Most of my players are very tired, they’ve had two games in three days and need rest. I’ll be checking with my medical staff to see which ones are in the best condition.”
Despite his fitness concerns, Parreira’s side seem to be coming to the boil slowly and will start favourites to send the Turks packing even if they have failed to live up to their billing as the best team in the land.
Gunes, meanwhile, was spitting blood after Cameroon edged Saturday’s match with a last minute penalty. “We came to play football, unlike our opponents,” he stormed. “We were the stronger side, but someone (the referee) wanted to stop us getting to the final.”
His comments brought a sharp rebuke from a Fifa official, who suggested his outburst was ill-timed in light of Fifa’s drive for fair-play. “It’s not the time to be talking like that,” Gunes was told.
Monday’s second match sees the already eliminated United States take on Cameroon in Lyon.
They may be heading home but us coach Bruce Arena is looking forward to the game as another opportunity to give his young squad experience at the highest level ahead of next month’s Gold Cup tournament.
Arena said: “These games are invaluable for us. If we can show improvement that’s good. Our objective is to prepare a new team for qualifying (for the world cup) next year.”
He added: “I’ll probably play a somewhat different line-up but we’ll be approaching the game with a positive attitude.”
The US, though, will have their work cut out to contain a buoyant Cameroon seeking their third straight win which would see them top the group for a last four match up against the group a runners-up in Lyon Thursday.