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‘Fat’ Ronaldo versus ‘old’ Zizou Saturday

Hanover/Dortmund, June 27: Did you say fat' Fifteen is fat. Very fat.

And 34 is old. Very old for football, the experts were saying.

But it’s Brazil versus France on Saturday in Frankfurt. Ronaldo against Zinedine Zidane. Fat against Old. 1998’s final replay in 2006’s quarter-finals.

Ridiculed for being overweight, Ronaldo became the top scorer of the World Cup, slotting in Brazil’s first of three goals against Ghana in the fifth minute, overtaking Gerd Mueller of Germany.

France won 3-1 against a more formidable opponent, Spain, Zidane hitting the last goal in stoppage time when most soccer pundits were predicting his demise.

Patrick Vieira had put France ahead nine minutes earlier. Spain had started powerfully, winning a penalty in the 28th minute. But Franck Ribery equalised in the 41st minute.

Brazil won comfortably, but the 3-0 scoreline was a cruel reflection of Ghana’s skill that left the Magic Quartet and all the rest of the world champion team panting for breath at times.

Ronaldo’s goal, of course, was breathtaking, too, in its finish and in the pass Kaka rifled through Ghana’s high defence line.

“That (the record) was never my goal, it’s just something that’s happened,” Ronaldo said later.

As the Ghanaians thought they had sprung the offside trap, Ronaldo raced to pick up the ball, stepped over it to the right, throwing goalkeeper Richard Kingston to the wrong side, and tapped it in.

“I sensed I had to trick the goalie somehow' so I decided to do that dribble.”

A moment of magic. The kind of magic his strike partner Adriano did not have as he wasted a similar opportunity. He scored later, but from an offside position.

Ghana players protested and their coach Ratomir Dujkovic was banished to the stands at the end of the first half by the referee. “I said it would be better for us if he put on a yellow jersey,” Dujkovic explained.

Midfielder Ze Roberto scored the last Brazilian goal.

It was an easy win in the end. But is Brazil looking like the champion' Not quite. And is it playing the Beautiful Game' Not quite.

Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, of course, said: “History records five world championships, not the beautiful game.

“Playing very well is not important, winning is.”

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