The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ronaldinho is playing too safe
- World champions lived dangerously against The Australians
Talking Tactics

PK Banerjee

Another average performance, another close verdict for Brazil. Parreira’s men are banking on maximum returns from minimum effort. But I dare say the world champions lived dangerously, especially on Sunday night against Australia.

After being frustrated by the hard-tackling Socceroos for 45 minutes, Ronaldo set up goal No. 1 for Adriano. The scoreline stayed 1-0 till the final minute when the just-introduced Fred sidefooted the ball into an open goal after Robinho’s shot had come off the base of the sidepost.

Between the 49th and 90th minute, though, the Australians came within a whisker of an equaliser more than once. Kewell, introduced in the second half, went for power rather than placement, while Viduka’s chip over an onrushing Dida gained more height and lodged on the roof of the netting. In between, Dida produced a sensational one-handed save off a Bresciano push.

If the Aussies had taken any of those chances in the final 15 minutes, the world champions would have been hard pressed to get a winning goal.

The first 45 minutes were very disappointing from Brazil’s point of view. Okay, they were not there to match or outdo Argentina’s display the other day, but I definitely expected them to put in a lot more effort than they produced in Munich.

Ronaldinho, in particular, needs to work harder on the field. Here’s the world’s best footballer spearheading the champions’ challenge, and what do we get' A couple of good passes and mostly static for the remainder of the match. He’s playing from a limited zone and not giving himself a chance to create opportunities.

The Australian tactic was predictable. They came hard at those Brazilians who are capable of creating havoc. But if you are such a talent, you have to take risks at some point or the other. Ronaldinho, I have to say, is playing too safe.

Kaka, on the other hand, played to his potential and protected his reputation. He showed his dreaded speed, took shots at the goal and threatened the Aussie citadel more than once.

Ronaldo was surely an improved player compared to the game against Croatia. He has definitely become slower and needs a few more days to be fully match-fit. But he did what Ronaldinho is expected to do but couldn’t: created the vital first goal. Trapping a routine forward pass from Ronaldinho, Ronaldo held the ball, drew three defenders and then slid the ball square for Adriano to slot it left-footed between the keeper’s legs.

Early in the game, Ronaldo produced another piece of magic when he chest-trapped the ball and side-flicked it to Kaka to unleash a right-footer which missed the target ever so narrowly. The two brilliant passes apart, Ronaldo had a crack at goal which should have been on target, and missed a side-volley by not being able to reach the ball.

I would give Ronaldo some extra marks because despite Grella Vince leaving spike marks on his shin with a nasty challenge in the 10th minute, the Brazilian didn’t get over-subdued, a la Ronaldinho. That foul, by the way, should have attracted the red card. Thankfully for the Aussie medio, the referee didn’t see the incident clearly.

Full credit to Parreira for persisting with Ronaldo despite the rest of the world crying for his head. He may not have scored in two games yet, but Brazil still need him. More so as Ronaldinho looks well below-par.

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