Tag Archives: adriano

Who’ll strike for Samba squad?

Hadi Zogheib

As usual, Brazil is one of the favourites heading into this summer’s FIFA World Cup. And, as usual, there will be no shortage of talented players battling it out for places on the plane to South Africa. One of the most difficult decisions coach Dunga faces is deciding who will join Luis Fabiano in leading the line for Brazil’s attack. There is no shortage of candidates to play up front, and though Villareal’s Nilmar and Santos’ Robinho have both played there in the past, neither is guaranteed a starting job. The lack of a solid, emerging young striker has opened the door for some familiar faces to make this year’s Samba squad.

Could chunky Ronaldo have one more World Cup left in his legs?

Ronaldinho is reportedly desperate to strut his stuff on the world stage one final time, but his tendency to drop into open spaces and try to beat opponents one-on-one goes against Dunga’s counter-attacking philosophy. This may be the reason he hasn’t been called up to the national team in over a year. What Dunga wants is an out-and-out striker with a nose for scoring in the box. So, who are the other candidates?

Last week’s Copa Libertadores match up may have provided the answer.  The match, which was viewed by an estimated one third of Brazil’s 200 million people, pitted Ronaldo’s Corinthians against Adriano’s Flamengo. Followers of European football may have thought these former stars had retired, but both have been playing very well in the Brazilian league for some time now. Ronaldo has reportedly been training harder than ever and, if Adriano can kick his habit of partying too hard, his natural talent may be just what Dunga is looking for. While neither veteran could be considered a lock to play in South Africa, don’t be surprised to see a blast from the past in the famous yellow jersey this summer.

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Time to rewrite Serie A obituary

Hadi Zogheib

It seems the death of the Serie A has been greatly exaggerated. Just four years ago the top flight of Italian football was mired in a match fixing scandal, the Calciopoli, one that threatened the viability and reputation of the league’s very future. And even though it served as a rallying cry for the Italian national team, who so admirably put the scandal behind them and played their way to a fourth FIFA World Cup crown in Germany that summer, the fallout in the Serie A itself was difficult to ignore.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

In the three years following, the Serie A bore witness to one calamity after another, all of which threatened to label Italian football as a “has been” league. Having Juventus stripped of its 2006 title was just the beginning. Rapidly declining attendance throughout the league soon followed. Italian clubs began finding it difficult to lure bright, young talent, as many starlets opted to play in Spain or England instead. Serie A was quickly garnering a reputation as a league for world stars whose skills were on the decline. There was no Messi, no Ronaldo, no Rooney. Instead, fans watched an aging Beckham, an overweight Ronadinho, and the volatile Adriano.

The once feared European giants of Inter, AC Milan, and Roma couldn’t get a sniff of late round Champions League play in the years following the 2006 World Cup. Time and again they found themselves a step behind Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Lyon and Bayern. Worst of all, the league is on the verge of losing a Champions League berth to the Bundisliga. (Serie A currently has four Champions League spots compared to three for the German league).

This year, amid the doom and gloom, something changed and Serie A found its feet again. It’s hard to put your finger on one event that caused the turnaround. Maybe it was the arrival of Jose Mourinho as manager of Inter. Perhaps it was the the rebirth of Juventus through crafty management, or the ability of the lesser teams to scout talent from under the noses of the Spanish or English giants. All of a sudden the Serie A is the place to be once again. Attendance is up in many stadiums. Young stars such as Marek Hamsik, Mario Balotelli, and Javier Pasatore are lighting up YouTube. The league is the most competitive it has been in years, with 10 teams vying for the fourth Champions League place, separated by just eleven points. At the top, there’s a thrilling title race between the three time champions Inter and Roma, who carry one of Europe’s longest domestic unbeaten streaks at 22 matches.

And Italian teams are once again being noticed in Europe. Fiorentina eliminated Liverpool from its Champions League group. AC Milan waltzed into the Bernabeau and handed Real Madrid a rare home loss. And Mourinho’s Inter salvaged Italian pride by marching Inter into the semi-finals of the Champions League, allowing the Serie A to retain its four qualifying places, at least for one more season. Yes, 2010 has been quite a year in Italy.  And with another World Cup just two months away, other nations are no doubt sweating.

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