BBC Sport
Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
| Help
Last Updated: Sunday, 24 April, 2005, 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK
Brazil bring in old and the new
By Tim Vickery

Brazil legend Romario will be back in his national colours
The Brazilian Championship got under way this weekend and, between now and the final round at the start of December, there is much more than domestic glory at stake.

There is also the chance to gatecrash next year's World Cup.

Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has already stated almost the entire squad to defend his country's title in Germany 2006 will be drawn from players already in Europe.

But he is well aware of the pressures he will face between now and then.

Brazil's proud football culture is offended by the fact that all of the country's best players are tempted abroad.

As a kind of self-defence mechanism, the folk wisdom is that the foreign-based stars have grown fat and lazy, while those who are still playing at home retain the hunger the fans want to see in the national team.

The Brazilian press and public are always pushing for a call up for those who are in good form in domestic football.

Four years ago the movement worked in favour of the likes of Gilberto Silva and Kleberson, who came in from nowhere to claim a World Cup winners medal and then make their way on to Europe.

Inside the penalty area he can go on to be as good as Romario
Athirson on Fred
There are plenty of players who are hoping to use the 2005 Brazilian Championship as a stepping stone to a similar fate.

Classy Cruzeiro striker Fred is the latest candidate to be crowned the new prince of Brazilian football and this Wednesday he gets the chance to see if the shoe fits.

Brazil play a friendly against Guatemala in Sao Paulo, and since this is not a Fifa date for international matches, they are unable to bring back any of their European-based stars.

The entire squad has been chosen from Brazilian clubs, and Fred is among them.

His club mate Athirson is confident Fred will go to the ball. "Inside the penalty area he can go on to be as good as Romario," he says. "I've been very struck with the way he strikes the ball and his calm inside the area. I had only seen these characteristics in Romario."

On Wednesday it should be possible to make a direct comparison. Along with the group of young hopefuls pushing for a place in Brazil's future, the 39-year-old Romario is also in the squad.

The match is being held in order to celebrate the 40th birthday of Brazil's all-powerful TV Globo.

The story behind the match has a plotline as intricate as one of Globo's soap operas.

Argentina were invited, but refused. Uruguay were invited, dithered and refused. Ecuador were invited, accepted, but changed their minds the next day.

Guatemala was the best remaining option. But since this is an opponent of limited appeal, it was felt something was needed to add prestige to the occasion - hence the surprise decision to use the match as a tribute to Romario.

Brazil's management team seem somewhat embarrassed by the situation. There has been bad blood between Romario and assistant coach Mario Zagallo, who was in charge of the team at the 1998 World Cup.

Romario picked up an injury, and was axed from the squad on the eve of the competition. He thought he should have been given time to recover, and flew back to Brazil to plot his revenge; at the time he had a bar in Rio, and on the toilet door he placed a cartoon of Zagallo sitting on the loo.

Zagallo failed to see the funny side. He sued.

Now coach Parreira says Romario will play the first 20 minutes before being substituted. And thus the old is flushed away and the new - the likes of Fred - start their campaign for a place in Brazil's future.

E-mail services | Sport on mobiles/PDAs


Back to top

Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability sport | Olympics 2012 | Sport Relief | Other sport...

BBC Sport Academy >> | BBC News >> | BBC Weather >>
About the BBC | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy | Contact us
banner watch listen bbc sport