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Sunday, 30 June, 2002, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Brazil can surely get better
Cafu holds up a Brazil shirt as the confetti falls
Cafu holds up a Brazil shirt as the confetti falls
BBC Sport Online's Tim Vickery

After Turkey had been beaten in the semi-final, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was sufficiently relaxed to let his guard down.

For the first time, he went into detail on the reasons behind the exclusion of the star striker who is the darling of the Brazilian media.

"Romario no longer has the physical condition to carry out the role that Ronaldo is playing," he said.

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It was a goal that vindicated Scolari, crowned Ronaldo's comeback and put Brazil on the path to their fifth world title
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"He can't work back and harry the opposing centre backs. Time and the results have shown that I was right."

And then Brazil's first goal in the final on Sunday rammed home the point.

Ronaldo lost the ball as he tried to cut in from the left and break through the German line. But losing posession did not bring Brazil's attacking possibilities to an end.

Ronaldo had the power to tackle back and win the ball against Liverpool strong-man Dieter Hamann. The ball ran away to the feet of Rivaldo, and as he was preparing to shoot Ronaldo was already on his feet and bursting into position to slide home the rebound.

It was a goal that vindicated Scolari, crowned Ronaldo's comeback and put Brazil on the path to their fifth world title.

The last time the men in yellow won the World Cup with a 100% record, the England manager was none too impressed.

"We have nothing to learn from the Brazilians," was Sir Alf Ramsey's response to Mexico 1970.

Ronaldo and Rivaldo celebrate a striking success
Ronaldo and Rivaldo celebrate a striking success

At that time the population of Brazil was around 90 million. It has since almost doubled.

Perhaps the main lesson the class of 2002 can teach is that, if you want to win World Cups, it is advisable to be a nation of more than 170 million where football is the only mass sport.

It certainly increases the chances of unearthing someone like Ronaldo, whose return has transformed the Brazil team from water to wine.

There is a terrifying aspect to Brazil's third consecutive World Cup final appearance: they still have enormous room for improvement.

Domestic Brazilian football is operating way below its potential. Chaos and corruption are rife. Terrace culture is horribly stagnant. Attendances are often low, and stadia and facilities are outdated.

There is much that Brazilian football can learn from the rest of the world, but its glorious tradition is based on overcoming problems with improvised solutions.

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This was probably the biggest, strongest, fittest team to have represented Brazil in a World Cup
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And, in one way, they have been able to reap benefit from the things which hold them back.

There is universal agreement that Brazilian football needs to sort out its calendar. At present there are a plethora of competitions and hundreds of games to be played.

A few years ago, Juninho played two games on the same night for Sao Paulo. It is not unheard of for teams to play four games in a week.

In order to deal with the insane workload, physical preparation in Brazil has been raised to an art form.

So many of the 2002 favourites crashed out complaining of tiredness at the end of a long season. Brazil made no such complaints.

Rather than lose players, they gained Ronaldo, who got through seven games in magnificent style after all his injury problems.

This was probably the biggest, strongest, fittest team to have represented Brazil in a World Cup. And, when strength and lung- power are added to the odd flash of genius, the World Cup ends up in worthy hands.


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