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Black magic in net
Brazil's goalkeepers stare down a historical crisis
Posted: Tuesday February 28, 2006 1:45PM; Updated: Tuesday February 28, 2006 2:45PM
Poor Valdir Peres. Poor Leão. Poor Ado, poor Félix, poor Carlos. Poor Joel, poor Germano. Poor, really poor, Moacir Barbosa.

Here in Brazil, there is great pain and sorrow associated with the most dramatic position in soccer. In Pelé's land, Ronaldinho's country, Zico's birthplace and where Ronaldo and Kaká have displayed their magic, once again a curse seems to darken the skies.

OK, not exactly. No need to get that dramatic. Let's just say a very black cloud floats above the box where Brazil's goalkeepers ply their trade.

On one side of the pitch, geniuses make crowds dream with their moves, while at the other end, Brazilian keepers are groggy from losing sleep because of the nightmares. After all, being a goalkeeper in Brazil was never, well, fashionable.

Even today, no player wants to play the position -- we even avoid saying the name.

Why? Picture those sandy fields where you imagine boys playing barefoot, everyone doing "Brazilian" things with the ball. Those uneven pieces of land where stones, electric posts and other obstacles challenge talented young boys to do things that will amaze the world. There, the keeper is always the worst player. You can't show off when you're in goal.

Robinho makes 65 mistakes per game, but he needs to make only one brilliant move to make the crowd swoon. Adriano just needs to lift off the ground and score a game-winner after a lousy match and everything is OK.

Now consider the reverse. Put '94 world champion Taffarel in goal. Put AC Milan's Dida, put the amazing goal-scoring Rogério Ceni in net, all creating miracles over the course of a match. But God forbid, they make a mistake and give up a goal, that's it -- they are destroyed and questioned.

An experienced Brazilian coach once said, "The goalkeeper position is so bad, so bitter, that the grass does not even grow strong at the place where he steps."

Whenever Brazil has failed to win the World Cup, the keeper is often blamed, despite his brilliant play. Take Barbosa: a wonderful person and an amazing goalkeeper, who often challenged the best players on penalty kicks, sometimes playing without gloves because he said he needed to "feel the ball."

Even after a great World Cup in 1950, Barbosa gave up a goal to Uruguay that ended up deciding the championship in front of 200,000 fans at Rio de Janeiro's Maracanã. The media blamed Barbosa, and he was forever remembered as the man responsible for "the worst loss Brazil's history."
Barbosa, bitter as it could be, lived the rest of his life saying one of the most dramatic phrases: "People in Brazil kill, rob and rape. But no criminal in this country had a punishment as long as I had. Without a trial. I was condemned for life -- for a goal."

Need more proof of the Curse of Brazilian 'Keeper? Take Peres, a substitute in the '78 World Cup and the starting goalie in '82. He defended the net for one of the most marvelous squads in history that boasted Cerezo, Zico, Sócrates, Falcão and Junior. But Brazil, being the top team and everyone's favorite, lost in the final. Peres gave up three goals to Italy's Paolo Rossi and Brazil was eliminated. Peres was never forgiven.
The ironic thing is that Brazil has always had fantastic goalkeepers spread all over the world. It's true today. Dida is in Milan, Júlio César is at Inter Milan. Doni is with AS Roma and Gomes stands at PSV Eindhoven. Back home, add the talented Marcos of Palmeiras and São Paulo's Ceni -- the best scoring keeper in the world, recently voted best player of the FIFA Club World Championship.

For three years, Brazil's No. 1, Dida, has been a super goalkeeper. Recently, however, his form has slipped for a reason or another, and the "Black Panther" has also been plagued by injuries. He's currently suffering from a mysterious ankle sprain.

"He'd better get better soon, improve his goalkeeping," says his club coach, Milan's Carlo Ancelotti. "Because if not, we'll have to make changes."

Brazilian national team head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has similar worries. Leading up to a World Cup, the manager is especially tense by what his No. 1 keeper is displaying. And there's little hope from the backups. Marcos is also injured, and Júlio César isn't 100 percent either. All three will be unavailable when Brazil takes on Russia in a friendly on Wednesday, but Parreira can still count his warehouse of goalkeepers.

Ceni will start against the Russians, and many believe he should be the No. 1 netminder at the World Cup. His skills between the posts are solid, but the 33-year-old veteran's leadership is unparalleled. Let's not forget his astonishing ability to score goals off penalties and free kicks. We're talking about a goalkeeper who has scored more than 50 times, often twice per match -- a guy who has consistently produced at least 10 goals per season.

Behind Ceni, Brazil has its best young goalie, Gomes, waiting in the wings. And we still haven't talked about Fábio Costa of Santos or the talented Renan, star of Internacional and Brazil's under-20 team.

Brazilians tend to lose sight of the fact that if it weren't for heroic goalkeepers, Brazil wouldn't be the only country in the world with five World Cup titles: Gilmar in '58 and '62, Félix in '70, Taffarel in '94, Marcos in '02.

A great team starts with a great keeper. Believe in the curse if you want. Brazil should be in good shape.
 

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Wow
Great article...but you can't deny it that Dida hasn't been playing well for more than months now...

Lets pray..
 

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BryanDouglas said:
Wow
Great article...but you can't deny it that Dida hasn't been playing well for more than months now...

Lets pray..
But for the article to say that he's been "plagued" by injuries is rather inaccurate. Last week marked the first time he'd missed a game due to injury in nearly two years. And I loved how they considered it a "mysterious" sprain; never mind that just about everyone else saw his ankle fold like an accordion against Bayern that night. :rolleyes:

BryanDouglas said:
Robinho makes 65 mistakes per game, but he needs to make only one brilliant move to make the crowd swoon. Adriano just needs to lift off the ground and score a game-winner after a lousy match and everything is OK.
True that. He forgot to put "overrated" before Robinho, though. :irritate:
 

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So we made the final in 1982 huh? I did not know that! :googly: :tongue: :howler:

And while I'm glad that they highlight the keepers that were important to our World Cup victories, they somehow managed to include Félix in the list!!! It's like they just read the line-ups and added each keeper instead of evaluating whether or not they were a key player. :rolleyes: :sigh: :undecide:
 

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Behind Ceni, Brazil has its best young goalie, Gomes, waiting in the wings. And we still haven't talked about Fábio Costa of Santos or the talented Renan, star of Internacional and Brazil's under-20 team.

No way Fábio Costa is good enough to play for Brazil. :thmbdown:

But I am glad he did not mention Doni (Roma). :D
 

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After seeing Rogerio's performance in Moscow, there is little doubt for me. He was the key in Sao Paulo success in Intercontinental Cup and given the chance, he showed his value in the NT as well. He is my number 1 at the moment. :thmbup:
 

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OAnimal said:
After seeing Rogerio's performance in Moscow, there is little doubt for me. He was the key in Sao Paulo success in Intercontinental Cup and given the chance, he showed his value in the NT as well. He is my number 1 at the moment. :thmbup:
true that, I think he should start for the WC unless he gets injured.
 
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