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World Cup 2006 profile
For Brazil, anything less than title is a disappointment
Posted: Monday March 20, 2006 11:30AM; Updated: Monday March 20, 2006 6:14PM

How sickly talented is Brazil? The man Pelé tabbed as his possible successor, Robinho (above), isn't even in the starting lineup.
Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images
RELATED
• World Cup team profiles complete archive
• Full '06 World Cup draw and schedule



By Ricardo Setyon, SI.com

Through late April, SI.com will profile two World Cup teams a week. We continue with Brazil. Click here for the full archive.

FIFA world ranking: No. 1.

How they qualified for Germany: Finished first in CONMEBOL qualifying with a 9-7-2 record, the same point total as Argentina but a superior goal differential.

Previous World Cups and finishes: The only nation to appear at all 18 tournaments since 1930. Champions in 1958, '62, '70, '94, 2002. Runner-up in '50, '98; third place in '38, '78; fourth place in '74.

Manager: Carlos Alberto Parreira, fourth year with squad.

Key players
Brazil wouldn't be defending world champion without its hero of the 2002 Cup. Ronaldo is back for this go-around, but he'll be nearly 30 when the Brazilians kick off in Germany, and he's definitely lost a step. His place in the starting lineup is safe -- for now. Hot on his heels is 22-year-old Robinho, who is ready to blossom into the next ambassador of the trademark Brazilian brand of soccer that combines extreme skill with flamboyant style. Pelé himself declared that if someone can ever get close to what he was, that player is the so-called "prince of dribbling." Robinho is still maturing, which is frightening considering that he's growing up under the ridiculous microscope that is Real Madrid.

Of Brazil's young players, Ronaldinho is definitely the most experienced. The 26-year-old Barcelona star has reached the pinnacle of world soccer, having won back-to-back FIFA World Player of the Year awards. He has accomplished all this with a smile on his face, unlimited talent at his feet and a giant amount of motivation to write his name in World Cup history. In fact, the leader of the Seleção will wear the No. 10 jersey in Germany, an honor that belonged to Pelé and was last worn by Rivaldo. The difference, explains Ronaldinho, is that those Brazilian legends "had to open the way to the goal by themselves -- they were the lifesavers of the team. Now, with Kaká, Adriano and others by my side, the work becomes easier."

Adriano in particular will make Ronaldinho's job loads easier. Amazingly, this will be the first World Cup for "the Emperor." The 24-year-old Inter Milan striker is big -- 6-foot-2, 190 pounds. He'll be expected to add muscle up front and make up for what Ronaldo now lacks: speed, power, long-distance accuracy and leaping ability to head down crosses and corners. He's often called the best striker in the world, but he still has plenty to prove on the world's biggest stage.

What to watch for
With such high expectations, it's never easy to be Brazil -- but it's definitely worse when the Brazilians are considered heavy favorites. Every time the Seleção have been tabbed to win the World Cup, they've failed to display any kind of calm or peace of mind. Ronaldo's illness was a distraction in France '98. When Brazil fielded perhaps its most talented squad ever in Spain in '82, it suffered a disastrous defeat to Italy in the quarterfinals. This year, Brazil is again heavily favored, and this current squad is wildly talented. How it deals with the pressure is a big question mark.

All that talent is another big issue facing head coach Parreira and assistant (and former boss) Mário Zagallo: Which attacker will they bench, Adriano, Ronaldinho, Kaká, Robinho or Ronaldo? The current system allows for only four places, which means one of the stars will have to come off the bench. Age is another worrying factor on this team: Not only is Ronaldo getting on in years, but defensive stalwart Roberto Carlos will be 33, while captain Cafu will be 36.

At the same time, Brazil has never had such a lineup of stars, from the famous coaching staff all the way down to the laundry list of international celebrities. For better or for worse, this World Cup is Brazil's to lose.

Group: F (Japan, Croatia, Australia).

Key match in group stage: June 13 vs. Croatia. Brazil's first game against perhaps its toughest opponent will say a lot about its emotional response to the pressure. Parreira is preparing all his weapons to focus first and foremost on this match -- he knows that a draw or a loss will create severe turmoil in the Brazilian camp. A win will assure a more relaxed atmosphere against Australia and Japan.

Oddsmakers' line: 11-4.

Projected Starting Lineup
Pos. Player Club team
G Dida AC Milan (Italy)
D Cafu AC Milan (Italy)
D Lúcio Bayern Munich (Germany)
D Roque Júnior Bayern Leverkusen (Germany)
D Roberto Carlos Real Madrid (Spain)
M Emerson Juventus (Italy)
M Zé Roberto Bayern Munich (Germany)
M Kaká AC Milan (Italy)
F Ronaldinho FC Barcelona (Spain)
F Ronaldo Real Madrid (Spain)
F Adriano Inter Milan (Italy)
 

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They are just saying how much they like Roque Jr. Testa voted for him as the best defender in Palmeiras story and Jorge Ben just wants him for Botafogo (but then, it may even improve, considering you have scheidt)
 

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I am more worried about Ricardinho passe-de-ladinho always being the first option on the bench in Parreira's mind. If we are losing and the best thing he offers are his "killer" 1m side passes...

JCamilo said:
They are just saying how much they like Roque Jr. Testa voted for him as the best defender in Palmeiras story and Jorge Ben just wants him for Botafogo (but then, it may even improve, considering you have scheidt)
hehe. :tongue:
 

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and it is not like Juan - who once played with Gamarra - is any reliable either.
 

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ricardinho, paulo sérgio.. we always seem to have an outsider in the squad.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
If you don't like Roque junior then come up with someone that can take his place on the team!!
 

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fawkin legend
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fellini said:
If you don't like Roque junior then come up with someone that can take his place on the team!!
Come on even that awful Cris (who is one of the best defenders of this seasons Champions League :dazed: ) is better than Roque Junior.
 

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Haven´t seen much of Roque at the latest
but I may be inclined to agree
that Cris at the moment may be is ahead or at least competeable.
But as U said before,
when bashing Roque
one must think of that he
was one of the best defenders,if not the best,
along with Lucio and Gilberto Silva,
in the defence that was a great factor,
maybe too little tributed,
in enabling Brazil to win the WC in 2002.
An experience not to be taken too lightly
nor too highly.
 

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Macumba said:
In his finest moments, the best Cris can hope for is to not embarass himself.

Roque's finest moments, on the other hand, were as one of the best players in the CL final that he won with Milan, and as a reliable starter in a WC-winning Brazilian NT. Let's face it, Cris DREAMS of being Roque Junior when he grows up. ;)
 

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fawkin legend
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I don't rate Cris at all but he improved playing for Lyon. Yes he is having a good season and didn't embarass himself unlike Roque Junior (injured currently) did in Leverkusen week by week. Only Athirson (who walked straight to bench as expected) made Roque Junior look good. And we all know Roque Junior failed in Serie A though winning a CL so there is no point and there is no excuse he is the worst option. But lets take it positive: If Brazil can win a World Cup with Roque Junior, Brazil can win a World Cup with any defender :star:
 
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