Brazil struggles to find room for talented strikers

Brazil romped into the World Cup with an exhibition of art soccer that left coach Carlos Alberto Parreira with an unexpected problem.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:48 IST
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Rio De Janeiro:

Brazil romped into the World Cup with an exhibition of art soccer that left coach Carlos Alberto Parreira with an unexpected problem - where to put so much talent. Brazil's 5-0 rout of Chile on Sunday left the five-time Cup champions in second place in the South American qualifying group, one point behind Argentina, but mathematically assured of a berth in the 2006 Cup in Germany. Sunday's victory was textbook soccer, a touch of showtime, with a galaxy of rising stars and proven veterans that Parreira must mold into a balanced, cohesive unit. And he still must find a slot for suspended Barcelona striker Ronaldinho - FIFA's Player of the Year in 2004. "It's an excellent headache, one that any coach would want,'' Real Madrid striker Robinho said with a smile. Parreira's dilemma Robinho added to Parreira's dilemma on Sunday. Used as Ronaldinho's replacement, Robinho scored a goal, set up two by Adriano, defended and was the field commander worthy of his No. 10 jersey that Pele made famous. "The No. 10 has found its owner,'' the Rio sporting daily Lance said Monday. Parreira also may find it difficult to bench Adriano. The "emperor'' of Italy's Inter Milan scored three goals Sunday and was unanimously chosen as the game's outstanding player. Since Parreira took over the team in 2003, Adriano has led the team to titles in the Copa America and Confederations Cup. Under Parreira's command, he has scored 20 goals, six more than his closest rival. Offensive quartet Completing Brazil's offensive quartet, which Brazilians call the "magic square,'' are AC Milan playmaker Kaka and three-time FIFA Player of the Year Ronaldo from Real Madrid. Brazilians today wonder whether Parreira could expand the foursome to a "magic quintet,'' adding Ronaldinho to the squad. But the option may be too risky for Parreira, who worries that Brazil's defense could be exposed, especially with the growing concern over aging wingers Cafu and Roberto Carlos. In 1994, Parreira coached Brazil to its fourth World Cup title with a team that relied on defense and a reliable but unspectacular midfield, with the scoring chores left to strikers Romario and Bebeto. Parreira says Brazil hasn't reached its full potential, and expects the team to improve before next year's Cup. He has an exhibition match against Seville on Wednesday to tinker some more. (AP)