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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

World Cup Open Thread

REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker (GERMANY)

Brazil's goalkeeper Dida kicks the ball at a soccer
training session in Bergisch Gladbach during the
World Cup soccer tournament June 26, 2006 .

Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Jun 27 11:00 ET Brazil v Ghana
Match 55
Jun 27 15:00 ET Spain v France Match 56 Hanover

Brazil Slow to Unveil Famed 'Brilliant Art'

By Camille Powell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 27, 2006; Page E03

BERGISCH GLADBACH, Germany -- The view from Paffrather Strasse down into Belkaw Arena is not very good. A metal fence, a line of trees and a row of portable toilets stand between the street and the small stadium in this suburb of Cologne, but that does not deter the dozen or so fans trying to catch a glimpse of the Brazilian national team.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, the world's most entertaining and recognizable soccer players were doing nothing more than jogging -- some rather lazily -- around the field. But every time the group of forwards trotted down the sideline closest to the street, the squeals began: "Ronaldiiiiiiiinho!" "Roooooonaldo!" This continued for nearly 25 minutes: Ronaldinho and Ronaldo circled the field, the fans shrieked and occasionally one of the stars would briefly wave or smile.

Such is life for the defending World Cup champions. The players arrived at their training session in a bus with "Vehicle monitored by 180 million Brazilian hearts" splashed across the side, and on this day it appeared as if they were being monitored by 180 journalists, including several international television crews.

Brazil came to Germany as the heavy favorite to win its sixth title. A victory over Ghana in a second-round game Tuesday in Dortmund would be the Brazilians' 11th in a row and would extend their World Cup record for consecutive wins. In their first three games, they have given up just one goal and scored seven.

"These are numbers we are proud of," said Cafu, the team captain.

But until Brazil's third group-play win over overmatched Japan, the players weren't necessarily happy with their play. Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who guided Brazil to the 1994 title, has been criticized for being overcautious and predictable. Ronaldo appeared slow and unfit, and observers questioned why Parreira insisted on keeping him in the lineup. Even Ronaldinho, the world player of the year, seemed to struggle. Brazil was winning, but without its usual panache.

"People were disappointed, because this is not the Brazil we expected," said Valmir Jorge, who works for Radio Transamerica in Sao Paulo. "It was not compelling. The last game against Japan, we started to play like Brazil.

posted by Steve @ 12:28:00 PM

12:28:00 PM

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