World champion Brazil has never
been short on goalscoring prowess. Perhaps it's time for another change
at the tip of its attack.
Ronaldo, rested for two World Cup qualifiers
and the Confederations Cup, faces stiff competition for the No. 9 jersey
when he returns to the national team in a friendly against Croatia on
Inter Milan scoring machine Adriano and Real Madrid's exciting new
signing, Robinho, helped Brazil win the Confederations Cup in Ronaldo's
absence two months ago.
That prompted notions that the once untouchable star could be in danger
of losing his position to a new generation.
The former FIFA player of the year recently said he had recovered from a
bout of fatigue and had no intention of relinquishing his mantle up
The match against Croatia could be an ideal occasion to demonstrate to
the critics and coach Carlos Alberto Parriera that he is still the top
dog in the canary yellow outfit.
Croatia will be looking to maintain momentum as the European
qualifications for the 2006 World Cup head into the closing stages.
The Croats are undefeated in Group 8 and lead with 16 points, one ahead
of Sweden and six ahead of Hungary. Bulgaria is third on 8 points.
Iceland and Malta have one point each.
Brazil hopes to guarantee its berth in next year's World Cup in Germany
with a victory over Chile in South American qualifications on Sept. 4.
Parriera announced that he would field two strikers against Croatia and
experiment in the absence of Ronaldinho and Roque Junior, who were left
out of the Brazil squad because they are suspended from the upcoming
match against Chile.
The Brazilian press speculated that that
meant a three-pronged offense, combining Adriano and Robinho with
Parriera also called up new players, Ricardinho of Santos, defender Alex
of PSV Eindhoven and goalie Julio Cesar of Inter Milan.
Eduardo da Silva, a naturalized Croat, will try to overcome split
loyalties against the country of his birth.
The 22-year-old striker has been making a name for himself with Croatian
league leader, Dinamo Zagreb, and is expected to get a run against his
Croatia coach Zlatko Kranjcar has also been trying to coax another South
American into his line-up. Argentine-born Danel Bilos, who plays for
Boca Juniors, will miss the match against Brazil, but was reportedly
still considering which country to play for.
Glasgow Rangers striker Dado Prso opted to appease club officials who
wanted him to miss the friendly against Brazil due to concerns that he
might aggravate a knee injury and jeopardize his league season.
Kranjcar was riled by the decision.
"It's hard not to feel emotionally affected when someone chooses club
over country," he said.