Sunday, 28 July 2013

Redemption song: Atlético Mineiro confound the doubters with historic Copa Libertadores triumph

They doubted Ronaldinho. They doubted him when he returned to Brazil to join Flamengo, and even more when he left them under a cloud. His decision to sign for Atlético Mineiro was, in the eyes of the cynics at least, based more on his penchant for partying than any enduring love of football; with its taste for cachaça, Belo Horizonte would provide ample opportunity for inebriation away from the media scrums of Rio and São Paulo.

They doubted Cuca, too. 13 years as a coach and only a couple of state championship medals to show for it. His teams had the unfortunate habit of imploding just when it mattered the most. Azarado, they called him. Cursed. Dedo podre. Everything he touched turned to powder. To make matters worse, he came straight from Cruzeiro, Atlético's biggest rivals. No pressure then.

Understandably, they doubted Jô. CSKA-Moscow Jô. £19million-transfer-to-Man-City Jô. Diminishing-returns-at-Everton-and-Galatasaray-and-Internacional Jô. Known-to-be-fond-of-a-night-out Jô. That Jô. Of course they doubted him.

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