Tuesday 27 September 2016

Like a pneumatic drill through butter: Five great Ronaldo goals you've probably never seen before

Ronaldo – the original Ronaldo – turned 40 last week, prompting a fresh wave of appreciation for one of the icons of the modern game.

Ronaldo was also the master of reinvention, battling past a string of serious knee injuries that forced him to continuously adapt to diminishing physical capabilities, yet always remaining vital – both to his clubs and country.

We all know some of Ronaldo's great goals by heart. But there are plenty of lesser-known gems in the back catalogue.

Here are five – plus the stories behind them – I picked out for Unibet.

Thursday 22 September 2016

Flamengo may be homeless, but they can smell another Brazilian title with 'Ricardiola' at the helm

They haven't been able to play matches at the Maracanã all year, due to the Olympics and Paralympics. But that has not stopped Flamengo feeling right at home wherever they have travelled this term.

For with brilliant former youth team coach Zé Ricardo in the dugout, the Rubro-Negro have captured the hearts and minds of Fla fans throughout Brazil, many of whom have flocked to see them in 'home' games in São Paulo, Brasília and Natal.

Palmeiras continue to set the pace in Série A but there is a growing feeling that the Rio giants might just be able to overhaul them to secure an unexpected title. As their supporters would have it, the 'cheirinho de hepta' is in the air.

In my latest for WhoScored, I take a look at Flamengo's surge and Zé Ricardo's ability to squeeze performances out of previously unloved players.

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Golden prospects: Why Brazil's Olympic summer could prompt an upturn in fortunes for the Seleção

For some, the excitement that attended Brazil's success at the Olympic Games was just one more symbol of the decline of this once-great football nation. 

Questions abounded: Why were Brazil going wild about success in an under-23 tournament as if it was the moon landing? Had they forgotten what happened at the World Cup? They don't expect this to mask the corruption and incompetency of those who organise the domestic game, do they?

There was an element of straw-man assassination to these missives; few if any experts were making blanket proclamations about the overall health of the Brazilian game. The buzz about the success was for the most part more modest, more measured.

You can read my take on Brazil's victory at the 2016 Olympics in the latest edition of When Saturday Comes Magazine. It's available in newsagents, can be ordered here and read online (with a subscription) here

Oh and I didn't get paid extra for the Vine.