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Ronaldinho remains center of attention

The most dazzling player at this World Cup isn't even the most talked about member of his own team.Two-time FIFA player of the year Ronaldinho is still wildly popular with fans and even foes. Only the woes of fellow Brazilian star Ronaldo have spared him center stage during the tournament's first round.
Still, on a team of world-class players, the man who orchestrates Brazil's attack stands apart. Just how big is Ronaldinho?
Well, a scrum of about 50 international journalists jockeyed around him Friday after a news conference. They didn't want to ask questions - they wanted his autograph, a violation of FIFA rules.
After one of Brazil's warm-up matches last month, some players from Swiss club FC Lucerne sprinted toward the midfielder following the final whistle. They wanted his jersey.
Twice fans invaded the team's training sessions to get near the midfielder. A Brazilian woman received a hug and a German boy escaped with an autograph.
"We understand that people want to get close and have contact with us," the soft-spoken Ronaldinho said recently. "All we can do is try to give back by playing well."
The man who led FC Barcelona to the Spanish league and European club championships got off to a slow World Cup start in Germany, his second World Cup. His performance was subdued in Brazil's 1-0 win over Croatia on Tuesday. Only a few of his usual jaw-dropping moves worked and he described the outing as "neither good nor bad."
That's not what the world has come to expect from a 26 year old who has won the last two FIFA player of the year awards and even earned praises from soccer greats such as Diego Maradona and Pele.
Ronaldinho is central to Brazil's "magic quartet" scheme. He's responsible for controlling the game and setting up strikers Ronaldo and Adriano.
"We need Ronaldinho to have liberty to do what he does best, which is create scoring opportunities," Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said.
In 2002 at Japan and South Korea, Ronaldinho played five matches and scored two goals as Brazil captured its fifth World Cup title. He has 29 goals in 67 matches for Brazil and led the squad to titles in the 1999 Copa America, the 2000 pre-Olympic tournament and last year's Confederations Cup in Germany.
He said he's confident of finding top form in Brazil's match Sunday against Australia in Munich.
"We have put the anxiety of the opener behind us, now we should be able to improve for the rest of the competition," he said. In the run up to Brazil's World Cup campaign Ronaldinho was attracting all the attention.
Then Ronaldo began having his troubles, including a series of minor health problems and a weight controversy that involved even the Brazilian president.
Ronaldo arrived for Brazil's training camp three weeks ago admittedly overweight. He then had to cope with foot blisters, a mild respiratory infection and a dizzy spell that landed him in the hospital for precautionary tests. He was substituted against Croatia in the 69th minute and pilloried in the Brazilian press for a sluggish performance.
Ronaldinho said he's not bothered by having to share the headlines.
"That's not what we care about here," he said. "I just need to keep doing my job." Ronaldinho also played down Ronaldo's problems.
"Personally, I'm happy that this is all happening now," Ronaldinho said. "It's going to motivate him."


Updated : 2021-10-24 06:03 GMT+08:00