Ronaldinho exploits overshadowing Cup draw in Rio
He may be a blast from the past as far as the World Cup is concerned, but Ronaldinho is bagging most of the limelight in Rio, even as the city prepares to host Saturday's draw for the 2014 tournament.
With Brazil themselves already qualified for the 2014 World Cup as hosts, fans are not too fazed about the draw, knowing that in any case the South American countries will all face each other as always.
Instead, they were still gorging themselves on Wednesday's thrilling league encounter between 2002 world champion Ronaldinho's Flamengo and Santos, the club of young starlet Neymar.
Inspired by a hat-trick from the 31-year-old Ronaldinho, Flamengo recovered from three goals down to win a breathtaking contest 5-4 leaving Neymar on the losing side despite a brace of his own.
The match was still the talk of Brazilian fans Friday with 'R10' - Ronaldinho - the subject of countless newspaper headlines and television debates.
His goal for 4-4 was a daisycutting freekick under a jumping wall of defenders - a repeat of a trick he pulled off starring at his peak for Barcelona against Werder Bremen in the 2006 Champions League.
"This Ronaldinho is an ace," papers agreed as they eulogised the veteran, twice a world footballer of the year.
He signed for Flamengo after a three-year spell with AC Milan earlier this year with an eye-popping salary of 700,000 dollars a month.
"Little by little I am showing my importance to Flamengo. Today we are top of the table with just one loss all season," said the forward as he looked back on his hattrick at the Vila Belmiro de Santos stadium.
"Magic, pure magic," enthused daily O Globo, which published a lengthy analysis of the "electrifying spectacle" which brought much of the country to a virtual standstill as millions of fans watched spellbound.
Columnist Renato Mauricio Prado said it was wonderful to be able to watch a match "which became a true time tunnel. In 90 minutes you could see the Neymar we have all been waiting for and also the Ronaldinho who was justifiably twice voted world player of the year."
Although the season has a long way to go, Flamengo were received on their return to Rio by hundreds of ecstatic fans to be greeted by a huge headline in sports daily Lance: "The arrival of the champions."
Meanwhile, there were few signs of fan interest in the World Cup draw which takes place Saturday at the swish Marina de Gloria, just a stone's throw from the Copacabana Beach.
"I don't know a thing about it," admitted Carlos, a 50-year-old resident of the swish nearby neighbourhood of Ipanema.
And 35-year-old private security guard Jaime was also none the wiser.
"There's a draw? I guess the traffic that day will be horrible."
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