Who do you choose between Kaka and Ronaldinho? Well, Luiz Felip Scolari has to make that very decision before the World Cup, which starts in less than 10 months
When Brazil was chosen to host the FIFA World Cup both Kaka & Ronaldinho could have been forgiven for thinking about how it was their chance to etch their name in history by leading the Selecao to victory. But with less than a year remaining for the showpiece event to begin, both of them find themselves out of favour with national team boss Luiz Felipe Scolari.
The recently concluded Confederations Cup would have been the perfect opportunity for Kaka & Ronaldinho to show Scolari that they can still contribute to the national team. But ‘Big Phil’- as Socari is fondly called in Brazil, decided to leave both of them out and his decision was vindicated when Brazil went on to win the tournament by demolishing Spain 3-0 in the finals.
Despite missing out in the Confederations Cup both Kaka & Ronaldinho would have noticed how restless the crowd got when Brazil played poorly in the tournament. This restlessness transmitted to the players as well and Scolari knows that come the world cup the expectations of the fans will be higher still and he will need experience to soothe the nerves in his young squad.
Both these Brazilian superstars are vying for the same spot and it makes sense to analyze their individual claim for a place in the national team.
Case for Ronaldinho
When Ronaldinho moved back to Brazil in 2011 it seemed that there was little chance that this buck toothed star would get selected for the Selecao again. He signed for Flamengo and despite starting brightly his relationship with the board quickly turned sour and stories emerged that the club was struggling to pay his wages. Flamengo also accused Ronaldinho of bringing female friends to the training camps and turning up drunk for training. Therefore, there were many who ridiculed Alexandre Kalil’s (the Atletico Mineiro president) decision to sign the former Barca star when he decided to end his relationship with Flamengo.
But this was a match made in heaven as Atletico provided Ronaldinho with the love that he so needs and claims had not been provided to him, since his heyday in Catalunia. Atletico had not won a major championship in over 4 decades and they were in need of a hero and it can be safely assumed that Ronaldinho has filled that void. He carried Atletico to the brink of the Campeonato Brasileiro title in 2012 but it was last season when he really came to the party. Atletico were rank outsiders to win the Copa Libertadores but Ronaldinho inspired them to glory. He frequently shifted from a central attacking role to his preferred left wing and laid out pass after pass for the likes of Bernard and Jo to exploit.
Despite his excellent form for Atletico his forays for the Selecao have been underwhelming. Ronaldinho has not proved whether he can still cut it at the international level where the game is more physical and faster as compared to the Brazilian championships. However, he must be given a chance in the few friendlies that Brazil have lined up ahead to prove his credentials.
While he does not have the acceleration he once possessed but Ronaldinho is craftier than before and can pick a pass through the eye of a needle. The feints & the shimmies still remain in the locker and he has the backing of the Brazilian public. Scolari also knows that Brazilian football is steeped in the tradition of the brilliant individual and Ronaldinho fits the bill. But will Big Phil give him a chance?
What about Kaka?
When Kaka signed for Real Madrid in 2009, for a then world record 56 million pounds he had the world at his feet. Fast forward 4 years & his stay in Madrid can be classified as an unqualified disaster. For the Los Blancos, Kaka’s cost per goal was 2 million pounds and his cost per game was half a million pounds. He started only 11 games in the La Liga last season and it is no wonder that Scolari keeps on overlooking him for the Selecao.
The one thing in Kaka’s favour is that all the players in the Brazilian team respect him and listen to his advice. Mario Menezes, the previous coach of Brazil, observed that the young players in the team looked up to Kaka and thought of him as their leader on the pitch. Scolari would also realize that in the event that he chooses one of Ronaldinho or Kaka in the squad then the latter would be more agreeable to sit on the bench.
Now that Kaka has gone back to AC Milan, he would want more minutes on the pitch to show Big Phil that even if has lost half a yard of pace he still has the intelligence and technical ability to make a difference to the Selecao. It also remains to be seen whether he will play as a traditional No. 10, a role he performed with excellence in his previous stint with the Rossoneri or in a more withdrawn role as a playmaker.
Kaka also offers a more physical presence in the middle of the park as compared to Ronaldinho but the former Real midfielder has not managed to stay fit for the best part of 5 years now. He has constantly been blighted by back problems and staying fit during the world cup when matches come around every four days would be a big challenge.
Scolari is not scared to take big decisions prior to a major tournament as he proved when deciding in favour of Ronaldo (the original one) and overlooking Romario despite a huge public backing for the latter. He will not be sentimental when he finally decides the fate of Kaka & Ronaldinho but the romanticists will dream that both these legends get the chance to show the world that they can still play the Joga Bonito.