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Who's the man?

Rivaldo stealing some of Ronaldo's thunder

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Posted: Saturday July 04, 1998 11:23 AM

  Riv-eting: Rivaldo scored two of his three World Cup goals in Friday's quarterfinal win over Denmark (AP)

NANTES, France (Reuters) -- Ronaldo was billed as the top-attraction when Brazil arrived in France to defend the World Cup but the goofy-grinned striker is now finding himself upstaged by Rivaldo.

The original script had Rivaldo providing the passes for Ronaldo to score the goals which would confirm him as the world's best player.

However, in Friday's 3-2 quarterfinal win over Denmark the roles were reversed with Ronaldo acting as provider and Rivaldo putting the ball in the net.

Rivaldo stole Ronaldo's thunder by scoring two of Brazil's goals, his second half winner a superb effort which had shades of Rivelino. Ronaldo set up two of Brazil's three goals.

The two are now level on three goals each.

Rivaldo has shouldered part of the blame for the fact that Ronaldo has not quite lived up to expectations and there have even been reports of jealously between the two -- something denied by both players.

"My relationship with Ronaldo is the best possible," said Rivaldo. "There are no problems," he emphasized. "I have an excellent relationship with other members of the team including Ronaldo and [team captain] Dunga." Ronaldo set up Bebeto's equalizer by threading the ball through the Danish defense in the 10th minute and it was from another cunning ball that Rivaldo put Brazil 2-1 ahead midway through the second half. After Denmark had equalized at the start of the second half, Rivaldo then settled the match, picking up the ball in the Danish half, advancing on the Danish penalty area and then beating Peter Schmeichel with a low drive from 25 meters.

"The second goal was a great pass by Ronaldo," Rivaldo recognized.

Ronaldo, asked about his unexpected role as provider instead of goalscorer, replied: "It's part of the game. I saw Bebeto and Rivaldo making good runs and I was fortunate enough to get the pass right and set up the goals."

Rivaldo had come into the competition under something of a cloud, having been stuck with a reputation for failing to perform wearing the famous gold shirt of the four-times world champions.

He had been labeled as greedy in some quarters -- a tag he rejected the day before the game -- and was out in the cold for a year after being made the scapegoat for Brazil's failure to win the gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.

Excellent performances for Barcelona in the Spanish championship, plus a rather fruitless search by coach Mario Zagallo for a midfield playmaker, led to another chance in mid 1997, after he had been overlooked for the Copa America.

Wearing the number 10 shirt, once worn by Pele, adds to the pressure.

But Rivaldo has shrugged off the problems, showing a strength of character that some doubted he possessed.


Related information
Viewpoint from CNN/SI's Terry Baddoo: Ronaldo having subpar World Cup
CNN/SI Team Pages: Brazil
1998 World Cup Schedule
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