Brazil's dazzling 4-1 win over Chile was colored by spats and catcalls
The lecture took place in the open, out on the field. It happened last Saturday at Paris's Pare des Princes when Dunga, Brazil's hard-assed captain, raced over to Ronaldo and, waving his arms like an airport runway worker, showed the best soccer player on the planet where he should have stationed himself for the preceding free kick. No matter that the kick had just led to a Brazilian goal and that Ronaldo was busy celebrating his team's 2-0 lead over Chile. Dunga felt that Brazil was struggling, and afterward coach M�rio Zagallo agreed. "In the first half there was confusion, and we didn't play well," Zagallo said. "In the second half we finally settled things down."
Brazil won the second-round game 4-1 to set up a Friday quarterfinal against Denmark, though you wouldn't have known it from watching Dunga or by listening to the team's fickle supporters. As usual, they whistled derisively at Zagallo, but they also whistled at Taffarel, the goalkeeper, for shanking a goal kick out-of-bounds; at Bebeto, the striker, for letting a through-ball race past him; and even at Ronaldo, for overlobbing Bebeto on a crossing pass. "I'm 34 years old, and this is the first time I have ever been whistled at in my career with the national team," said Bebeto, a hero of the '94 World Cup. "Sometimes I don't understand our fans."
To the ordinary observer, watching Brazil was like walking wide-eyed through a carnival midway: flashing lights here, prizes on display there, cotton candy everywhere. Midfielder Cesar Sampaio scored the first two goals, but—look!—there was Ronaldo, finally living up to the expectations implied by the two 10-story billboards bearing his likeness outside the stadium. He scored only once in the three first-round games, but against Chile he made the wet Paris sod look like the Bonneville Salt Flats. Just before intermission Ronaldo streaked freely down the gut and earned a penalty that he converted with precision. In the second half, moments after Chile's Marcelo Salas made the score 3-1, he rocketed through the middle again and fired a worm burner past goalkeeper Nelson Tapia. Il Fenomeno, as the Italians call Ronaldo, was back. "He had a better match tonight," said Zagallo, "but he can still give a lot more."
Even with Ronaldo on form, the Brazilians' chances of winning their fifth championship depend on whether they can keep from grabbing at each other's throats. In recent weeks they have resembled the 78 Yankees, bursting with talent yet racked by squabbling. Dunga and Bebeto engaged in an ugly on-field shouting match during a first-round game against Morocco; after a 2-1 loss to Norway, Ronaldo and playmaker Rivaldo complained that Zagallo had asked them to play out of position—Ronaldo far back in midfield and Rivaldo away from his accustomed left side.
Nor did free-kick maestro Roberto Carlos help matters last week when he claimed that he, and not Ronaldo, was Brazil's true star. Last Thursday the team held a closed-door meeting, and tempers appeared to have cooled before the game with Chile. "Each of us may have a differing opinion, but there are no problems," Dunga said the next day. "It is very important that everyone is able to fully express himself to achieve a common objective."
Overcoming the Old Virtues
Not that anyone wondered, but now we know what Princeton's basketball players do in the summer. Last Saturday in Marseilles they put on white uniforms and took Norwegian names, played an old-fashioned, disciplined style that the rest of the world abandoned years ago and almost knocked Italy out of the NCAAs—uh, the World Cup.
" Norway is a very difficult team to beat," Italy coach Cesare Maldini said in a relieved, John Thompson sort of way. The Italians won the second-round match 1-0 on an 18th-minute breakaway by Christian Vieri, his tournament-leading fifth goal. But because Italy was hobbled defensively, Norway had chances to even the score on a couple of Princeton-like backdoor plays.
"We didn't play up to our limits," complained Norway coach Egil Olsen, who, at 56, is every bit as irascible as former Princeton coach Pete Carril. "I felt if we had done that, we would have beaten Italy. In fact, I was not impressed with Italy, either."