Sunday, September 03, 2006


Brazilian Flipside

Following Melbourne Victory’s opening win over Adelaide United, I outlined some of the admirable aspects of the play of their Brazilian trio. Against Sydney FC last night, some of their less savoury qualities were on show.

No-one should be surprised; the Brazilian league, while still known for trickery and footballing imagination, is also one of the most violent and cynical in the world, with a fouls-per-game rate that would shock many of those who make a mantra of the jogo bonito.

What we saw at Telstra Dome was rather futebol de resultados writ large.

First, there was the matter of Alessandro, the lithe, tricky left-winger. Ernie Merrick had wisely allowed him to push further forward from the outset against Sydney, and he was influential in the early part of the game. But even the most Latinophile of observers would have to acknowledge that his falls were a little…erm…overstated.

Challenging for the ball with Clint Bolton on the edge of the area on 10 minutes, the Victory man ended up going through three revolutions on the turf, his face a study in contortion. A penalty was duly, and dubiously, given.

A couple of minutes later, a tackle from Mark Rudan sent Alessandro flying once again. The incensed Sydney captain foolishly kicked the prone Alessandro, to be rightly sent off, but the Brazilian's pained tumbling was, in truth, somewhat provocative.

It was a case of third time unlucky for Alessandro in the second half. Iain Fyfe had endured a torrid time in the opening forty-five minutes, finding Alessandro’s pace and tricks rather too much for him; in the second half, the Sydney right-back coped far better. On one occasion, Alessandro danced around the ball, feinted on both sides, then pushed on, only to be tackled cleanly by Fyfe.

Down he went again, clutching some muscle or other. Thankfully, no reaction from the referee this time.

Fred, not quite as influential as he was against Adelaide, was not to be outdone. On the hour, he aimed a sly elbow at Mark Milligan’s throat, and the Sydney FC youngster spent a few minutes on the turf in some distress. Mark Shield, the referee, did not see the foul.

Even Claudinho got in on the act, slyly impeding Milligan in the final minute of extra time, as the Sydney FC defender sought to restart the game quickly. An incident that rather escaped notice.

I repeat, Melbourne are to be commended for their adventurous recruitment policy this season. But Ernie Merrick needs to be careful that his team does not gain a reputation for gamesmanship thanks to the antics of his Brazilian recruits.

We wouldn’t want to shatter any illusions now, would we?

Ohh c'mon Mikey, the penalty was fairly clear-cut. I was at the game, I've seen it on way that penalty wasn't gonna be given with Bolton leading with the studs.

Fred...4 match suspension, and deserved. Claudinho- didn't see it, but not unlikely. Yes they bring the gamesmanship and I suppose thats up to us to try and rub out, but at times Alessandro was just breath-taking, the most eye-catching player the fledgling A-league has seen so far bar none. times Alessandro was just breath-taking, the most eye-catching player the fledgling A-league has seen so far bar none...

Not disagreeing that the guy is excellent entertainment value, but sometimes more spectacular than effective, from what I've seen.

Did you see Leo Bertos against the Mariners? A better all-round winger's performance than either of Alessandro's so far, IMO.
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