The Brazilian Championship reached its midway point in the season this week, with GrÃÂªmio clinching the symbolic 'winter' title.
But, as most of the coaches have said, the 'real' championship only begins after August 31, once the transfer window is shut. (If you think itÃ¢ÂÂs weird a tournament only starting in its last quarter, remember... this is Brazil.)
So weÃ¢ÂÂll get back to the domestic stuff at a later date.
For now, the hottest issue in Brazil is far away in Beijing. Winning an Olympic gold medal is a big thing for us Brazilians, since itÃ¢ÂÂs the only major title missing in our trophy cabinet. (Well, 'major' is a relative concept Ã¢ÂÂ the absence of the world-class stars and the joust between federations and clubs have taken most of the fun out of the thing). But look where weÃ¢ÂÂre standing now.
Ronaldinho double vs New Zealand eases Brazil through
Like in World Cup 2006, we've got a great group of players Ã¢ÂÂ even with the stars' absences Ã¢ÂÂ but no coach. Dunga has no idea how to build a team, how to position the players. For GodÃ¢ÂÂs sake, the guy canÃ¢ÂÂt even pick the shirt he wears. ItÃ¢ÂÂs despairing to wake up at 5am (thatÃ¢ÂÂs the time the Olympic matches are on in Brazil) to watch the team struggling to beat Belgium. 5am. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs the real chinese torture.
BrazilÃ¢ÂÂs hopes rest, once again, on the individuality of its players. WeÃ¢ÂÂve got them, make no mistake: Pato, Anderson, Lucas, Diego, Hernanes... and, of course, Ronaldinho Ã¢ÂÂ generously released by Milan, who chose to send him to China instead of shipping him to a spa. But DungaÃ¢ÂÂs letargy seems to have contaminated most of them. They need a wake-up call.
So it's great that BrazilÃ¢ÂÂs adversary on Saturday in the quarter-finals is Cameroon Ã¢ÂÂ the country who kicked the SeleÃÂ§ÃÂ£o out of the Sydney 2000 tournament.
Cameroon and 79-year-old? Roger Milla dumped out at USA '94
It happened once, it can happen again. And thereÃ¢ÂÂs more at stake for the youngsters: some of those who experienced the shameful 2-1 golden goal defeat to nine-man Cameroon were never given another decent chance in the national team. Great players like Alex, Geovanni and FÃÂ¡bio AurÃÂ©lio became marked men by that defeat. Ronaldinho was there too but helping win the 2002 World Cup separated him from that bunch.
And what about the coach? Dunga said he doesnÃ¢ÂÂt remember the 2000 defeat as much he remembers the 1994 World Cup 3-0 win against Cameroon. Yes, talk about enlightenment. LetÃ¢ÂÂs recall a triumph against an ageing squad Ã¢ÂÂ Roger Milla was, what, 79 years-old? Ã¢ÂÂ who conceded 11 goals in three matches, instead of telling the samba boys the perils of CameroonÃ¢ÂÂs young lions, who already bit us once not so long ago.
Speaking of great leaders, letÃ¢ÂÂs quote Julius Caesar... Alea jacta est.
The die is cast...