Early this year, Fluminense managed to sign three fantastic strikers for their return to the Copa Libertadores. Two of them, to the fans delight, were snapped up at the peak of their form from under the noses of their cross-town arch-rivals: Leandro Amaral from Vasco da Gama, and DodÃÂ´ from Botafogo.
Washington, who was starring for Urawa Red Diamonds in Japan, completed the trio Ã¢ÂÂ which was soon dubbed 'The three tenors'.
Coach Renato GaÃÂºcho was nervous about playing all three centre-forwards at once, especially after a bumpy start to the season, but Washington, DodÃÂ´ and LeandroÃ¢ÂÂs performances steadily improved and Fluminense topped their group in the TaÃÂ§a Guanabara.
Renato began hinting that he might use all three but then, in late February, came a blow to the fansÃ¢ÂÂ hopes of seeing their tenors in concert.
Leandro Amaral's contract with Vasco was due to run to December but he had forced his way out via the courts. On appeal, however, the ruling that allowed him to leave was reversed, preventing him from playing for Fluminense (the clubÃ¢ÂÂs lawyers are attempting to have the decision reviewed Ã¢ÂÂ again Ã¢ÂÂ but for now Leandro Amaral remains sidelined).
So three became two. Nevertheless, DodÃÂ´ and Washington put on a terrific show at the MaracanÃÂ£ stage last Wednesday, thrashing ArgentinaÃ¢ÂÂs Arsenal 6-0.
DodÃÂ´Ã¢ÂÂs second goal was terrific, similar to ZidaneÃ¢ÂÂs 2002 gem against Bayer Leverkusen. No wonder the BrazilianÃ¢ÂÂs nickname is Ã¢ÂÂThe striker of the beautiful goalsÃ¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂ OK, it's not exactly catchy, but at least it's precise. (Perhaps DodÃÂ´ had watched ZidaneÃ¢ÂÂs class on how to score a goal like that. Take a look, itÃ¢ÂÂs not that hard Ã¢ÂÂ you just have to be lucky, as Zidane tells us. Too bad the commentator wasnÃ¢ÂÂt very excited.)
And then, to paraphrase the Spice Girls, two became one.
Last Saturday, in a game against Friburguense, DodÃÂ´ suffered an innocuous-looking injury which turned out to be a serious fracture of the frontal bone of his forehead. He underwent surgery yesterday and will stay out of action for at least eight weeks ruling him out of the entire group stage of the Copa Libertadores, the clubÃ¢ÂÂs priority this season.
So what now? Despite a supporting cast full of quality Ã¢ÂÂ midfielder Thiago Neves and defender Thiago Silva are Europe-bound Ã¢ÂÂ Washington will have to go solo in the first part of FluminenseÃ¢ÂÂs South American tour.
Coach Renato GaÃÂºcho hopes heÃ¢ÂÂs up to the challenge Ã¢ÂÂ and that the three tenors can be reunited in the competitionÃ¢ÂÂs later stages. Bravo!