Mistakes have no part in Lucio's lexicon

JOHANNESBURG - Brazil's towering central defender and captain Lucio has little appreciation for the talents of forwards and midfielders, believing that all goals are born from mistakes.

Set to make his 15th World Cup appearance for Brazil in Friday's match with Portugal, Lucio, 32, said it was Brazil's fault they had conceded two goals in South Africa on their way to beating North Korea 2-1 and Ivory Coast 3-1.

"If they scored goals, it was because there were mistakes," Lucio told reporters on Wednesday, without even contemplating the idea that the goals could have been conceded through the merit of Brazil's opponents.

Such a remark is perhaps not surprising from a man who is regarded as one of the world's top defenders and would not have got where he is today without a large dose of single-mindedness.

Lucio, who this season helped Inter Milan win a Champions League, Serie A and Italian Cup treble, is playing in his third World Cup, having already won a winners' medal with Luiz Felipe Scolari's team in 2002 where he was ever-present.

His career could have turned out very differently after he gifted Michael Owen a goal in the quarter-final against England but Brazil bounced back to win 2-1 and Scolari stood by him, saying it was the only error he had made in the tournament.

QUICKLY MATURED

He was also forgiven for an incident at the 2000 Olympic Games, where he head-butted a team mate during a quarter-final defeat to Cameroon in a fit of rage.

But he quickly matured and managed to get through 386 minutes at the last World Cup without committing a foul - an astonishing record for a player in his position.

He said that avoiding fouls was an important part of his game, though not because of any high-principled sportsmanship.

"It's something we have been training on, trying not to foul during the game," said the former Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich player.

"It's better to commit fouls far from the goal."

Brazil have won 18 of their last 20 games, something which Lucio attributed to "that little extra something".

"Our team has great resistance," he said.

"I believe that in addition to our ability and our talent, we have a little extra something which each player looks to give on the pitch - things like fighting to regain possession when a team mate has lost the ball.

"This determination, this power of recovery, is very important and helps us get through the difficult moments."

One of several evangelical Christians in the Brazil squad, Lucio said that religion did not interfere with the team and had no complaints about FIFA's ban on players displaying tee-shirts with religious propaganda in goal celebrations.

"We meet at the convenient moments but the focus is on the training and the matches, this is the objective for us," he said.

"We have to respect the FIFA ban. FIFA has the authority and its rules, we just have to accept their orders."

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