Ronaldinho sat down with Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl for a pre-World Cup interview, and although it's actually a pre-Champions League final interview, it makes for pretty good reading, including this exchange:
SI.com: I've read that you have a deep appreciation for the history of soccer, that you know the full lineups of Brazilian and European teams from back to the 1970s. What's the best Brazil World Cup team ever, in your mind?
Associated Press Ronaldinho: Everybody's favourite.
Ronaldinho: There are several. I think the 1982 team [a hugely entertaining Zico-led team that fell in the quarterfinals to Italy] was one of those that we had a great deal of hopes in. We thought they had a very beautiful style. They played the most attractive kind of soccer. And I think the 2006 team is comparable to the '82 team.
SI.com: Brazil is the runaway favorite to win its record sixth World Cup. Does this team have the chance of being the best Brazil team in history? Ronaldinho: I believe so, because we have been playing as a team for seven or eight years. We've basically had the same players since 1999, and we've had a great deal of contact. So there's a history there.
So much for the favourites. Tomorrow is departure day, Friday is opening night, but there's some news comes next week, Sham 69 -- geezer punks from way back -- threatening to release another England to win the Cup song on the world, and vowing to blow all the rest out of the soup. What's not normal is that last week, we finished up the previews for this week's supplement and, ignoring the sentiments expressed so well by Ronaldinho above -- never let the obvious get in the way of a prediction -- I picked England to win. I asked you lot to stop me, but you didn't, so there you are.
Time for the final of the eight groups in the daily guessing game: Group H. Gol TV has been on free preview on the box of late, which means the odd World Cup friendly, and listening to Ray Hudson, who makes Pierre McGuire sound like Peter Mansbridge. Hudson's hyperventilating over Spain's prospects during their rubbish performance against Russia in a recent friendly finally convinced me: Spain must go. They always do, so it's not like I'm going out on a limb at all here:
1 Ukraine. Face Spain right off, Shevchenko will fill the net, and Ukraine-heritage Neko Case will sing 'em on home -- and yeah, she can sing some.
2 Tunisia. This jazz standard is a personal fave.