Heading toward the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, there remains the romantic Brazilian football fan who believes history from 12 years ago, the Selecao's fifth and last triumph, will repeat itself.
With Luiz Felipe Scolari at the helm once more and a certain swaggering No. 10 back in irresistible club form, the romantic hopes that Brazil will claim a sixth world crown next summer, led by the two old favourites.
However, the pragmatic Scolari has never been one for romance. The man who rejected Romario in the face of much public outcry in 2002 has offered proof of this once again by overlooking a man who played a major role in that success 11 years ago for next month's Confederations Cup: Ronaldinho.
Whilst the likes of Kaka and Alexandre Pato have also been overlooked, both exclusions are much more understandable. Neither are guaranteed a starting place with their respective clubs and are struggling to make an impact when they do get playing time.
Ronaldinho, on the other hand, has had no such problems.
Now 33, the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year has been in fine form for Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro, leading them not only to the Copa Libertadores quarter-finals, but also to the Campeonato Mineiro title at the expense of rivals Cruzeiro.
The explosive bursts of his Barcelona days may have gone and the physique may have altered, but the mind remains as sharp as ever, as do the extravagant array of flicks and tricks.
Positioned in the centre of manager Cuca's 4-2-3-1 formation for Galo, directing on-field traffic with his intelligence and range of passing Ronaldinho has been outstanding over the course of the last 10 months.
Performances of such majesty were prevalent in his winning the 2012 Bola de Ouro (Brazilian Golden Ball) and it is no wonder that in tandem with Diego Tardelli, the brilliant youngster Bernard and the Manchester City reject Jo, Atletico are favourites to claim the Libertadores crown.
Additionally, he has recently returned to the national team with three appearances already in 2013, most recently in a 2-2 draw between Brazil's home-based players and Chile. Despite a performance in that contest which could hardly been described as vintage, and amidst reports that he turned up late for the squad get together, the general consensus was that Scolari would call upon Brazil's most recognisable face this summer, as he looks to settle his squad moving towards next year.
That he hasn't, in the face of such irresistible club form, doesn't bode well for Ronaldinho's 2014 chances.
Over the course of the next month Brazil are guaranteed to play five matches; two friendlies against England (June 2) and France (June 9) and three Confederations Cup group games: Japan (June 15), Mexico (June 19) and Italy (June 22).
It is a competition in which Scolari's side will be expected to make a statement of intent ahead of next year's competition. In the eyes of many Brazilian supporters, the only way to do that is by winning.
That Ronaldinho doesn't make the grade can only make one wonder whether Felipao has determined he can no longer get the job done against such exalted company.
Yet the make-up of Scolari's first 11, especially in an attacking sense, remains somewhat up in the air. Whilst the prodigious Neymar is a guaranteed starter—his exact role (wide left, false-nine) is still very much open to debate—the other forward/attacking midfield roles are very much up for grabs. Yet whilst Lucas Moura, Chelsea's Oscar, Sao Paulo's Jadson, Lazio's Hernanes and the diminutive Bernard have all been offered the chance to stake their claim, Ronaldinho has been, for want of a better word, ditched.
The player himself has intimated that he certainly won't give up. His dream remains to play for his country when they host next year's tournament:
"I wanted to be in the list and I was hopeful, but it didn't happen the way I wanted," said Ronaldinho, according to Supersport.com.
"But this motivates me even more to try to play better and be recalled in the future. There's still a long way to go until the World Cup and my goal remains the same."
Nonetheless, all things considered and taking into account the players age—he will be 34 come next summer—you have to query that time may well have been called on his international career.
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