18
Dec

Raja Casablanca players ransack a willing Ronaldinho for memorabilia

Say what you will about Ronaldinho, but he’s far from washed up.

The former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain standout turned back the clock on Wednesday, scoring a ridiculous take free-kick golazo during Atletico Mineiro’s Club World Cup semifinal match against Raja Casablanca.

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Unfortunately for Atletico Mineiro, Raja Casablanca would go on to defeat Ronaldinho’s squad 3-1 in high-end offensive thriller at Stade de Marrakech in Morocco. As you can imagine, the jam-packed stadium celebrated with joy after their home side’s stunning victory over the defending Copa Libertadores champions.

Even Raja Casablanca players seized the opportunity to grab a piece of history and snatched off equipment from the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year. Not settling for just his jersey, Casablanca players asked for (and received) the Brazilian legend’s boots!

Raja players looked like kids swarming when a piñata finally bursts open. Take a look:

And kudos go to Ronaldinho, who was under no obligation to be such a good sport. We doubt there are many players who would be so gracious in the wake of a tough loss. “Tis the season of giving after all.

5
Sep

Ronaldinho scores two free kick golazos in same match

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Must be the new teeth!

Ronaldinho continues to dazzle in Brazil for Atletico Mineiro, scoring not one, but two free kicks to earn the home side a point against Fluminese. The first of his golazos came in first-half injury time with Mineiro down 1-0.

Fluminese took the lead again later in the match, making Ronaldinho have to produce another picture-perfect free kick late in the match to save his team a point. What a chore!

Mineiro are just a couple months removed from winning the Copa Libertadores for the first time, but have struggled so far in the new season. If it wasn’t for Ronaldinho, who now has five goals in eight games, they would be even lower than their current 13th-place position. In fact, Dinho’s goals have ended up yielding five points for the team. Without them, Mineiro would be in 18th place!

8
Aug

Take your pick: Ronaldinho or Cristiano Ronaldo?

There are few players in the world who can bend the ball perfectly over a wall, past the goalkeeper and into the net on a regular basis. Sure, sometimes you get lucky and hit your free kick just right, but to do it consistently takes a tremendous amount of practice and skill.

Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo are two of those players that have absolutely mastered the art of the free kick. And on Wednesday night, the legends played a game of soccer HORSE across two continents.

First up was Ronaldinho, who scored this stunner for Atletico Mineiro in Brazil against Botafogo:

But Cristiano Ronaldo countered with this beauty during the International Champions Cup final win versus Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea:

Alright, Ronnie, you’re up next. Let’s see what you’ve got.

24
Jul

Mineiro win first Copa Libertadores title, Olimpia players too upset to talk

Atletico Mineiro overcame a 2-0 deficit from the first leg to beat Olimpia on penalties for their first ever Copa Libertadores title.

A goal by Leo Silva in the 87th minute leveled the aggregate score at 2-2 after Jô’s opener early in the second half kept Atletico in the tie. After extra time didn’t produce a winner, Mineiro converted all four of their penalties before Olimpia’s second miss sealed the outcome.

Highlights are below:  

With the win, Mineiro’s Ronaldinho became just the fourth player all-time to win a World Cup as well as both the Champions League and the Copa Libertadores. He also became just the seventh to win the UCL and the Copa Lib. The last to do it was Walter Samuel (UCL with Inter in 2009, CL with Boca Juniors in 2000).

While Dinho and co. celebrated on the pitch, the loss had Olimpia’s players too chocked up to put into words:

23
Jul

Copa Libertadores Final: Atletico Mineiro searches for miracle vs. Olimpia

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By Kyle McCarthy, FOXSoccer.com

Atlético Mineiro assembled its array of stars for exactly this moment: the chance to claim its first Copa Libertadores title at the Mineirao on Wednesday night.

Every single one of those luminaries must produce in order to turn that dream into a reality after a 2-0 first leg defeat to Olimpia a week ago. Atlético flailed around for much of the night in Paraguay and watched as the home side snatched a potentially decisive late goal through Wilson Pittoni to cobble together a decent advantage ahead of the return leg.

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18
Jul

Olimpia fans unveil breathtaking tifo before Copa Libertadores match

Ahead of the first leg of the Copa Libertadores final between Olimpia and Atletico Mineiro, fans of the home side displayed an incredible tifo that stole the pre-game show.


The intimidating yet beautiful mosaic filled the stadium as Olimpia fans roared and fireworks burst wildly in the night sky. It was as intense a moment as you’ll find in world soccer.

The celebrations had begun before the game was even played. It is a safe bet, however, that they probably continued partying after Olimpia beat Atletico Mineiro 2-0, leaving the Brazilian club in a tough spot heading back to Belo Horizonte for the second leg of the final.

Surely, the Atletico Mineiro fans have something dazzling up their sleeves for the return leg.

17
Jul

Copa Libertadores Preview: Ronaldinho seeks elusive club title

By Kyle McCarthy, FOXSoccer.com

Ronaldinho returned to Brazil with one rather glaring omission from his staggering list of honors. And now the Copa Libertadores is within his grasp.

The veteran schemer will lead Atlético Mineiro into uncharted territory in Asuncion on Wednesday night. Both he and his club hope to emerge triumphant in this competition for the first time at the end of this two-legged tie. It will not prove an easy brief to fulfill with three-time champions Olimpia standing in the way of Libertadores glory.

“We have no greater wish than to bring the title to Atlético,” Ronaldinho Tweeted on Monday.

Atlético enters the final as slight favorites after engineering a great escape in the second leg against Newell’s Old Boys in the semifinals a week ago. Guilherme struck in the sixth minute of stoppage time to draw level on points in the series. Ronaldinho then converted the winning penalty to ensure Galo booked its place in the final.

The ample talent with Atlético’s ranks – including Brazilian internationals Bernard (expected to depart for a major European club after this tie concludes), Jô and Réver – warrants significant attention, but the Paraguayan outfit possesses the resolve to create significant problems for its lauded competition. Olimpia proved its mettle by securing its place in the final with a 1-0 defeat against Independiente Santa Fe in Colombia last Wednesday and underscored its ability to claim the title by holding out under significant duress in the waning stages of that affair.

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Ronaldinho seeks his first Copa Libertadores title (Photo: Victor R Caivano/AP Images).

Ever Almeida’s side must produce similar heroics over these two legs to set the stage for another Libertadores triumph in these trying circumstances. The contrast in styles – Atlético with its array of attacking weapons, Olimpia with its reliance on organization and shape – presents the possibility for an intriguing final if the two sides play to their strengths over the two legs.

Those technical concerns, however, fall well down the pecking order of priorities for the former Barcelona star. His focus – as always – remains on the overriding objective and the prospect of adding this elusive title to his protracted level of success.

30
May

Club Tijuana leave Copa Libertadores with heads held high

By Kyle McCarthy

Duvier Riascos found a berth in the Copa Libertadores semifinals placed directly at his feet in Club Tijuana’s 1-1 draw at Atlético Mineiro on Thursday night.

Tijuana could not have asked for a better man to take the potentially decisive penalty kick in second half stoppage time. He took his first half opener – dipped in controversy after a pair of potential fouls at the other end went uncalled and dispatched in style at the end of an incisive counter – with the precision expected from a player of his caliber. And Leo Silva presented him with the chance for his second after he scythed makeshift forward Pablo Aguilar to the ground to halt a prototypical route one move with the seconds ticking away.

Riascos assumed responsibility for success or failure when he stepped up to the spot. He embarked on a lengthy run-up from outside the penalty area and thumped the ball straight down the middle with Mineiro goalkeeper Victor leaning to his right.

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30
May

Copa Libertadores Preview: Atletico Mineiro vs. Club Tijuana

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By Kyle McCarthy

Club Tijuana coach Antonio Mohamed must produce one last miracle to conclude his tenure in style and send the Xolors through the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores.

He must devise a way to end Atlético Mineiro’s staggering record of success in Belo Horizonte.

It is not an easy brief to fulfill. Mineiro has not dropped a point at home during this calendar year. It has not lost at home during this edition of the competition. It has not suffered a home defeat since a 2-1 setback to Cruzeiro on Aug. 28, 2011.

Mineiro’s formidable home form exacerbates the problems created by Tijuana’s inability to protect a two-goal lead at Estadio Caliente a week ago. The 2-2 draw in Mexico hands Mineiro a significant advantage ahead of the second leg and means Tijuana must secure either an outright victory or a tie that includes at least three goals scored to go through at full time.

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23
May

Copa Libertadores Quarterfinal: Club Tijuana 2, Atletico Mineiro 2

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Photo Credit: Francisco Vega

By Kyle McCarthy

Everything proceeded according to plan for Club Tijuana for the opening hour of the 2-2 home draw with Atlético Mineiro in the first leg of their Copa Libertadores quarterfinal tie.

Xolos manager Antonio Mohamed watched his side expose and unsettle a Mineiro side visibly uncomfortable with the unique task presented at Estadio Caliente. The home side asserted control over the proceedings early in the match (Mohamed’s unexpected switch to a 3-4-3 at the outset and the subsequent return to the normal 4-3-3 after 25 minutes or so helped a great deal) and piled the pressure on the visitors.

It eventually told. Duvier Riascos handed Tijuana a deserved opener after 32 minutes. Fidel Martínez doubled the lead at the back post inside the first 10 minutes at the second half. And the Xolos looked like they would take a comfortable and ultimately necessary advantage to Brazil ahead of the second leg.

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