From the ‘elastico’ to the ‘espaldinha’: this is Ronaldinho’s bag of tricks, on display tonight at the Ghelamco Arena

From the ‘elastico’ to the ‘espaldinha’: this is Ronaldinho’s bag of tricks, on display tonight at the Ghelamco Arena
From the ‘elastico’ to the ‘espaldinha’: this is Ronaldinho’s bag of tricks, on display tonight at the Ghelamco Arena

To start, of the 230 goals in his career, Ronaldinho scored 66 from free kicks. Of course he can put the ball where he wants. Also on the bar. Who hasn’t seen this video?

This ad for Nike became the first video on YouTube to reach more than a million views. Probably because everyone looked at it more than once, looking for a hint whether this was really possible. The discussion raged for years, partly because Ronaldinho perpetuated the myth himself. “I’ve always done that,” said Ronnie. Anyone who often saw the player at work in training also assured that this was daily fare for him. Could be.

Unfortunately, for those who believe in this fairy tale, the commercial is indeed trick. Ronaldinho didn’t hit the bar four times in a row. “We solved that digitally,” Vita Laursen, Nike’s director of communications in Northern Europe, revealed at the time. “Someone was in the goal, who kicked the ball back to Ronaldinho. But he did hit the bar twice in a row during the shoot.”

So time for an overview of what R10 really did.

To start: the elastico. Ronaldinho could mislead a player like no other by making a lightning-fast right-left movement with his right foot. This is not an invention of Ronaldinho. It is compatriot Rivellino, part of the great Brazil that became world champions in 1970, who launched the movement at the highest level. He had learned it himself from a teammate at Corinthians, Echigo. Here you see Rivellino, when football was even slower.

How he literally killed balls on the chest and took them with him: whether Ronaldinho is the inventor is hard to say. In any case, he did learn about it. In the meantime, players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Alexis Sanchez have already copied that.

The sombrero then, also known as the “rainbow shovel”. It is also made in Brazil, first shown by Alexandre de Carvalho alias Kaneco, in the late 1960s, and widely distributed ever since. What Ronaldinho added is the no look dimension.

The no lookpass is also attributed to Ronaldinho, although Michael Laudrup already did it before at Barcelona. No one made the no look pass so popular as Ronaldinho, a master at “looking the other way” when sending a through pass.

The switch has been around for a hundred years, the panna is not original either. The samba move, before he starts a dribble? Those spinning hips for that legendary punt against Chelsea? Nice, but it’s not a real skill.

So what is typical of Ronaldinho? The answer is the ‘espaldinha’. The control or even pass with the back seems to be his creation. For those who want to see it again, how he once gave an assist to Ludovic Giuly with his back.

Many players have already done the same, from Benzema to Cristiano Ronaldo. Including Dries Mertens…

…and Denis Odoi, who even passed an opponent with it.

Or take the free kick under the wall. Like these.

That was also done for Ronaldinho, including by Rivaldo. Ronaldinho is not completely original. Nigerian Jay-Jay Okocha even claims that the Brazilian, with whom he spent a year at PSG, copied some of his skills. Whatever the case may be, it doesn’t detract from Ronaldinho. His genius was that he seemed to be able to do everything possible in football’s bag of tricks. At the most crucial moments, he shook something incredible out of his body. Anyone can do tricks, but if they lead nowhere, it’s not football anymore, it’s just a circus act. Ronaldinho used it efficiently and won all kinds of prizes with it.

Who’s still doing it since he retired? Lionel Messi, who once made his Barcelona debut as a substitute for Ronaldinho? “I’m a fan of how he dribbles, stops and takes off. But I didn’t teach him anything. Leo was always like that,” said Ronaldinho a few years ago inthe leaf So Foot. Messi, however, seems to be of a different order. How about Neymar? Ronaldinho in the same interview: “Neymar at Santos was like that. But he has become more serious, more European, more tactical. I never adapted to tactics. My style doesn’t match that. I had to be free to give the best of myself.”

For those who want to enjoy the “free” Ronaldinho:

Tags: elastico espaldinha Ronaldinhos bag tricks display tonight Ghelamco Arena

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