Ronaldo has promised to pick up the pace in
Brazil's match against Japan today. The striker had a dismal outing in
the 1-0 opening win over Croatia, and improved only slightly in the
victory over Australia.
But he said yesterday: "I'm very upbeat for this match. I feel very good
physically and I know I'll play even better against Japan."
The Real Madrid player has been working overtime recently to get in
shape, taking part in individual training sessions in addition to the
regular practices with the rest of the squad.
"I've been practising hard and I'm certain that the results will show
even more in the match against Japan," he said. The 29-year-old is three
goals away from becoming the tournament's all-time leading scorer, two
goals behind Gerd Müller and tied with Pele on 12.
The Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said he may rest some of his
first-choice players, including Emerson and Cafu, but added that Ronaldo
was likely to start so he could continue to "gain rhythm".
Parreira admitted that today's game is little more than a run-out; the
next match is the important one.
"The next round and the quarter-finals are the most difficult in the
World Cup - more difficult than the semi-finals or the final," he said.
"That is because the players know that if you lose a game in the group
stage you can still go through. Lose in the next round, however, and you
go home. That makes the players more nervous so you have to become a
psychologist. If you reach the semi-finals you are only a few days away
from the end of the tournament so it is easier for the players."