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Brazil down two of three Rs

The Three R's: (top to bottom) Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho
The Three R's: (top to bottom) Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho  

Staff and wires

SAITAMA, Japan -- The feared "Three Rs" attack that has taken Brazil to the final four of the World Cup is likely to be down a letter or two in the semifinal clash against Turkey on Wednesday.

With Ronaldinho, the star of Brazil's quarterfinal win against England, out with a one-match ban and striker Ronaldo nursing a leg injury, it may be left to the other "R" -- Rivaldo -- to lead the attack. (Turkey confident)

Between them, the three Rs have scored 12 of Brazil's 15 goals in the tournament.

Ronaldhino got the winner against England with a crafty freekick from 30 yards that floated over the head of English goalkeeper David Seaman. (Seaman says sorry)

But moments later, in the 57th minute, Mexican referee Felipe Ramos sent off Ronaldhino for crunching his studs into Danny Mills' shin.

"I wasn't trying to hurt him or get back at him for kicking me," Ronaldinho said of the tackle. "I was trying to protect myself and I raised my foot.

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"If I could have thought twice about it I wouldn't have put my foot that way," he said. "But in soccer things sometimes happen so fast."

Automatically ruled out of the semifinal, the Brazilian got the news he wanted on Sunday when FIFA confirmed he would receive only the one-match ban for his indiscretion. (FIFA admits refs mistakes)

Should Brazil beat Turkey on Wednesday, the 22-year-old Paris St. Germain player will be allowed to play in Sunday's final.


In the meantime, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari must decide upon a replacement for Ronaldinho.

Among the contenders are midfielders Juninho and Kaka and strikers Edilson and Denilson.

Ronaldo, who came off in the 70th minute against England with a sore left thigh muscle, is expected to recover in time for Wednesday's clash.

The injury is not connected to the knee problems that have sidelined the star striker for almost 24 months since Brazil's defeat to France in the 1998 World Cup final.

But Scolari hinted he may play Ronaldo even if not fully fit.

"I won't spare anyone," he said. "Anyone who has half a leg will be out there."

Ronaldinho's disbelief is matched by the referee's conviction
Ronaldinho's disbelief is matched by the referee's conviction  

Ronaldo, who has shown glimpses of his top form, is tied on five goals with teammate Rivaldo and Germany's Miroslav Klose in the race for the Golden Boot -- the award for tournament's top scorer.

Rivaldo, the other "R", seems certain of a semifinal start. The Barcelona player, who was on the end of a Ronaldinho run to put a goal away shortly before halftime against England, has scored in every game.

The last player to do that was Jairzinho in Brazil's victorious 1970 campaign in Mexico.



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