Ronaldinho's Free Kicks Still Inspire Awe, Even From Opponents (VIDEO)

To paraphrase Earl Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Art and Science have their meeting point in the method of Ronaldinho's free kicks.


The two-time FIFA World Player Of The Year uncorked a vintage, swerving free kick for Brazil's Atletico Mineiro on Wednesday that showed that he's still capable of making his game beautiful at age 33. With Mineiro trailing Raja Casablanca 1-0 in the 63rd minute of a semifinal match in the FIFA Club World Cup, Ronaldinho stood over a free kick and made the goalkeeper for the tournament's Cinderella side look like he was wearing lead boots. The curvature and pace of the signature shot rendered Casablanca keeper Khalid Askri helpless. Askri hopped to his right as the kick was being struck, perhaps presuming that Ronaldinho would be aiming to squeeze a shot in at the near post. Instead, the ball traveled across the assembled wall of defenders before bending in toward the far post. The precision strike kissed off the inside of that far post and bounced into the net as Askri stood rooted to the turf.

Seemingly a roiling mixture of shock, resignation, embarrassment and anger, the reaction of Askri was priceless.





For different reasons altogether, Ronaldinho's reaction was every bit as memorable.



Of course, the reaction of his fans on the field and in the stands was perhaps most indicative of the former Barcelona No. 10. The score seemed to drive one female Mineiro fan to tears.

(GIF via @mcgarrytim)

Casablanca would tally two late scores to advance to the Club World Cup final against Bayern Munich with another upset but the spotlight remained firmly on Ronaldinho when the match ended. So awestruck were several Casablanca players that they took the boots right off Ronaldinho's feet as souvenirs.

While such adoration, mostly for long-past deeds, does not augur future success there will certainly be renewed discussion about a place for Ronaldinho in the Brazilian national team as the World Cup approaches. While Brazil managed to win the Confederations Cup earlier this year without him in the squad, the veteran presence of player still capable of striking the ball with such devastating effect could certainly prove valuable.

"I have not given up on the Brazil squad but I honestly don't make plans, I live in the present," he told Globo Esporte in November, via Sky Sports.



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