Brazil’s ‘Triple R’ ready to test Turks

ULSAN, South Korea, AP

Bill this World Cup matchup the ‘triple R’against the big”D”

Brazil unleashes its three “R’s” Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho ?on Turkey�s bruising defense Monday in a game that could well define the qualifiers in Group C.

The two teams are heavy favorites in the group, which includes modest Costa Rica and World Cup newcomer China. The winner of this match can start making plans for the second round in Japan.

On paper, the game looks like a mismatch. Turkey hasn�t qualified for the Cup in 48 years, while the Brazilians have played in every one and won it a record four times, in 1958, 1962, 1970 and 1994.

But Brazil hasn�t been itself lately. The team turned in its worst qualifying campaign ever and nearly missed the finals altogether, squeaking through in its final match against Venezuela.

Meanwhile, Turkey loudly announced its arrival as a soccer power two years ago, when it reached the quarterfinals of the UEFA European Championship and the Turkish side Galatasaray won the UEFA Cup crown. The Turks have publicly stated they expect at least to reach the quarterfinals ?and the road goes through Brazil.

The Brazilians exhaustively studied Turkey�s game films and even sent a spy to the team�s practice. He was promptly uncovered but allowed to stay, and Turkey�s manager Can Cobanoglu cited it as proof that even Brazil fears his team.

�We respect Turkey. I think they�re a great team, and if you saw the tapes you�d respect them too,?Brazil�s coach Luiz Felipe Scolari told reporters.

Midfielder Juninho said his team has to make the best of its superior technique to overcome tenacious opponents like Turkey.

�Everybody wants to beat Brazil,?he said after Saturday�s training. �We have to match them on the physical side and hopefully the Brazilian technique will prevail.? To bolster his defense ?traditionally Brazil�s weak point ?Scolari has added an extra fullback. Lucio, Edmilson and Roque Junior, along with midfield watchdog Emerson, allow wingers Cafu and Roberto Carlos greater freedom to attack up the flanks.

�We saw the opening game. That served as an example for us,?said Emerson. �We�ll have to have respect and be focused.? But the key to Brazil�s success in the Cup is its three R�s. The trio has hooked up for highlight-reel goals in scrimmages, but questions remain about how well Ronaldo and Rivaldo will hold up in the grueling competition.

Ronaldo is still trying to regain his form after an absence of nearly two years for major knee surgery. Rivaldo also is struggling to get into shape after an injury to knee ligaments. Neither is up to speed, and how they will bear up under collisions with opposing backs is unclear.

And tough defense is just what the Brazilians expect from Turkey.

�Turkey brings tremendous pressure, with four, five, six players trying to steal the ball,?said Scolari. �Any errant pass and we�ll give them a terrific chance.? To improve Brazil�s passing game, Scolari named Juninho to the starting squad. The quicksilver midfielder brings creativity and a refined touch that Scolari hopes will offset his small size and limited defensive skills.

�Turkey has skilled and physically strong players, but we know their strong point. They come with a defensive mentality,?Ronaldo said. �We Brazilians are used to this type of game ?especially me.? Turkey is expected to pack the midfield with as many as six players, leaving Parma�s Hakan Sukur as the sole striker. Teamwork is their strong suit.

�It will be difficult not only for us but for Brazil, too,?said Fenerbahce left-winger Abdullah Ercan. �They might have technique and skilled players but we�ve a better collective spirit.

Only Roberto Carlos didn�t join the we�re-all equals chorus. The outspoken defender said Brazil was better and probably could win if it played at 40 percent of its capacity.

�We are anxious to put on a grand World Cup, not just reach the final,?he said. �We want to get there playing well, and we�re training well. All that�s left is for the competition to start.?