The “Emperor” is back. Back in Brazil that is, and back to scoring some goals. Adriano Leite Ribeiro has hit some pretty rough patches these past few months, but since he was loaned out to Brazilian club São Paulo by Inter Milan, he seems to be doing a lot better. He’s doing so good in that on Thursday, on his first official match with his new colours, the lad got a double under his belt. Kinda to remind everyone why many people still call him O Imperador back in Brazil. It’s just been one good match though… is it fair to talk about “Adriano’s rebirth”?
Probably not. But he who was once judged to be among the top top strikers of World soccer, is on the right track. Stepping onto the field with the Tricolor Paulista jersey, one certainly can’t say Adriano’s opponents for the day were the finest Brazil has to offer. The Estadio Dario Rodrigues Leite is the home stadium of the Guaratinguetá Futebol Ltda, a team which is competing in the Campeonato Paulista Série A1 for the first time in its history. Not exactly Juventus, Milan, or Roma caliber. In this small stadium (maximum capacity: 15,000 seats, all sold-out due to the “Adriano effect”) the on-loan Inter player stepped onto the field with the nº10 jersey and a starting lineup spot, with the full confidence of São Paulo coach Muricy Ramalho.
Beginning the match with his traditional pre-game prayer, Adriano had little to show for his presence in the first 45 minutes. A missed interception inside the box, an attempted header on a Richarlyson over-weighted cross from the left (minute 13), a half-fluked volley in minute 15, and an almost-assist for his striking partner Dagoberto (minute 20). In other words, a lot of incomplete chances. The 2nd half however, reserved some good surprises for the Brazilian, as well as any Inter fans which may have been following the game, hoping (SINCERELY hoping) that multimillion-dollar investment can recover from his crisis and return to the Serie A a better player.
Indeed, for the final 45 minutes of the Guaratinguetá vs. São Paulo fixture, Adriano would put two (2!) goals on the scoreboard, something which a few months ago was complete utopia at Inter. The first, exploiting a rebound from the left, a blasted surface-to-air missile from the edge of the box directly below the bar. The second, from a 30m free-kick after a few deflections, which fooled the keeper as the ball entered inside the right post.
Two beautiful goals (game-winning goals… São Paulo was losing 0-1) for the man with a newfound confidence and newly colored shoes (blue ones, the yellow “Zlatan and Pato-style” ones having been ditched into the trash). Could that be part of the reason for Adriano’s rebirth by the way? Shoes?
Only in true Nike-fantasy land would this be possible, but don’t forget this is Brazil, where superstitition has as much a place in soccer as Jesus and Exu. Go on your way Imperador, the Inter supporters are watching…