Opinion: Atlético Mineiro’s Libertadores triumph not just down to Ronaldinho
Brazilian entertainer Ronaldinho added another trophy to his already impressive haul, as Atlético Mineiro defeated Olimpia of Paraguay to lift the Copa Libertadores.
But to only include his name in the post-match headlines does not do justice to the other players involved in this historic cup win.
The Brazilian side were two goals down from the first leg, but thanks to an impressive team effort and some half-time tinkering by manager Cuco, they managed to score the goals required to level the tie, before coming out on top in the penalty shootout.
Being the most familiar name in the squad, Ronaldihno was the consistent theme in the post-match furore, but the triumph in Belo Horizonte was down to a big effort from the whole squad, not just one man.
However, if you were pushed to look for stand-out performers, it would be difficult to look past the two goalscorers for the Brazilian side.
The opening goal of the game was scored just after half time by Jô, as he pounced on a missed clearance by Wilson Pittoni. The journeyman centre-forward held the ball up well throughout the game as Atlético Mineiro looked to force the issue, playing direct passes up to him on a regular basis. He added to his impressive performance by scoring a penalty in the ensuing shootout.
Central defender Léonardo Silva also played a vital role in the victory, scoring the all important equalising goal to keep Galo in the tie, and was another player willing to step up during the shootout, converting his team's fourth and final penalty.
The latest young Brazilian sensation, Bernard, brushed aside the speculation about his future with a performance which showed guts and determination. He was singled out for some rough treatment by the opposition, but still managed to play the full game despite suffering cramp in extra time.
With the Olimpia defensive line playing so deep, Bernard had to drop back into midfield to receive the ball as there was nowhere to run in behind, and he often found two men marking him when he looked to move forward. As a result of this, he almost ended up playing as a wing-back, covering the entire length of whichever flank he found himself on, and was occasionally called upon to help out defensively.
All this meant that Bernard didn't grab the headlines as he might have in different circumstances, but it's fair to say that he still contributed as much, if not more than, Ronaldinho.
It's not that the number ten had a bad game, and he certainly wasn't as anonymous as he was in the first leg. He always looked threatening from set pieces and generally used the ball well when he got it, but the amount of attention on him post-match seems unfair on other players who had a bigger impact on the game.
It's important to recognise Ronaldinho's contribution throughout the competition, and winning both the Champions League and the Copa Libertadores is an achievement worth noting.
But let's celebrate this for what it is: a momentous occasion in the history of Atlético Mineiro, and one which all those involved with the club will never forget.