The Man Who Was Better Than Cristiano Ronaldo

By João Vítor Lima

 

Brazilian football has its fair share of players labeled as “bad boys” that could have gone farther in their careers, but were lost somewhere in the middle of extra-footballing issues, trash talk, fights, etc. Renato Portaluppi, also known as Renato Gaúcho by the majority of Brazil (so nicknamed because he was born in the Rio Grande do Sul state) is a rare case of a very controversial player who had an illustrious career, with all sorts of individual awards and titles. The problem is that his irreverent side eclipses his football accolades even in Brazil, with his fellow countrymen remembering much more of his impactful statements than his brilliant skills, for example. That’s why the idea to write a football article about him came to me, to show the irreverence, of course, but also the brilliance.

“I have a huge satisfaction when I enter a stadium and start being mocked by all those people and it’s an even bigger satisfaction when I or a teammate scores a goal and I go to the opponent side and tell the fans to hush. It’s such fun!” (Renato Gaúcho) – A brief summary of his career.

Regarded as the greatest Grêmio player of all time (even though he left at only 24 years old), one of the greatest in Flamengo’s history, the symbol of Fluminense in his brief stint there and a key piece to Cruzeiro and Botafogo when he played for them, Renato Gaúcho enjoyed a successful career.

Debuting as a professional for Grêmio in 1982, Renato skyrocketed from a good prospect to the hero of the Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup in just one year. His strong personality made it almost impossible for him to show fear before the pressure of playing in Brazil’s elite. Renato would still win 2 Rio Grande do Sul State Championships with Grêmio (1985 and 1986). He started to collect individual awards in 1984 when he won the Bola de Prata (Silver Ball) as one of the country’s top forwards. This prize is still regarded as the most prestigious individual award in Brazil (but not as hyped as once) and involved the sports journalists from Placar magazine (today ESPN owns the rights to the award) watching, in loco, all the matches from the First Division of the Brazilian National Championship and grading all the players, with the best-rated players being awarded a spot in the “All-Star Team,” consisting of the Bola de Prata winners and the highest-rated one being the Bola de Ouro (Golden Ball).

Renato Gaúcho would amass 4 more Bolas de Pratas (1987 and 1990 playing for Flamengo, 1992 for Botafogo and 1995 for Fluminense) and one Bola de Ouro (1987). Even though this award wasn’t necessarily given to the most technically gifted player (it was more of a consistency award), winning this huge quantity shows that Renato played at a high level throughout his career.

Speaking of his MVP season in 1987, it was when he paired up with veteran legend Zico at Flamengo, and Renato turned into a historical figure in the Rubronegro’s history, with brilliant and key performances and winning the 1987 Copa União (since 2018 recognized as only a stage of that year’s Brazilian National Championship by the Brazilian Supreme Court) and the 1990 Copa do Brasil. After his great 1987 season, he tried to repeat his success in Europe.

Renato Gaúcho with his Bola de Ouro in 1987 (Revista Placar).

He played just one season with AS Roma, being signed as a superstar by the giallorossi, but Renato Gaúcho alleged that Italian and Roma legend Giuseppe Giannini “did not like me, he was against me and did not pass the ball to me” and that was the cause of his failure. Il Principe answered that he had no problems with Renato, and that, allegedly, the Brazilian was the only player that he ever saw training drunk and the only altercation that they had was when Giannini asked Gaúcho to help the defense in a match against Lazio and he said that it wasn’t his job. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single full match of Renato playing for Roma on Footballia or the internet, so it’s impossible to try to say who is right in this controversy.

Renato returned to play for Flamengo in 1989, although he never really lived up to his 1987 season level, he was still a star in Brazilian football, which was starting an era of losing important players to European teams at an alarmingly increasing rate (from just Falcão and Dirceu playing overseas in the 1982 WC to 12 players in the 1990 WC).

In 1991, Renato Gaúcho and Flamengo couldn’t agree to a new contract, leading the player to sign for the Mengão’s rival Botafogo. After a controversial loan to Grêmio mid-contract with the Alvinegro, the player became the leader of a very good Botafogo team in 1992 that was the favorite to win the Brazilian Série A. Renato played a great championship, being such a staple figure as ever and consolidating himself as a Seleção-level player, even at 29 years old. Unfortunately, he got involved in one of his most famous controversies when ***SPOILER*** after the favorite Botafogo lost the 1st leg of the 1992 Brazilian Série A final to Flamengo, he was present at the barbecue party held by the Mengão players, a lot of them, his friends ***SPOILER***.  He never played for Botafogo again.

Because of this last controversy, Renato Gaúcho spent months without being signed by any club, until Cruzeiro did it. The Raposa was well rewarded with his signing, since Renato played a key role in the Supercopa Libertadores and Minas Gerais State Championship titles. In 1993 he returned to Flamengo, where once again he was involved in another controversy.

During the 1993 Rio-São Paulo Championship match against Flamengo’s archrival Fluminense, Renato Gaúcho, who had scored 2 goals, and Djalminha (future Guarani, Palmeiras and Deportivo La Coruña legend) yelled at him and they shoved each other after Flu got the 3×2 lead coming back from a 0-2 deficit. This marked the departure of Djalminha from Flamengo, since he was a prospect and Renato was a star and an established idol.

After a stint with Atlético Mineiro in 1994, Renato Gaúcho signed with Fluminense in 1995 and was the leader of an underdog team that not only made history in that year’s Rio de Janeiro Championship, but also reached the semi-finals of the Brazilian Série A in an epic clash with Giovanni’s Santos (a super hyped prospect at that time, being even a starter for Barcelona and the Seleção in the 1990s and future Olympiacos legend). It was his last true great season at 32 years old.

That  year of 1995 was also a dream come true to all sports journalists in Rio de Janeiro, since there were three players known for the trash talk and strong personalities that often made the day of the professionals looking for a headline: Romário at Flamengo, Túlio Maravilha at Botafogo and Renato Gaúcho at Fluminense. The latter was self-proclaimed as “Rei do Rio” (King of Rio) because of his success with Fla, Flu and Bota and participated in a famous news report when he went all over the city of Rio de Janeiro looking for Romário after the Fla-Flu of April, 30th of the State Championship (https://bit.ly/2WBmrlg) to mock him and say “You guys continue to be good students, but the teacher is back” to Romário and Túlio.

Renato Gaúcho posing as the “King of Rio” in 1995 (Márcia Foletto / Agência O Globo).

In 1996, Renato (even a player-coach for a brief time that year) and Fluminense did not repeat the success of 1995 and the team was relegated for the first time ever to the second division, with Renato Gaúcho saying that he would run naked if that happened (he never fulfilled his promise), but, in a controversial act, the Brazilian Confederation of Football (CBF) decided to not relegate any team to the 1997 Série B.

Returning to Flamengo in 1997, already with his image not being the same to the Rubronegro fans after his years with Flu, Renato was more of a veteran support player in the campaign that led the team to the quadrangular semi-final of that year’s Brazilian Série A. In 1999, he signed for the Bangu team, who tried to relieve their glory days based on a superstition that the team was always the Rio de Janeiro State Champions in years ending in multiples of 33 (1933, 1966 and then 1999). Bangu ended the championship second to last and Renato ended his professional career. It’s possible to watch Renato playing at 36 years old in a Bangu jersey against the Romário’s Flamengo in 1999 on Footballia (https://bit.ly/2IbGBJN).

“It was one of the saddest moments in my entire career” (Renato Gaúcho about being cut out of the final 1986 Brazil World Cup Squad) – The “What If” of 1986.

Amongst all the extra-footballing issues permeating Renato Gaúcho’s career, the most famous one was the incident that led to his absence from the 1986 World Cup when he was in his prime. An absence that is felt up to this day by Brazilian fans.

Renato was an undisputed starter for Brazil in the World Cup Qualification and was one of the Brazilian football stars in 1986, considered one of the most skilled players of the time. He would be a key piece in the WC without a doubt, but his “Renight” (nickname consisting of Renato + Night, because of his partying lifestyle) side spoke louder.

The (in)famous story happened when Renato Gaúcho and Brazilian legendary right defender Leandro broke the Seleção pre-game meeting to go to a Club, even though Brazil’s head coach was the rigid Telê Santana. The next day, they returned early in the morning with Leandro being able to jump the wall where the National Team was staying, but Renato couldn’t do the same. Leandro didn’t abandon his friend and both were busted. To make things worse, the players had all been waiting for the duo to come back until 4am, for which reason none of them were able to train properly that day. This infuriated Brazil’s Telê.

The Seleção’s head coach was convinced to not cut the duo at first, after an appeal from veterans Zico, Falcão and Sócrates, but then decided to cut Renato and maintain Leandro, who is regarded as one of the most skilled Brazilian defenders of all time. However, he refused to play the World Cup in solidarity with his friend. Botafogo’s Josimar would replace Leandro and, after a great championship, would deservedly be awarded with a place in the 1986 WC All-Star Team. Renato’s absence however hurt the Seleção, which had veterans like Zico (playing after almost having both his knees destroyed in 1985), Falcão and Sócrates far from their best physical forms.

Even though Müller was a player with much upside back in 1986, he couldn’t fill the gap left by Renato and didn’t play a good World Cup, with Walter Casagrande also failing to deliver a good performance. Regarding the attack, that Brazil side really needed an unpredictable and creative player like Renato to spark them and what a duo he could have made with the great Careca, both in their prime. Football fans missed the chance to witness it.

Although not as hyped as in 1986, Renato had a chance to play a few minutes in the 1990 World Cup. That Seleção inspired high hopes in the fans after the 1989 season, but came full of problems in the backstage with controversies involving sponsors, prize money and even the head coach, Sebastião Lazaroni, asking the players how he should display the team tactically. He also impaired Renato Gaúcho’s World Cup when he declared that Careca only played with Müller (neither played well) and Bebeto (injured during the World Cup) with Romário (who came to the World Cup already injured). That 1990 Brazil is considered one of the worst of all time.

Renato Gaúcho would be selected as one of the veterans to guide the Seleção in the renovation made during the Falcão era as the new head coach, but, even though the CBF said that they would have patience with the renewed team, the manager was fired after the 2nd place campaign in the 1991 Copa América. Renato would still play for the Seleção until 1993, but the dispute was very hard for him and, not having the same impact as before, he saw players like Romário and Bebeto playing at World Class level and great prospects like Viola and a certain guy called Ronaldo being favored in the race to the 1994 World Cup final squad.

“He (Cristiano Ronaldo) is one of the best players in the world, but I was better than him” (Renato Gaúcho, 2016) – The Comparison.

Renato only played 1 year, without success, for AS Roma leading to all sorts of mockery on him (especially by the foreign media) when he said in 2017, prior to the FIFA Club World Cup final between Grêmio (he was the head coach) and Real Madrid, that he was a better player than Cristiano Ronaldo. Renato had already said that a few times in the past 10 years. But how good of a player was he?

Football socks as low as possible and shin pads inexistent or almost invisible, with a “Rambo Style” headband in his final years, Renato Gaúcho had a very peculiar field dress style that marked Brazilian football in the 1980s and 1990s. His style of play, however, was much more impactful.

Being called a huge individualist throughout his career, Renato did very little to change this aspect of his game. In his peak (1983-1987) he was a right winger who was always trying one on one situations and rarely passing the ball to the better positioned teammate.

As it’s possible to witness in most of the matches available on Footballia, it was a very uncommon situation for Renato Gaúcho to pass the ball to the side or return the ball to a defender. When he got the ball he almost always tried to dribble as many players as possible, regardless of how hard it might be, but his main objective was the opponent’s goal. Although extremely skilled, he rarely dribbled just for the sake of it. Even though he allowed a lot of turnovers because of his insistence on keeping the ball, when he hit the mark, generally, the play would end in a highlight reel goal or assist and the fans would surely forget all his previous mistakes.

Renato Gaúcho was a player with a strong physical presence too. He protected the ball extremely well from the defenders. He was a very fast player, with top speed and acceleration at elite level, apparently never-ending stamina (even as a 32-year-old veteran playing for Fluminense) and, even though he did not like to help the defense (being criticized since the 1980s because of this), Renato always faced every match like it was a final and left his heart and soul trying to be decisive and protect his teammates, which almost instantaneously turned him into an idol at every club that he played for. And what about the comparison with Cristiano Ronaldo?

Even though Renato could never become a prolific goalscorer like Cristiano Ronaldo (the Brazilian’s only top goalscorer award was the 1992 Supercopa Libertadores playing for Cruzeiro, with 3 matches avaliable on Footballia, ***SPOILER*** inclunding a 5-goal performance against Atlético Nacional ***SPOILER***), the comparison between them is not crazy, notably if you pick the 2006/2007 version of Cristiano, before the efficient goal machine was born.

The two players, peak Renato Gaúcho and 06/07 C. Ronaldo, were wingers who tried to think outside the box when they made the plays, both were very skilled players not afraid to take on defenders all by themselves leading often to highlight reel plays, not to mention their physical prowess over the opponents. Another point in common between the two players was the ability to cross the ball with surgical precision to the strikers leading to goals in a constant base. The importance of the two players also stands out. For Brazilian legendary head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari “Felipão” (in a 2017 interview to the ESPN Brasil), Renato was better than Cristiano Ronaldo, but the Portuguese is a more efficient player and goalscorer. C. Ronaldo played under the Brazilian coach from 2003-2008 during his stint as Portugal manager.

Even though it’s obvious that the legacy of Cristiano Ronaldo for football history is more important than that of Renato Gaúcho, it’s worth watching matches of the Brazilian in his peak (1983-1987) on Footballia with an open mind and appreciate his unpredictable plays and high skill set. The beauty of this website is that you can form your own opinion about how great a player was without letting the nostalgia of other people getting in your way. This present football article will not try to say who was better, but the comparison, at least technically and skill-wise, is not as crazy as it sounds to the younger or foreign audience.

“I’m tired… tired of laps of honor” (Renato Gaúcho, after winning the 2019 Rio Grande do Sul State Championship) – What’s Next for Renato.

Renato Gaúcho with his bust statue in 2017 (Mateus Bruxel / Agência RBS).

Even though Renato Gaúcho was considered a “Bad Boy”, he became one of the most successful coaches in Brazil. He is also the only Brazilian to have won the Copa Libertadores as a player (1983) and as a head coach (2017), both with Grêmio. He is one of the main names to succeed Tite as Brazil’s next manager. But you are mistaken if you think he lost his irreverence even as a head coach.

After winning the 2017 Copa Libertadores with Grêmio, Renato should have attended a mandatory head coach course ministered by the CBF, but he said that he would not give up his vacation and would spend every day on the beach. There was a discussion on whether he would be able to still work as a manager even though he did not attend the course, but Renato and the Federation agreed on terms and he took the course in February 2019.

He is treated as a living legend by the Grêmio players and fans. He is known by his birth name of Renato Portaluppi in his home state of Rio Grande Sul, but said that either (Gaúcho or Portaluppi) is fine by him. He is admired by the Brazilian Sports Media in general because of the attacking minded style of play he always tries to apply in the Tricolor Gaúcho team.

 

TOP 5 MATCHES WITH RENATO GAÚCHO ON FOOTBALLIA

(In chronological order)

This match is also known as “The Battle of La Plata” and is an iconic clash between Brazil and Argentina in the history of the Copa Libertadores. The drama, tension, unpredictability and beautiful plays that make football so popular were all there, unfortunately, so was the ugly face of the sport (with accusations of rocks thrown at Grêmio’s goalkeeper, Mazarópi, during the match being just the tip of the iceberg).

Estudiantes entered this match 3 points ahead and with one game in hand against the already eliminated América de Cali, while Grêmio 5 points and no more games to play. A defeat would eliminate the Argentinian side from the competition, which raised the tension surrounding the always high temperature atmosphere of a Brazil vs. Argentina match.

The “pincha” team played this match at home with the likes of Trobbiani (a 1986 World Cup Player), Camino, Russo, Ponce and the maestro Alejandro Sabella (future 2014 WC Argentina head coach), all National Team level players. The Tricolor Gaúcho came with Mazarópi, Uruguayan legend De León, Brazilian legend Tita, Tarciso (“O Flecha Negra” / “The Black Arrow”, 2nd all-time scorer for Grêmio), Osvaldo (10th all-time scorer for the Brazilian Club), China (a fan favourite because of his hardworking mindset) and, of course, Renato Gaúcho as the highlights.

This match, without a doubt, should be considered amongst the most thrilling ones on the Footballia website and the reason why it was selected regarding Renato Gaúcho is that he was always a threat against the Estudiantes defense, but also ***SPOILER*** because he scored a beautiful goal showing a little bit of his speed and a lot of skill ***SPOILER***.

Why not Grêmio vs. Peñarol (Copa Libertadores 1983, Final 2nd leg)?

Even though this match is much more important to Grêmio’s history than the “Battle of La Plata” and ***SPOILER*** Renato Gaúcho got a brilliant assist for the winning goal with a genial play out of nowhere, showing how important he was ***SPOILER*** this final wasn’t anywhere near as exciting to watch as the Brazil vs. Argentina clash chosen.

Here is the defining moment that solidified Renato Gaúcho as the greatest Grêmio player of all time. It’s impossible to search for highlights of his career and not come across this game. ***SPOILER*** He scored two beautiful goals against this strong Hamburg team: two genial plays that showed all his skill and how important he was, despite being just 21 at the time ***SPOILER***.

Grêmio approached this betting all their chips on the two signings of veteran legends Paulo César Caju (basically a 12th player of the 1970 Brazil and a starter in 1974) and Mário Sérgio made specifically for this day. The intention of the manager Valdir Espinosa was to give the team a lot more technique and skill to win the match. He thought that the Tricolor Gaúcho would not do well if they tried to stick to a style of play that privileged the physical aspect of the game. The fact is that those bets were on point.

Some extra-footballing issues surrounded the atmosphere of Grêmio that week: there was an altercation between Caju and Renato during a game played after a training session that contributed to Paulo César being isolated from the rest of the group. This match represented the last professional match of Paulo César Caju, who is infuriated up to this day because his contract was not renewed after the match, even though he played very well. But, by far, the most impressive presentation of the two was that of Mário Sérgio.

If Footballia decides any day to do a list of performances that describes what the Brazilian “Jogo Bonito” means, this one by Mário Sérgio should be in the mix. After watching this match, one starts to wonder how he wasn’t a starter in the 1974, 1978 and 1982 World Cups for Brazil? The answer is that, although considered a genius, he had a “Bad Boy” reputation that preceded him.

Before the 1982 WC, he tried to show that it was a thing of the past with a much more professional approach, leading even the legendary Falcão to lobby for him. Telê Santana even called him to a series of friendlies close to the World Cup, but, somehow, left him out of the final squad.

Mário Sérgio was the first Brazilian player to popularize the no look pass, which earned him the nickname “O Vesgo” (“The Cross Eyed”), a thing that Ronaldinho would be known for decades later. He would end his career with an impressive 4 Bolas de Prata (1973, 1974, 1980 and 1981). Unfortunately, he died in the plane crash that victimized the Chapecoense team in 2016, he was a commentator for Fox Sports Brasil.

The Hamburg team approached this match led by one of the best players in the early 1980s, German legend Felix Magath and, allegedly, didn’t greet the Grêmio side, even though they were in the same hotel, a fact that motivated the Brazilian team to try even harder to reach the World Champion title. The European champions also featured other legends like Ditmar Jakobs, Uli Stein and Wolfgang Rolff. The only Grêmio player that they knew before this match was Paulo César Caju.

In a preview of what the Flamengo vs. Vasco arch rivalry would be in a decade, this match featured it all: an exciting game with great plays, stars and veteran players, tension, controversies and young players with a bright future. 1987 was also the best individual year of Renato Gaúcho’s career, since he was the MVP of the National Championship (Bola de Ouro), with this Flamengo team being the best one that he played, at least on paper.

In this star-studded match, it’s possible to watch some future top 10 FIFA World Player of the Year (Leonardo 1x, Bebeto 2x and Romário 4x, including winning the award in 1994) as young players. Some World Cup All-Star team members (Jorginho, Zico and Romário), the core of the 1994 Brazil (Jorginho, Leonardo, Zinho, Bebeto, Aldair, Romário and Mazinho), veteran legends (Andrade, Edinho and Leandro), an Euro 1996 Spain member and Deportivo La Coruña great (Donato), both goalies being members of the 1990 WC final squad and the all-time top goalscorer of the Brazilian National Championship with 190 goals (Roberto Dinamite).

Only the players here and the rivalry in itself could represent enough reasons to choose this match, but there is more. ***SPOILER*** Aside from making the life of Vasco’s defense a true hell with his skill, Renato Gaúcho showed all of his physical prowess and a good dose of technique in a terrific assist for Bebeto’s goal, a combination that would repeat itself a lot that year, after a run starting from before the center field ***SPOILER***.

Ps: If you have the time, check the 1st leg to get the entire atmosphere of this one.

If the Intercontinental Cup 1983 is the defining moment of Renato Gaúcho as a Grêmio player, this match is the equivalent in a Flamengo jersey. It’s the quintessential peak Renato here. No better place to make history than a semi-final featuring the biggest Brazilian rivalry of the 1980s.

Aside from the obvious hype of an Atlético vs. Flamengo match back then, the media and fans also hyped this semi-final because it meant the chance for Renato Gaúcho to show to legendary head coach Telê Santana what he had missed in 1986. Although the player publicly denied the intent to do it, it was impossible not to associate the cut from the World Cup and this game. ***SPOILER if you want to watch the 1st leg*** Flamengo approached this match playing for any draw, while a simple victory for Atlético Mineiro would be enough for the home team ***SPOILER if you want to watch the 1st leg***.

Atlético Mineiro had the best campaign during the regular season and came to the play-offs confident that they would finally eliminate their archrival for the first time ever, and, as it’s possible to notice in a specific moment during the match, the fans were already on their limit waiting for this to happen.

They featured the 1982 World Cup All-Star Luizinho, the Atlético legend João Leite, the fast and skilled Sérgio Araújo and the veteran Guarani legend Renato Frederico, one of the most talented Brazilians in the early 1980s and a member of the 1982 WC squad. Of course, they also had the great Telê Santana commanding them.

So how good was Renato in this match? He played as a true warrior leaving his heart and soul in almost every play, even giving support off the ball. He displayed his “never-give-up attitude” throughout the game and showed, once more, how important he was, ***SPOILER*** he participated in the play that ended in Bebeto’s goal and scored one of the most famous goals in Brazilian football history. Running from the center field, he exploded with top speed within a short space of time and showed all his skill to pass the defender and João Leite to score a beautiful goal when Atlético Mineiro was showing signs that they could score the victory goal at any moment ***SPOILER***.

126.000 fans gathered at the Maracanã to witness this classic Fla-Flu match. The hype surrounding this clash was very high because it was the first chance for the Flamengo team to win a title in its centennial year and, for that, they only needed a draw. This match is considered another defining moment in Renato Gaúcho’s career.

The Rubronegro Carioca spent a lot of money to bring the genial Romário, then FIFA player of the year, in a move that today seems impossible to happen again. He came to this match with 25 goals, 2 behind Botafogo’s Túlio Maravilha in the top goal-scorer race. The Mengão also had Sávio, future Real Madrid player and considered one of Brazil’s top prospects alongside Ronaldo in 1995, Fluminense and Brazilian legend Branco and good players like William, Marquinhos and Mazinho II, a highlight from Bragantino in the early 1990s, he played for Bayern München and the Seleção.

The 1995 Fluminense was an underdog that day and even was labeled pejoratively as “Timinho” (the literal meaning is “Little Team”, but the actual meaning is “Weak Team”). The team relied on the hardworking mindset of their players, with the veteran Renato Gaúcho leading the way with the then good prospect Djair being the other real highlight, with speculation of him going to Valencia CF, but who would end up a Flamengo player later that year.

This version of Renato Gaúcho wasn’t the same explosive player that he once was, after all, he was 32 years old, but he was still willingly trying to run at defenders and his never-ending leader instincts were all there. He came to this match with only 3 goals scored in the entire championship, but he was the leader of this Fluzão team and one of the reasons they came to this match with a shot at being champions.

So why this match: ***SPOILER*** Renato Gaúcho not only was the psychological leader of this Fluminense team throughout the entire match, he also participated in all three goals. He scored the first one, pressured the Flamengo defender leading to a turnover in the second and scored one of the most famous game-winning goals in Brazilian football history: The Belly Goal. Up to this day he is remembered anywhere he goes in Brazil because of this goal and this match ***SPOILER***.

  • Bonus match: Paraguay vs. Brazil (World Cup Qualification 1985, Matchday 4) 

In addition to the top 5, this bonus match was chosen to show how Renato fitted in Telê Santana’s Brazil. This game also featured a constellation of great players like Leandro, Cerezo, Júnior, Sócrates, Zico and Éder. The latter, who played at World Class level 1982 WC, was also cut out of the final World Cup squad in 1986 for indiscipline, after he punched a Peruvian player in the face during a friendly just a few weeks before the final squad selection. He was considered a sure starter for that Cup.

Paraguay, who has a great rivalry with Brazil, is often a very tough adversary for the Seleção and this historical Paraguayan generation led by the legendary Romerito would not be an easy job for the Brazilians.

Why this match as a bonus and not the Cruzeiro vs. Atlético Nacional (Supercopa Libertadores 1992, Round of 16, 2nd leg)?

***SPOILER*** Even though Renato exploded to score five goals against the Colombian team in 1992, Atlético Nacional played that match with a reserve squad and did not care much about the result. In the Paraguay vs. Brazil match, on the other hand, aside from the great rivalry, a World Cup qualification was on the line, with all the players trying their best to win and Renato Gaúcho was the responsible to finally pierce through the Paraguay defense with a textbook beautiful cross to assist in Brazil’s first goal ***SPOILER***.

Honorable Mention: Grêmio FBPA vs. CR Flamengo (Brazilian National Championship First Division 1982, Final, 3rd leg) 

This match almost featured in the top 5 Renato Gaúcho matches or the Bonus Match, but was, after some tough decisions left out. If you liked Renato, though, you should watch this one. Imagine a 19-year-old being a starter for the first time in a final against the most hyped Brazilian team since the Santos of Pelé and facing his childhood idol Zico. Too much to handle? Wrong.

Renato Gaúcho, back then just a young prospect with a strong personality, cemented himself as the future of Grêmio in this match. Football legend Júnior had to run for his money trying, in vain, to stop the skilled right winger. Renato looked like a seasoned veteran in this match.

This game is also worth viewing just because of its great players, but was also a very exciting football dispute.

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