What happens when you put two of the best strikers in the history of football together?
That question was answered when Ronaldo and Romario were paired for Brazil.
One year in particular stands out. That year was 1997. Ro-Ro were unleashed on world football with devastating consequences.
Who were they playing for?
Romario bounced between Valencia and Flamengo in 1997 but that didn’t impact on his ability to put the ball in the back of the net.
He scored 35 goals in 36 games in all competitions in Brazil, ensuring he was still very much part of the international side.
Life was also changing for Ronaldo.
His form with Barcelona during the 1996/97 season, in which he scored 34 league goals, saw Inter Milan break the world transfer record to bring him to Serie A during the summer of ’97.
Brazil played seven friendlies in the run up to the 1997 Copa America with Ronaldo and Romario start in every single one.
The results were emphatic. Ronaldo scored six times, including a hat-trick against Chile , while Romario scored seven times, netting a hat-trick of his own against Mexico.
They beat Poland, Chile, England and Mexico and picked up draws against Italy and France, the last of which featured Roberto Carlos’ iconic free-kick.
Only one side got the better of them.
Step forward Norway, who shocked the world champions 4-2 in Oslo thanks to a double from Tore Andre Flo.
So the only defence that got the better of Ro-Ro consisted of Henning Berg, Ronny Johnsen and Alfe-Inge Haaland. Go figure.
Ronaldo was in the 1994 World Cup winning squad but he spent the whole time watching Romario’s partnership with Bebeto rather than playing.
So the 1997 Copa America was the first time Ro-Ro would be leading the line for Brazil with international honours at stake.
They didn’t disappoint, scoring seven goals on the way to reaching the final where they met Bolivia.
That final, a 3-1 win, was slightly bittersweet for Romario, who wasn’t able to play due to injury.
Edmundo, Romario’s replacement, scored, as did Ronaldo who netted his fifth goal of the tournament.
Despite his form Ronaldo was beaten to the golden boot by Mexico’s Luis Hernandez. You can’t win them all.
Brazil headed to the Confederations Cup in Saudi Arabia full of confidence after six straight friendly wins.
Ro-Ro navigated past the hosts in the first game, with Romario scoring twice, but drew a blank against Australia in the next group game.
Wins over Mexico and Czech Republic, in which Romario scored three times, set up a final against Australia and a chance to make up for their earlier failure.
Boy did they do that. Mark Bosnich was forced to pick the ball out of his net on six occasions as both Ronaldo and Romario scored hat-tricks.
Mark Viduka got himself sent off after just 24 minutes, presumably so he could sit back and watch Ro-Ro in full flight.
As good as it got
Ro-Ro never really got another chance to dominate international football, as they had done in 1997.
Romario was left out of Brazil’s squad for the 1998 and 2002 World Cup and only fleetingly appeared in the Noughties.
But with 34 international goals in the calendar year Ro-Ro had done enough to ensure they would go down in history as one of the all-time greats.
We’re not crying, we’ve just got something in our eye.
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