Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium reopened Saturday night after nearly three years of renovations. With the legendary venue set to host the FIFA World Cup final next summer, fans here in 2013 were treated to the next best thing for some Saturday night fun.
Ronaldo, the three-time FIFA World Player of the Year, hairstyle icon and (alleged) former patron of transvestite prostitutes, showed off his new, slender-ish physique in an exhibition match with a bunch of his friends. His team, Amigos do Ronaldo defeated Amigos do Bebeto (Bebeto is another former Brazil international forward) 8-5 in a match that featured Ronaldo showing off some silky moves.
With the score 6-4 late in the second half, Ronaldo received a pass in the box, turned and beat a defender before rolling a low shot in to the goal at the far post. If you squint hard enough, it almost looks like the Ronaldo of a decade ago, gliding past defenders and scoring with ease against the best.
Then, you watch the replay and realize the defender either couldn't defend to save his life—or was just letting Ronaldo score. It was, after all, Ronaldo's game and all, and it was a big occasion.
Either way, the goal appears in the clip above and serves as our Set Piece Video of the Day. Enjoy.
As for the Maracana itself, the BBC News report from the evening's festivities noted "problems" with the venerable old stadium, citing local newspaper accounts:
(T)he Jornal do Brasil said Saturday's visitors "needed patience to deal with the many problems" at the venue, arising from the rush to complete it.
It highlighted uneven flooring with small gaps and holes, flooding in the VIP area and a dysfunctional lift, and said some staff had tried to prevent journalists taking pictures of the affected areas.
Workers were still finishing building a stadium wall, and ticket offices, turnstiles and gates were not working, said another paper, the Folha de Sao Paulo.
But in a statement quoted by the Folha de Sao Paulo, the Rio de Janeiro state government pointed out that this was a test event, using only 30 percent of the stadium's full capacity, and did not represent the full reopening.
It said it was "natural" that some more work remained to be done.
"Maracana will be delivered fully ready on the date set by FIFA: 24 May," it reportedly said.
We'll await further word eagerly. Clearly, though, Ronaldo is ready for action.