Although both had been part of the squad Luiz Felipe Scolari brought to Korea and Japan in 2002, where they won the World Cup, neither had done enough to impress the returning manager in his second stint in charge of the Selecao.
And so, when Scolari revealed his roster for the 2014 World Cup trial run, Ronaldinho and Kaka were unsurprisingly absent.
In their stead were the likes of Sao Paulo’s Jadson and Lazio’s Hernanes. While Scolari admitted his side would miss the more than 180 international appearances the pair might have offered, he insisted the country’s younger players would compensate for the lack of experience with “enthusiasm,” according to the Guardian.
Ronaldinho’s omission could be described as rather more unforeseen than Kaka’s.
The 33-year-old had a terrific season for Atletico Mineiro in 2012 and earlier this month helped the Belo Horizonte side to a 6-2 aggregate win over Sao Paulo in the Copa Libertadores. Atletico will play Mexico’s Tijuana in the next round and is now one of the favourites to win South America’s Champions League equivalent.
But he simply failed to impress Scolari in recent matches against England, Bolivia and Chile. With Brazil spoiled for choice in the centre of the park, he would only have been included as a luxury player anyway.
And as Scolari told the press on Tuesday (as translated by the Guardian), he simply didn’t care about the exterior pressure to name Ronaldinho to his squad:
If we don't do well in the competition...I will be prepared for that. I know about that when I'm calling players A, B or C. If we don't do well, even if I call a player that the newspaper wants, or the TV wants, I know I will be heavily criticized.
Kaka, meanwhile, was likely never in Scolai’s plans.
Included for friendlies against Italy and Russia in March, he played the final 28 minutes against the Azzurri and started in the Russia match but did absolutely nothing in either.
He looked very much a player who has begun just 11 La Liga matches for Real Madrid this season. With both Oscar and Hernanes vying for a central playmaking spot and Lucas Moura and Hulk hoping for minutes in a right-sided attacking role, there was simply no need to involve Kaka in the Confederations Cup.
Both Ronaldinho and Kaka, unfortunately, flamed out when they should have been enjoying their primes—one because of lifestyle choices, the other because of an ill-advised change of clubs.
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil should have been the crowning moments of their careers, but at this point, it’s almost impossible to see either one of them being so much as considered for a place in Scolari’s squad a year from now.