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Belletti, Juliano (2007-2010)


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Juliano Belletti (2007-2010)

Written by Loz and last updated September 2010

belletti%20brazil2.jpg Chelsea's surprise August 2007 signing saw some folk singing 'Who are ya , who are ya , who are ya?' Well in truth he shouldn't be that unknown as he has a pretty impressive CV, in fact with the exception of Shevchenko he had the most impressive CV at the club and even Sheva couldn't boast about being in a World Cup winning squad.

Juliano Haus Belletti was born on the 20th of June, 1976 in the Brazilian city of Cascavel, a city with its history firmly entrenched in swine breeding, so at least we are safe in the knowledge that the club will soon be selling top quality bacon butties on a match day.

He began his career as a right midfielder rather than a full back which probably explains why he is, to this day, a full back who very much enjoys getting forward and supporting the attack. It was a career that started back in 1993 with Cruzeiro who he played with for two years. Cruzeiro are well established as one of the most successful sides in Brazil and since 1990 have won a quite astounding number of trophies (not to mention helping launch the careers of the likes of Ronaldo, Renato Gaucho, Dida, Sorin, Fred and quite a few others. Belletti made 52 appearances for Cruzeiro moving onto Sao Paulo in 1995 where he established himself as a first team regular. His record shows that he played for Sao Paulo from 1995 till 2002 but also shows him playing for Atletico Mineiro in 1999 so I can only suspect there was a short term loan move.

He was linked with moves to Europe for the best part of a year before Villareal took a chance on him in 2002. 2002 was to be quite the year for Belletti as he was part of the Brazil squad that won the World Cup for a record fifth time (although it is worth noting that Belletti only got 5 minutes playing time in the whole tournament). He never made the squad for the 2006 World Cup and played his last international in 2005. In total he has won 23 caps and scored two international goals.

After only two years with Villareal Barcelona came calling and Belletti established himself as Barca's first choice right back. In 2006 Barcelona met Arsenal in the Champions League final and Belletti's initial disappointment at being relegated to the bench was soon forgotten when he came on to score his first ever goal for Barcelona, it being the goal that secured the Champions league.

belletti%20with%20cl%20trophy.gif In addition to that Champions League medal Belletti picked up two La Liga winners medals and two Spanish Super Cup medals. He also featured against Chelsea in the Champions League when we knocked them out 5-4 on aggregate, Belletti being the unfortunate Barcelona player who scored an own goal in the Nou Camp!

The signing of Zambrotta pushed Belletti down the pecking order at Barcelona and after a while he began to make noises about needing more first team football. There were rumours of interest being shown by AC Milan, Roma and Newcastle but notably no rumours linking him with a move to Chelsea. In fact in the summer of 2007 the main story relating to Chelsea related to an ongoing pursuit of another Brazilian right back in Sevilla's Daniel Alves.

belletti%20signs.gif It seems just a matter of time before Chelsea succumbed to Sevilla's extortionate asking price of around £27m when, out of the blue, a rumour appeared about Chelsea showing interest in Belletti. Before Kenn had had a chance to write a thesis on Chelsea's game playing in order to persuade Sevilla to drop their asking price the rumour had become fact and, on August 23rd, 2007, Belletti was signed on a three year contract for an undisclosed fee rumoured to be in the region of £3m.

Just two days after signing Belletti made his Chelsea debut when he came off the bench in the 65th minute in the 1-0 Premiership home win over Portsmouth. Despite some scepticism about the logic behind the signing of a right back the wrong side of 30 Belletti settled in quickly and put in some impressive performances including a Shed End man of the match performance in a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Blackburn. The sudden departure of Mourinho in late September saw the team thrown into a degree of turmoil. Replacement manager Avram Grant has shown more of a willingness to rotate the right back role between Belletti and Paulo Ferreira depending on the opposition.

belletti%20scoring%20first%20chelsea%20g The first few months of Belletti's Chelsea career really just confirmed what most people already knew. He loves to get forward and support whoever is playing on the right flank or provide the width that our midfield sometimes fails to. In addition he is not scared to have a crack at goal, an attribute that proved useful in the away match at Wigan when he finished off a fine run with a stunning curling strike to put Chelsea 2-0 ahead. On the flip side his defensive qualities have oscillated wildly. There have been games where he has been perfectly solid however there has also been Schalke away!

On November 6th 2007, the Schalke Champions League away tie, I witnessed what I believe to be the worst performance I have ever seen by a supposedly top drawer full back. OK I have seen a few games between the Anchor Inn and the Black Bull where the full back's defensive ability has been limited to how much space his gut can fill however I can't really compare that with a man who has built a career and a massive fortune out of playing the game professionally. It was an ugly site, the only thing more socking than his performance was the fact that Avram Grant gave him 64 minutes before hooking him. Missed tackles, in fact just no tackles offered, misplaced passes and caught wildly out of position - not just once but time and time again. He recovered form this performance reasonably quickly (although there was still a few iffy moments in the 1-1 draw at home to Everton) however I think it notable that at the first sight of very strong opposition (Arsenal) Grant turned to Ferreira rather than entrusting Belletti with the right back spot.

belletti%20scores%20against%20spurs.gif In fairness to Belletti he recovered well from this slightly rocky patch and his form through the festive period was definitely far more solid and in particular he played well as Chelsea won 2-1 away at Fulham. However the crowning moment was to come on January 12th when Spurs showed up at the Bridge prepared to go away empty handed as has become the tradition. A Chelsea corner was cleared and fell to Ashley Cole who was just inside the Spurs half. He squared the ball to Belletti who Spurs backed off allowing to make progress forward until he was within striking range of goal. After a glance to assess his options - he had none - he hit a rocket of a shot it into the top right corner from all of 35 yards.

We were to see the downside to his game a few weeks later when he failed to hold the defensive line in the game against Portsmouth meaning Defoe was left in miles of space to score the equaliser. Replays showed that Defoe was actually marginally offside when the ball was played through to him however if Belletti had moved forward with the rest of the defence then he would have been metres offside rather than inches.

Against Spurs in our Carling Cup final defeat Belletti had another nightmare game. In particular his first 25 minutes were reminiscent of a man who had won a cup final appearance in a prize draw but in actual fact had never played football above pub football level. He did improve slightly after that however not enough to redeem himself. That performance appeared to cost him his place in the first team as he was left out of the team in the games against West Ham, Olympiakos and Derby with Paulo Ferreira preferred. The remainder of the 2007/08 season pretty much followed a similar trend with the right back position being rotated between Belletti, Ferreira and Essien. As the season drew to a close Belletti found himself on the bench more regularly with Avram Grant preferring to play Essien at right back thus getting over the selection dilemma in the centre of midfield. Belletti replace Makelele in the 119th minute of the Champions League final presumably purely to allow him to take a penalty in the shoot out. This he did and did successfully, without a murmur of complaint, which is more than can be said for Anelka!

Bellettiboro.gif The replacement of Avram Grant with Felipe Scolari as Chelsea manager may initially may be considered to be a favourable appointment for Belletti as it was Scolari who brought him into the 2002 Brazilian World Cup squad (against the public's wishes) however the signing of Bosingwa, a player Scolari knew well due having been his international manager with Portugal, suggested Belletti would start the 2008/09 season with his Chelsea future in as much jeopardy as a man who has his trouser snake in a lion’s mouth whilst a wasp is about to sting the lion’s love spuds. As it transpired the appointment of Scolari turned out to be sh*te for all of us! However Belletti did manage to hold down a reasonably regular role as a utility player featuringly rarely in his preferred right back position but often as a right sided midfielder, holding midfielder and even a right winger (albeit often as a second half substitute) . The highlight of his 2008/09 season was a cracking 30 yarder against Boro which put us 2-0 in a game we would eventually run out as 5-0 winners. Belletti made the bench in our 2-1 win over Everton in the 2009 FA Cup final but never got on the park.

Belletti featured occasionally in the 2009/10 season, largely as a substitute, including the FA Cup final when he replaced the injured Michael Ballack just prior to half time. Belletti conceded a penalty when he brought down Boateng but fortunately Boateng dusted himself down and hit a penalty which could only be described as ‘pish.’ Five minutes later Drogba hit a well deserved winner and Belletti ended his Chelsea career with a cup winners medal.

In June 2010 Chelsea announced that Belletti would be released on a free transfer and in July he signed for Brazilian club Fluminese.

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