Ronaldinho back in Brazil squad

Twice world player of the year Ronaldinho is back in the Brazil squad for the first time since November 2010.

Updated: August 18, 2011 22:52 IST
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Sao Paulo: Twice world player of the year Ronaldinho is back in the Brazil squad for the first time since November 2010.

Coach Mano Menezes on Thursday named the 31-year-old midfielder in his squad for the friendly match against Ghana to be held at Craven Cottage in London on Sept. 5.

Ronaldinho missed the 2010 World Cup and had been summoned only once by Menezes since then, for a 1-0 loss to Argentina last November.

Real Madrid right back Marcelo and FC Porto striker Hulk also returned to the squad, and Neymar, Paulo Henrique Ganso, Lucas and Robinho were also summoned.

Kaka remained out of the squad as Menezes continues to wait for him to improve his form with Real Madrid. Injured Inter Milan right back Maicon, Fenerbahce left back Andre Santos and Chelsea midfielder Ramires also were left out.

Brazil is coming off a 3-2 loss to Germany in a friendly in Stuttgart last week.

Ronaldinho became one of the most high-profile acquisitions by a Brazilian club when he joined Flamengo in the beginning of the year. It took a while for him to live up to the expectations, however, and he struggled in his first few months with the popular Brazilian club, even being jeered by fans and heavily criticized by local media.

But Ronaldinho bounced back and recently has been key for Flamengo's run to the top of the Brazilian league. Local media and fans again started to ask Menezes to call him for the national team.

"After his return to Brazil, there has been enough time for him to start playing well again," Menezes said. "He is one of the most important players in Brazil this season. He has been playing constantly and has been getting better and better physically. Technically, we all know how good he is."

Ronaldinho has scored nine goals in 16 matches in the Brazilian league, only one less than leading scorer Borges of Santos.

"Ronaldinho can become a reference to the youngsters, providing the type of leadership that we need in the national team," Menezes said.

The coach has been revamping the squad since the 2010 World Cup, mixing some veterans with young promising stars who will be in charge of the team at the 2014 tournament at home.

"Of the veterans, Ronaldinho is the one with the most chances to be playing in the World Cup," Menezes said. "He has no history of serious injuries and has been playing constantly."

Menezes took over Brazil after it was eliminated to the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He's already under pressure after the disappointing results against Argentina, France, the Netherlands and now Germany.

The team also struggled in the Copa America in Argentina last month, losing to Paraguay in a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals.

As host, Brazil won't have to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. It will be hosting the competition for the first time since 1950.


Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Inter Milan), Jefferson (Botafogo), Fabio (Cruzeiro).

Defenders: Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Danilo (Santos), Adriano (Barcelona), Lucio (Inter Milan), David Luiz (Chelsea), Thiago Silva (AC Milan), Dede (Vasco da Gama).

Lucas Leiva (Liverpool), Ralf (Corinthians), Luiz Gustavo (Bayern Munich), Elias (Atletico Madrid), Paulo Henrique Ganso (Santos), Lucas (Sao Paulo), Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk), Ronaldinho (Flamengo).

Forwards: Alexandre Pato (Milan), Neymar (Santos), Leandro Damiao (Internacional), Robinho (AC Milan), Hulk (FC Porto).

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