Ronaldinho Sets His Sights on the Trifecta: Winning the Spanish Title Champions League & World Cup
BARCELONA Spain (Reuters) - Ronaldinho has set his sights high this season vowing to retain the Spanish title win the Champions League with Barcelona and help Brazil to lift a sixth World Cup in Germany.
"They are three very important competitions. I am trying to take each one at a time. My priority is to win the Champions League which is the top club football competition something that any player wants to win Ronaldinho said in an interview with Reuters.
Despite his status as the FIFA player of the year the fiercely competitive midfielder is not complacent about his role with Brazil.
"To stay in the national team is the most complicated challenge. Brazil is a country where new talent emerges every year so it is quite hard."
The large contingent of expatriate players is proof of the depth of talent in Brazilian football. The world champions are the third most represented nation in Europe's Champions League with 71 players behind France with 75 and Spain top with 85.
"That shows Brazil is in an outstanding phase and that our talent is more and more recognized around the world. In any team now there is always a Brazilian doing well. This is very nice and as one of them it is always great to enjoy all this international success said Ronaldinho 25.
With so much talent around Brazil's national coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has a dilemma others would envy: which players to use in what Brazilians call the "fantastic four"?
Ronaldinho and Kaka are already regarded as untouchables by Parreira himself but he still has to pick two from Ronaldo Adriano and Robinho.
"They are all excellent players well-known everywhere and among the best in the world. It is fantastic to have the trust of the Brazilian coach Ronaldinho said using his Portuguese to call his teammates grandissimos players.
He also had a message for Real Madrid's new 20-year-old prodigy: "Robinho is not at a stage that he needs to prove himself. He is an established successful player and has been showing that already with Brazil he said.
Unlike Ronaldinho who joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2001 before moving to Barcelona in 2003 Robinho went straight to high-pressure Real Madrid.
"He would have to go through an adaptation period. We all have to when we come to Europe but he will get over it quickly and show his great ability Ronaldinho said of Robinho.
Brazil are the 3-1 favorites to win the World Cup. Ronaldinho however is keeping his money in his pocket remembering Brazil's defeat to France in 1998 and the champions' elimination in the first stage in 2002.
"Nothing is won yet. This talk about favorites is something from the past. You have to get there and give it 100 percent and show that you are doing well winning match by match Ronaldinho said.
Always diplomatic he declined to name Brazil's main rivals in Germany.
"I think that in all big competitions like the Champions League and the World Cup all teams must be respected in the same way. If they are in these top world competitions it is because they are great teams."
This season champions Barcelona has not had the bright start expected from the defending La Liga champion. Ronaldinho has even been rested but sees no reason for alarm.
"It is logical that at the start of the league we feel a little bit slower than our opponents. But we have a very good long-term master plan that is working all right. As we accumulate match practice things will improve he promised.
Critics have been saying that Barcelona has lost the winning touch and it is clear that opponents are used to its style now. Ronaldinho said the team needed to be more inventive.
"It is true that everybody knows the way we play. The good thing about it is that we have in our minds everything we need to do on the pitch. The bad thing is that other teams already know how to mark us. We have to try to invent new ways of playing."
Real Madrid have also had a poor start to the season and Ronaldinho watches with interest the drama involving his Brazilian team mates Ronaldo Robinho Julio Baptista Roberto Carlos and also coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo who gave him his first international cap at the 1999 Copa America.
The music-loving Brazilian who from this weekend will be sporting $6000 boots finished off with 24-carat gold feels at home in the sunny Mediterranean environment of Barcelona and declares his loyalty to the club that has him under contract until 2010 but admits that in football the future is always uncertain.
"Today I do not see myself at any other club wearing any other shirt apart from Barcelona. Maybe in the future because in the world of football sometimes it happens this way."