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July 26, 2008

Italian resurrection for Ronaldinho at AC Milan

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Ronaldinho Gaucho, the former European and World Footballer of the Year, finally completed his transfer to italian powerhouse AC Milan from Barcelona last week, putting behind him the worst 12 months of his career as he missed large chunks of the campaign due to injury and poor form.

“I am becoming reborn with AC Milan,” Ronaldinho admitted in an interview at Gazzetta dello Sport with his trademark toothy grin, while speaking from Brazil’s Olympic training camp in Singapore.

“I am improving day by day. I thank coach Carlo Ancelotti and the club for having authorised me to come to the Olympics, as it will be an excellent way of preparing for the Italian season.

“I am working really hard, following a personal fitness programme with a specific diet and I think I’m close to 100 per cent now,” he claims.

“What's more, on August 7, when we make our Olympic debut, I will be in ideal shape," added Ronaldinho, who travels to the matches in Beijing as one of the Selecao’s three over age players.

“In fact, Brazil might want me to play as a striker next to Pato, which is absolutely no problem for me, as I have already played in that role.

“If Carlo Ancelotti asks me to play there too, I am ready. Whether it is midfield or attack, I will give my all” he assured.

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Dunga trusts in Ronaldinho for Beijing mission

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Real Madrid's Robinho was confirmed to be out of the Brazilian Olympic team. That's why Dunga heads to Beijing counting on the experience of Ronaldinho Gaucho and Thiago Silva, the only players over 23 years old left on the roster.

“I think that Ronaldinho and Thiago Silva will take care of our problem,” Dunga expressed, just before the squad left Brazil for a preparation period in Singapore.

As we know, Robinho was to be the third overage player in the roster, but Real Madrid decided not to release the footballer because of an injury.

“Unfortunately it happened,” Dunga admitted. “However, we will work with what we have, and we still have a strong group of players.”

It's interesting to know that Dunga replaced Robinho with 21-year-old Cruzeiro midfielder Ramires, leaving Brazil with only three strikers – Rafael Sobis, Jo and Alexandre Pato.

“Ramires can play several positions, he is a versatile player and will help us a lot,” the Brazilian coach admitted.

In addition to Robinho, Dunga will be without Milan midfielder Kaka and Roma defender Juan, also not released by their teams.

Schalke defender Rafinha and Werder Bremen midfielder Diego – both of whom qualify as under 23 – did not have permission from their German clubs, but have left there clubs to join the national team in Paris.

We must remember that the Olympics is the only significant title the five-time World Cup champion has never won. The Brazilians won the silver medal twice, in 1984 at Los Angeles and 1988 at Seoul, and the bronze in 1996 at Atlanta.

As it was announced, Brazilian national team will play two friendlies before heading to China – against Singapore next Monday in Singapore, and against Vietnam on 1 August in Hanoi.

Brazil was placed in Group C along with Belgium, China and New Zealand. It will debut on 7 August against Belgium in Shenyang. It will be a tough challenge for the "verdeamarelha".

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