Brazil recall Ronaldinho for Argentina friendly

RIO DE JANEIRO - Ronaldinho was recalled by Brazil for the first time in 18 months on Friday for their friendly against Argentina in Qatar next month.

The gifted AC Milan forward, who helped Brazil win the World Cup in 2002, was overlooked by former coach Dunga for this year's finals in South Africa.

"He's in good form, he's a figurehead who will add value to the Brazil team," coach Mano Menezes said when he named his 23-man squad to face arch-rivals Argentina in Doha on November 17.

"The Ronaldinho we want is the one we learnt to enjoy watching," he told a news conference. Ronaldinho last played for Brazil in a World Cup qualifier against Peru in April 2009.

With the 30-year-old Ronaldinho's return, Menezes is looking to reproduce the AC Milan attack by fielding him alongside club mates Alexandre Pato and Robinho, one of the few survivors from Dunga's squad.

"The build-up into attack is a sector where we need to evolve... at Milan, he plays more in the middle, with three players behind him and two in front. It's what I'm considering for positioning in the national team." Menezes said.

Ronaldinho has a thigh injury and is set to miss Milan's home game with Juventus on Saturday but he should return for Wednesday's Champions League match against Real Madrid.

He has lost most of the pace he had at Barcelona and struggles to beat defenders with his old trademark shimmy but he can still produce a world-class pass.


Menezes also recalled Neymar, who he dropped for friendlies earlier in October for disciplinary reasons after the Santos teenager had scored in a 2-0 win over the United States in an impressive debut in August.

He said talks with the youngster, who behaved badly towards opponents, team mates and the former Santos coach, were good and he deserved to be in the squad on talent.

Brazil, hosts of the next World Cup in 2014, expect to face an Argentina side with a stronger midfield than last year when Dunga's team won a World Cup qualifier 3-1 in Rosario, Menezes said.

"The Argentina we saw against Spain have a strong midfield and get into the box in force. We won't do like Spain and expose ourselves to counter-attacks," he said of the world champions' 4-1 defeat in Buenos Aires in a friendly in August.


Goalkeepers: Victor (Gremio), Jefferson (Botafogo), Neto (Atletico-Paranaense)

Defenders: Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Andre Santos (Fenerbahce), Rafael (Manchester United), Adriano Correia (Barcelona), Alex Costa (Chelsea), David Luiz (Benfica), Rever (Atletico-Mineiro), Thiago Silva (AC Milan)

Midfielders: Elias, Jucilei (both Corinthians), Douglas (Gremio), Lucas (Liverpool), Philippe Coutinho (Inter Milan), Ronaldinho (AC Milan), Ramires (Chelsea), Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur)

Forwards: Alexandre Pato, Robinho (both AC Milan), Neymar (Santos), Andre (Dynamo Kiev)