Ronaldinho again in Brazil squad for friendlies

AP, Thursday 22 Sep 2011

Brazil coach Mano Menezes has kept Ronaldinho in the squad for three upcoming friendlies, while leaving young sensation Leandro Damiao and Alexandre Pato out because of injuries


Neymar is also in the squad for the game against Argentina on Wednesday in the second leg of the Superclassic of the Americas series, and the friendly matches against Costa Rica on Oct. 7 and Mexico on Oct. 11.

Menezes announced a separate list for the match against Argentina—only with players from local clubs—and another for the other two friendlies, including players from abroad.

Ronaldinho returned to the national team in August for the first time in nearly a year after some good performances with Flamengo. The popular Brazilian club has been struggling recently, winless in 10 matches, but Ronaldinho is keeping his spot with Brazil.

Kaka remained out of the squad as Menezes waits for him to improve his form with Real Madrid, while former captain Lucio and Robinho did not make the list. Lazio midfielder Hernanes, Manchester United defender Fabio and FC Porto striker Hulk were summoned, while injured playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso remained out.

Brazil and Argentina drew 0-0 last week in Cordoba in the first Superclassic, meaning the winner of the return leg in the northern Brazilian city of Belem will capture the trophy. The South American rivals will play twice in each of the next several years in the Superclassic of the Americas, when both teams only use players from local clubs.

Leandro Damiao, who played well last week against Argentina, sustained a right-leg muscle injury just 25 minutes into Internacional’s 1-1 draw against Figueirense in the Brazilian league on Wednesday. He is expected to be sidelined until late October.

Alexandre Pato was injured in AC Milan’s Serie A match, also Wednesday.

Menezes is under pressure as Brazil coach after disappointing results since he took over the squad after the 2010 World Cup. The five-time world champions were successful in friendlies against teams such as the United States, Ukraine, Romania and Scotland, but failed to beat Argentina, France and the Netherlands.

Brazil, only seventh in FIFA’s world rankings, also struggled in the Copa America in Argentina in July, losing to Paraguay in a penalty shootout in the quarterfinals. Brazil was third in the FIFA rankings when Menezes became the coach.

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.

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