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02.06.2007 11:38

Neeskens: “We hope Ronaldinho can play in the derby”

Sandra Sarmiento

Frank Rijkaard’s assistant has spoken at length about the current situation at FC Barcelona and has presented his opinion about the Ronaldinho sending off, the refereeing of the match and Bernd Schuster’s comments.

The Barça players that are not on international duty have been given two day’s off, as have the coaching staff. There is no football in Spain this weekend, with two league matches still to play. Johan Neeskens told Barça TV and www.fcbarcelona.cat that this break in the action “will have a negative effect on us. As we have such a good squad, 13 of our players are away with their national teams. The same has happened to Real Madrid. But we have to play a league match and we’ll only have one day to train for it. And it’s a very important match.”

Will Ronaldinho play in the derby? Was the sending off unfair?

QM3D5733.jpg“We hope he can play. He is an important player for us. When you watch what happened from the start, you see that Belenguer kicked Ronnie 6 or 7 times. There was no need to wait until the end. The referee should have been on top of what was going on and should have blown for the second foul. Ronaldinho got kicked so much he got angry. And the Getafe player went down far too easily. I think it was a normal reaction, but Belenguer’s fouls on Ronnie were not.”

Should referees be more protective of the big stars?

“Not just the stars but any player that likes to play football. The referees need to control these things better and be able to tell if a tackle could cause an injury or not. We have seen planet of games in which Ronnie, Messi, and Iniesta too, have been wound up, when they were playing great games. A lot of these players don’t get enough protection from the referees.”

Did Messi’s goal against Getafe do him more damage than good?

23-08-06_Neeskens.jpg“No. A player with his qualities, who scored a goal that made the headlines in all the papers, one of the best goals in history, should only naturally be the focus of people’s attention. But the Getafe coach, Bernd Schuster, said some strange things. Because he was a great player in his time and made a lot of complaints when Goikoetxea of Bilbao took him out with that tackle. He said that referees needed to clamp down more on players that make dangerous challenges like that. But on Saturday they fouled Messi 10 times and Schuster said he was just diving. It is not fair.”

Neeskens: “We hope Ronaldinho can play in the derby”

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Barça bite
Why aren’t Barça the leaders any more?

“Sometimes we haven’t played as well as we could. We have dropped some important points. Like Sevilla away, against Villarreal at the Madrigal or Betis at home. Now we are depending on other results going our way, and that shouldn’t be the case.”

This week, Xavi said the team had been over-confident. Do you agree?

“A lot of things have happened. Eto’o got injured, and he’s a guaranteed goalscorer, Messi got injured, and was out for three and a half months. After the game in Japan we came back with a lot of injuries. That was also bad for the team, but there was no problem with overconfidence.”

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