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31.01.2008 23:58

Ronaldinho returns with a win

David Saura

Ronaldinho made his first appearance of 2008 when he came on as a substitute in the Copa del Rey semi final against Villarreal on Thursday night, 39 days after he last played.

The Brazilian superstar entered the fray in the 74th minute, just moments after the referee had awarded the Blaugrana a penalty. As he ran on to replace Bojan Krkic, the Camp Nou crowd rose to given Ronaldinho an incredible ovation and remind him that he is still a hero to them.

Lionel Messi lined up to take the spot kick and, as he admitted afterwards, considered leaving for Ronaldinho to take. Instead, the Argentinian was told to take it and saw his effort tipped around the post by Diego López and away for a corner. It was the first penalty that Barça have failed to score since last season when Ronaldinho missed in the Sánchez Pizjuán against Sevilla.

Centre forward

fcb-vilareal-coparei_x6x.jpgIn 20 minutes that Ronaldinho had on the pitch, he was employed as a centre forward but was not given any chance to score a memorable comeback goal. Despite that, he still combined well with Deco and Messi.

Semi finals again

The former Gremio star's last match for Barça was against Real Madrid and he was prevented from playing again in the new year by an injury, but now he has returned just in time to help the team in the semi finals. Barcelona will face Ronald Koeman's Valencia and will want to go one step further than last term when they were defeated in the final four by Getafe.

At home first

The draw has seen Barça drawn at home in the first leg against Los Ché and they will play that game on February 27. The second game in Mestalla is scheduled to take place on March 17. In the other semi final Racing Santander will take on Getafe.
Ronaldinho returns with a win
Three captains in one game
During the second leg of the Copa del Rey quarter final against Villarreal, no less than three Barça players wore the captain's armband. Carles Puyol started the game as skipper, but when he went off at half time with a knock, Víctor Valdés took on the role. When Xavi then entered the game in the 67th minute he took the senyera band off the keeper for the remainder of the match.

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