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05.11.2007 16:25

Ronaldinho: "I’m still not 100%"

Sandra Sarmiento

Speaking the day after scoring two goals in Barça’s 3-0 defeat of Betis, Ronaldinho gives us his thoughts on the start to the season and his own form. He believes he has room for improvement.

In an exclusive interview with Barça TV and www.fcbarcelona.cat, Ronaldinho speaks freely about the criticism he has received recently. He assures us that he’s not worried by it and that his aim is to perform at 100% of his possibilities and stay with Barça.

At home you’re unbeatable. You’re the best team in Europe at home.

"Perfect, isn’t it? Things are going really well at home and now we have to try and be at the same standard in away matches. The objective is to do well at home and away”.

Why does Barça change so much away from the Camp Nou?

"I think it’s normal. The same difficulties that teams have when they play here, we have when we play away. When they play at home, other teams are very motivated and have the support of the fans. All this makes it very difficult for us”.

Rijkaard says you need more mentality. More sacrifice away from home.

fcb-betis1_x21x.jpg"He has a perfect right to say whatever he likes. He’s the coach. It’s true that we’re performing better in every match. You have to listen to him and respect him, and it’s our job to do what he asks”.

Are you starting to get back to the form you were in before the international break?

"Every time you stop, you find it a bit difficult to get back to the same level. Let’s hope the same thing doesn’t happen after the next break. It’s normal when you stop playing regularly with the same team at the same rhythm”.

Are you feeling better?

"Each day that goes by, I’m happier. After my injury, I’m feeling good again and I hope to be 100% as soon as possible”.

Does that mean you still don’t feel fully fit?

"No. I’m still not 100%. I want to improve in all aspects. I’m better than before but I’m aware I could be much better”.

We saw you smile yesterday. Does that mean you’re enjoying yourself on the pitch?

roni_02.jpg"They only film me when I’m not smiling because I’m always happy. But sometimes, people don’t want to see you smiling and don’t show you smiling. But it’s true. I enjoyed myself yesterday and I’m feeling better all the time”.

Was the goal against Valladolid psychologically important in your performance yesterday?

"I don’t think it was fundamental. I’m fitter in every match and that’s good. It’s not the goal that gives me more confidence, especially if you bear in mind that I’m not a player that scores in every match. But it’s great when you find yourself with a good rhythm. If the goals come, then better still. What makes me even happier is scoring from free kicks. It’s something I work on a lot and when it comes off I’m very happy”.

Did you need a performance like that to regain confidence, or for people to have confidence in you again?

"Neither. A player has to check every day if he’s in good shape. That’s a footballer’s life. You have to keep proving every day that you have what it takes to be in the starting line-up, to be an international, to entertain the fans. So that’s my life every day”.

By the way, who did you dedicate the goals to?

"To a great friend, who’s always here for every match (Manel Vich, the Camp Nou announcer). I get on very well with him and yesterday I dedicated my goals to him”.

The second one as well?

Yes, both goals. He’s a great friend”.

You’ve now scored 90 goals for Barça and you’re the top scorer in the squad. This year you’ll reach 100, won’t you?

“Yes? Even I didn’t expect to score so many goals. It’s good and I hope it stays that way”.

Do you think we’re going to see the Ronaldinho of 2 or 3 seasons ago – the player that scored impossible goals?

fcb-betis1_x22x.jpg"You’re always going to see a motivated player, who wants to give 100%, and I hope that’s what everybody comes to see. A Ronaldinho that is always trying to do the best for his team”.

I suppose it’s difficult to be at the same standard. Do you think you set such a high standard that, now that you aren’t matching it, people think it’s not enough”.

"I think there’s criticism and criticism. There’s criticism from people who have never played football and don’t know what’s happening. Criticism from people who played and know how difficult it is and know everything that’s happening. I think I’m playing well but I’m aware I can improve a lot. I want to be where I think I can be”.

Some people say that you need to reinvent yourself as a player, that you can bring other things and be very important for the team.

"The important thing is to keep on innovating and finding a way to surprise. You always look to surprise, with dribbling, a new move, a new pass... As long as I believe I have the creativity for that, that’s what I’ll try and do. I’m never going to lose my characteristics because that’s what I know how to do. I want to mix everything that is innovative with the same things as always”.

Do you think you find it harder to do things that were easy before?

"No, but perhaps the fans expect me to do all the tricks, the opponents as well. If you don’t innovate, they all take the ball away from you. I believe it’s important to innovate in order to avoid repetition”.

How have you been these past few weeks? How do you react to criticism?

"I don’t worry. I always try and give 100% and bring the best to the team”.

Do you feel you’ve been unfairly treated?

"Never. Not at any moment. The fans have always been with me, which is what is important to me”.

Even now when people are talking about your private life?

fcb-betis1_x2x.jpg"People always talk but they haven’t got anything to show. I’ve been here for many years, I’ve always had my way of living, and I’ve behaved the same. So far, nobody’s been able to prove I’ve done something. People always invent loads of stuff. And as they form public opinion, many people end up believing them”.

All your team-mates have defended you in recent weeks. They still consider you to be the leader of the team. Has their support been vital?

"They’re friends and they treat me well. We’re like a family. And that’s normal. When someone’s being criticised or unfairly treated we always defend him, because we want to see everyone at 100%”.

You’ve given a lot to FC Barcelona. The history of the Club has changed a lot in recent years. Do you think people have forgotten that?

"People have always been behind me. They’ve never left me. And that’s what motivates me: to train more and more every day to keep on entertaining. That’s my motivation”.

Are you happy in Barcelona?

"As always”.

As much as before?

"As always. More each day”.

Have you ever thought of leaving?

Ronaldinho: “I’m still not 100%“

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What do you think about Messi being one of the idols of the Camp Nou?

"It’s normal and I’m very happy about it. Being with him and seeing everything that’s happening in his life is perfect. It’s wonderful and being his friend is something that delights me because he’s never changed”.

Why do you think Messi dedicates nearly all his goals to you?

"Because we’re very good friends and we always try and help each other. Both on and off the pitch. Most of the goals we score come from joint moves and we talk a lot about how to do these moves. When it works, it’s fantastic”.

What do you think about the two youngsters, Bojan and Giovani?

"It’s fundamental to have young players. It’s the future of Barça. Let’s hope the same happens to them as happened to Messi. They look good to me; they’re more and more confident. They’re with the squad each day and learning a great deal. They’re looking better and better”.

And the new signings? In particular Abidal and Touré, who were unknown to many of us and yet have become important players.

"They’re both great players. They’re contributing a lot and can contribute even more. They’re adapting to a new rhythm of play, to a team that plays in a different style to all the others, and I believe they still have a lot to give”.

There’s a lack of cohesion between you and Henry. You look for each other but very often the pass doesn’t come. Do you need time?

"It’s normal. Henry changed from a place where he’d been playing for many years and now he’s adapting. He can adapt to anyone. I’m very comfortable with him and each match we play together we know each other better. He’s a very intelligent player and very creative. It’s just a matter of time”.

The 2014 World Cup is going to be held in Brazil. Do you dream of taking part?

"Yes. I can see myself playing there. I imagine myself in form and in shape. My objective is to keep my place in the Brazil team all that time and help my country win another World Cup”.

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