Like many, Ronaldinho’s World Cup bid may have come too late
Ronaldinho has been left out of Brazil’s squad for next month’s friendly with Ireland, making it highly unlikely he will make Dunga’s list of 23 for June’s World Cup.
It’s quite a come down for the former world player of the year but he has been having a much better season at AC Milan following three years of problems.
Ultimately, Ronaldinho may have timed his bid for South Africa too late just like several other players in Serie A.
Outside of Italy, MICHAEL OWEN is probably the best of example of a big name player looking set to miss the first finals in Africa.
A Champions League hat-trick for Manchester United in the group stages failed to persuade Alex Ferguson to give him more first team opportunities and the only way he can realistically make Fabio Capello’s squad now is to hope for a several injuries upfront.
But it is Serie A where a host of World Cup hopefuls are struggling to realise their dream. Here’s a list in no particular order.
FRANCESCO TOTTI – Yes I know he is officially retired from international football but the AS Roma striker has been giving strong hints that he will make himself available for Italy’s World Cup squad after quitting following their 2006 triumph.
Irrespective of what his team mates might think about him waltzing back into the team having not contributed to qualfication, his fitness remains a big question mark and is probably the reason why Marcello Lippi has stayed relatively quiet on the issue.
At the moment the 33-year-old cannot play three games in a row because of various niggles let alone a potential sevens games in a month in South Africa. Roma coach Claudio Ranieri whipped him off at halftime of their 1-0 win at Fiorentina at the weekend.
He will have to go on a long run of injury-free matches to persuade Lippi. But can you really do without that immense talent?
ALESSANDRO NESTA – Another international retiree for Italy who has consistently said he will not return for the world champions. However, media reports say that behind the scenes moves are being made to change the AC Milan defender’s mind.
Again the problem is injury. He missed a year with back trouble and just when he had returned to his old comanding self, another problem flared up and he is now racing to be totally fit for next week’s Champions League clash with Manchester United. A maybe for June.
MARCO BORRIELLO – Another injury-prone Milan player who has shrugged off his problems to depose Filippo Inzaghi and become the Rossoneri’s chief goalpoacher. Some top performances in recent months have turned into average ones with Milan failing to win in four games. Another maybe.
LUCA TONI – An outcast at Bayern Munich and nowhere to be seen in the Italy squad, the World Cup winner got his big chance with a January loan move to Roma to partner Totti. Just when his World Cup hopes were on the up after a bright start for the Giallorossi, injury struck again and his calf problem refuses to go away.
If he gets fit though and starts scoring, he may well sneak into the squad given Lippi’s obsession with his 2006 group and the lack of another very tall striker in the squad.
AMAURI – The Juventus forward could have made a late bid for World Cup football with either birthplace Brazil or adopted home Italy. His dreadful form over the last year, partly to blame for Juve’s alarming slide, means a ticket to South Africa with either nation (and the lack of an Italian passport after months of waiting) looks very, very unlikely.
There are others in Serie A, such as Milan’s Brazilian striker ALEXANDRE PATO, who is in danger of missing the Man United clash through injury and hence fail to shine in time to impress Dunga. DAVID BECKHAM seemed to be assured of a England squad place after going to the trouble of organising another Milan loan stint but he was dropped by Leonardo on Sunday…