Ronaldinho back as Big Phil takes charge
lRIO DE JANEIRO
Mercurial forward Ronaldinho was given another chance by Brazil as Luiz Felipe Scolari named his first squad since returning for a second stint as coach yesterday.
Scolari, who led Brazil to their fifth world title in 2002 and was called back in November to lead their attempt to win a sixth on home soil in 2014, also brought back tried and trusted goalkeeper Julio Cesar.
Both Ronaldinho and Julio Cesar, Brazil's regular first-choice goalkeeper from 2007 to 2011, made their last appearances against Bosnia in February last year.
"I want what everyone else wants which is that they play the football they are capable of playing," the man known as Big Phil (Felipao) told reporters when asked what he expected from Ronaldinho and fellow forward Neymar.
"Few can play the game better than them. I also want good behaviour. I want them to be responsible, regardless of their age."
Ronaldinho, 32, has been in and out of the Brazil squad over the last few years and missed the 2010 World Cup as his career went steadily downhill, widely blamed on his partying lifestyle.
He reached his peak with Barcelona, when he was voted FIFA's World Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005, then spent three less successful years with AC Milan before joining Flamengo at the start of 2011.
He walked out on the Rio de Janeiro club last year but then found a new lease of life with Atletico Mineiro.
Scolari reiterated that he would be satisfied with nothing less than the "hexacampeonato" next year and he has barely 18 months to build a world-beating team and only one competition, the Confederations Cup which Brazil hosts in June.
Despite this, and a lowest-ever world ranking of 18th, Scolari said he expected to be successful.
"We have placed our bets on a World Cup win and that is what we are working towards," he said. "The supporters are right to demand it."
The former Portugal and Chelsea coach, whose predecessor Mano Menezes was unceremoniously sacked despite improving performances and results, will make his debut against England at Wembley on February 6.
Scolari dropped unsettled Real Madrid midfielder Kaka and brought back Lazio midfielder Hernanes and included uncapped Bayern Munich midfielder Dante.
The inclusion of out-and-out strikers Fred and Luis Fabiano indicated that Scolari, unlike Menezes, had no plans to emulate Spain and play without a recognised centre-forward.
"I always like to have a stronger type of player in the penalty area but it doesn't mean to say we can't change in the future and not have a fixed striker," said Scolari.
However, his inclusion of Arouca, Paulinho, Ramires, Oscar and Hernanes suggested that he was prepared to follow the example of Menezes and field a more cultured midfield than 2010 World Cup coach Dunga.
Menezes was surprisingly fired in November after painstakingly rebuilding the Brazil team and moving them away from their unpopular counter-attacking game.
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Queens Park Rangers), Diego Alves (Valencia)
Defenders: Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Adriano (Barcelona), David Luiz (Chelsea), Dante (Bayern Munich), Leandro Castan (AS Roma), Miranda (Atletico Madrid), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid)
Midfielders: Ramires (Chelsea), Arouca (Santos), Paulinho (Corinthians), Hernanes (Lazio), Oscar (Chelsea)
Forwards: Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg), Neymar (Santos), Ronaldinho (Atletico Mineiro), Lucas (Paris St Germain), Fred (Fluminense), Luis Fabiano (Sao Paulo)