Rijkaard pushes for Ronaldinho resurrection

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Frank Rijkaard offered qualified praise to Ronaldinho yesterday following the Brazilian's positive response to being criticised, substituted, then dropped by Barcelona. "It's necessary to congratulate him, but now is not the moment for him to stop. He has to continue," said Rijkaard, the club's coach.

"I believe he can return to being the player he was, but we have to be aware that players change as they grow older. However, he still has the quality, strength, potency and speed to play with the same explosive style he had before. But he has to continue working to be able to maintain the same rhythm for 90 minutes."

Rijkaard also insisted he would see out the remaining 18 months on his own contract, despite domestic criticism and international interest. "I am happy here," he said. "I am not thinking of anything else. If they don't get rid of me, I'm staying. If the results don't go our way, then everyone will talk about me but that is part of the job."

Bara are second in La Liga, four points behind Real Madrid, whom they host next weekend.

Tonight they travel to the Mestalla to play a Valencia team who are out of Europe, without a goal in five games, and missing the injured David Villa. Nevertheless, Santiago Canizares, the goalkeeper, was upbeat. "The negative connotations of facing a great team like Bara are counterbalanced by the greater motivation from ourselves and that our fans will be more behind us," he said. Real defend their 100 per cent home record against Osasuna tomorrow.

In Italy, leaders Internazionale travel to Cagliari tomorrow with the bottom club considering sacking Nedo Sonetti, despite appointing him only last month.