Spanish Football News
It seems that Ronaldinho is coming in for a fair amount of criticism for missing out on FC Barcelona's La Liga clash with Almeria at the weekend. After moaning about the fact that his leg 'hurt', the Brazilian was left out of Sunday's injury hit squad, and is now feeling the backlash after Barcelona blew yet another chance to close the gap on Real Madrid at the top of the Spanish league…
Barcelona were forced to include several youth team players in their squad at the weekend with a number of key players out through injury. The local press, however, questioned the legitimacy of Ronaldinho's injury for such a crucial macth; with 'el periodico' even going as far as accusing the player of being punished for being hung-over after attending an all night party - or samba session as the tabloids might put it.
In an attempt to convince an already cynical Catalan media that he really was suffering, Ronaldinho proceeded to hobble around Barcelona's 'open' training session on Monday. After just a few minutes the player limped off the training pitch at La Masia to a round of ironical applause from the assembled hacks.
Having scented blood, the local sports journos sharpened their crayons and proceeded to blame Ronaldinho for Barcelona's performance in Almeria and just about everything else they could think of.
Things got even worse for the player today as the Barcelona sports papers, Johan Cruyff and even the club, perhaps inadvertently, decided to put the boot in.
First of all, the football club issued a statement - presumably in a bid to quell anxieties over the player's long term health - stating: "Given the continuing muscle discomfort, Ronaldinho has undergone a scan that has revealed that there is no muscle or tendon injury. The player will receive clinical treatment to remedy the inconvenience that he is feeling."
As you might imagine, the press have had a field day. Sport, in particular is particularly incensed that Ronaldinho's injuries are all in his head and reminds us that he has already missed two months of the season because' he didn't feel quite up to it.'
However, worse was to come: when Johan Cruyff decides to stick his hugely influential oar in, you know you're in trouble.
Sniping from his column in El Periódico de Catalunya, the former Barcelona star and coach (turned major thorn in the backside for anyone who isn't doing the job as well as he thinks he could) wrote: "I'm not a doctor, nor am I involved with the Barça squad, but it surprises me that at this stage of the season, at such a decisive moment, the club needed three lads from the youth team to comprise a list."
And in a thinly disguised criticism of Ronaldinho, Cruyff added "In the end I'd like to see a situation where physical discomfort was not an insurmountable obstacle to the team pulling together."
Barcelona must cobble together a team from their squad of walking wounded for Thursday evening's Copa Del Rey semi final against Valencia. On the treatment table at the weekend alongside Ronaldinho and his 'inconvenience', were Rafael Márquez, Touré Yaya, Deco and Giovani Dos Santos and all are a doubt for the cup decider.
Cruyff singled out Touré for praise after it emerged that the Ivory Coast star is willing to play through the pain and has postponed essential surgery that he requires for a slipped disc.
Cruyff writes: "His decision should be an example to all and it should be borne in mind for all those who are healthy and who apparently have a knock."