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Capello backs Ronaldinho-Milan partnership

England coach Fabio Capello said the acquisition of Ronaldinho has made AC Milan favourites for the Serie A title.

Milan have not been champions of their country since 2004 and last season they finished a dismal fifth – missing out on Champions League qualification – despite winning the World Club Cup.

However, they have bought well over the summer, bringing in Italy international defender Gianluca Zambrotta from Barcelona and box-to-box French midfielder Mathieu Flamini from Arsenal.

But the piece de la resistence was surely the capture of Ronaldinho, whom Capello believes can return to his top form.

“It is lucky for Milan that he is going to the Olympics,” Capello said in an interview published in Thursday's Gazzetta dello Sport.

“He will return match-fit and motivated following his year off.”

The twice former world player of the year enjoyed three successful seasons at Barcelona, winning two titles and the Champions League, but lost his way last season amid rumours his commitment was waning as his love for the night-life affected his performances and attitude.

But Capello believes he can still get back to his form of old.

“If he has the desire to get back to his best, to rediscover his old self, to become once again one of the best three players in the world, he's gone to the right place.

“Milan has everything to put him back into orbit.”

Milan have had a good pre-season, even winning the Tim Trophy earlier this week – a three-way competition between Italy's biggest three clubs, Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus, where they each play 45 minutes against their two rivals on the same evening.

Milan won both their mini-matches on penalties following draws to claim the trophy, considered quite prestigious despite its format which usually sees the teams playing virtually two separate line-ups in their two matches.

With that success, their summer signings and the fact that Milan will not be distracted by the Champions League this coming season, Capello agrees with Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon that Milan are title favourites.

“Great transfer signings and Tim Trophy success; Milan are favourites for the scudetto if, as I believe they will do, they concentrate on the championship,” said Capello.

“Europe can wait this time. (Coach Carlo) Ancelotti will use his best team in Serie A.”

However, Capello admitted that the pressure is on Milan who, despite winning the Champions League in 2007, have a lot to prove in their own domestic championship.

“Milan can't wait any longer. Waiting makes you grow old. It's important to pick the right signings,” said Capello, suggesting that maybye Milan still need some new faces, particularly with striker Marco Borriello facing two months on the sidelines.

Thu 31 July, 2008
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