Rijkaard defends off-form Ronaldinho

FC Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard isn't concerned about Ronaldinho's poor start to the season with the European champion.

"We've seen his performances drop but there's no reason to be worried. We're dealing with it. He's doing what he can for the team and that's enough because he works for the team," Rijkaard told Catalan radio station RAC 1 late Wednesday.

The coach attributed Ronaldinho's slump to a lack of rest following the World Cup. He said the 26-year-old Brazilian forward had to play in all Barcelona's preseason games due to contractual obligations.

"He is a key player but he isn't a machine or a robot. Sometimes we forget he is a human being," he said.

Rijkaard said Ronaldinho had got over his disappointment at Brazil's poor showing in Germany. The five-time champion lost to France in the quarterfinals.

"What happened to him at the World Cup isn't going to affect Ronaldinho any more. He showed a good attitude but his team couldn't connect with him. That's the only thing which makes the difference between playing well or brilliantly," Rijkaard said.

Ronaldinho, the FIFA world player of the last two years, has scored twice in his opening six league and Champions League games, although this is not his worst start with Barcelona. In each of his first two seasons since he arrived from Paris Saint-Germain in 2003, he had only managed a single goal at the same stage, reports AP.

Despite Ronaldinho's difficulties, Barcelona heads the Spanish league with 13 points from five games its best position at this stage of the season since Rijkaard took charge in 2003. The team lies second in Champions League Group A.

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