Fired Barcelona coach takes blame

SUN WIRE SERVICES

, Last Updated: 8:12 AM ET

Fired FC Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard says he is to blame for the team's poor form, not club president Joan Laporta or his players.

"I assume my responsibility and that's natural," Rijkaard was quoted as saying by news agency Europa Press yesterday.

The Dutchman was speaking publicly for the first time since Barcelona announced Thursday he would be dismissed at the end of the season after five years in charge. His replacement will be reserve team coach Pep Guardiola.

RONALDO SET TO SHINE

Cristiano Ronaldo has been mesmerizing defenders all season with his high-speed stepovers, dribbling skills and scoring touch with Manchester United.

At next month's European Championship in Austria and Switzerland, the Portugal winger will get a chance to showcase his skill to an even wider audience and prove to many that he is the world's best player.

"How have I become the best player in the world? Let's just take it season by season," said Ronaldo, who already has collected two English player of the year awards and likely will be up against Brazil's Kaka and Argentina's Lionel Messi for the FIFA equivalent near the end of the year. "It's because I've always been good, always worked a lot. Tried to improve every day."

REAL TO PLAY FRIENDLY

Spanish champion Real Madrid will play Al Nasr in a friendly in Saudi Arabia.

The game in Riyadh on May 20 will honour the Saudi team's international striker Majed Abdullah, a three-time Asian player of the year who now has retired.


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