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Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Ranieri tips Cassano for success with Real Madrid

MADRID, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Former Valencia and Chelsea coach Claudio Ranieri believes that Real Madrid have got themselves a bargain in new signing Antonio Cassano but that the club will be unable to catch in-form Barcelona in the league.

'He's fantastic, he's a phenomenon who controls the ball like the great players,' the Italian was quoted as saying in sports daily Marca on Tuesday.

'He knows how to do everything and isn't the controversial character that people think. He will do a really good job at Real Madrid.'

Cassano signed for Real from AS Roma for a reported fee of 5.5 million euros ($6.65 million) last week but has had to undergo a special training programme in order to regain his fitness after suffering a thigh strain while at the Serie A club.

With both Raul and Ronaldo out injured Real have struggled to score goals in recent games and are 13 points behind arch-rivals and league leaders Barcelona in sixth place in the Primera Liga.

Ranieri said that the nine-times European champions faced an almost impossible task to catch the Catalans in the league.

'I'm not surprised at the position that Real find themselves in because these things go in cycles and they spent many years at the top,' he said. 'But it is also because Barcelona are so strong at the moment.

'Barcelona are playing the best football in Europe at the moment. They have everything needed to become the next dream team.'




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