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Monday, April 2, 2007

Romans crank up pressure!

Roma stars Amantino Mancini and Christian Panucci have added coals to the fire of Wednesday's Champions League quarter final against Manchester United by branding Cristiano Ronaldo a 'diver'.

Brazilian Mancini, himself blessed with fantastic dribbling skills, has warned the Portuguese flyer that he will face tougher defenders than he is used to when the two sides meet at Rome's Stadio Olimpico, and that any showboating will be met with disdain.

Mancini said: "Ronaldo is almost perfect in the art of dribbling but the Italian defenders are harder than anywhere else and he will be taking a big risk if he ties any exhibition stuff.

"I've watched Premier League matches and he is protected by the referees. I don't think he will be on Wednesday."

Ronaldo has already been on the receiving end of some stark warnings of late, most notably from Belgium goalkeeper Stijn Stijnen who predicted the youngster would leave the field of play on a stretcher during a Euro 2008 qualifier last weekend.

But the 22-year-old seems to feed off such adversity and he has displayed a knack for nonchalantly shrugging off such threats; he scored twice against Belgium as Portugal won 4-0.

Such ability leaves Roma defender Panucci in no doubt as to just how dangerous the hot tip for this season's Player of the Year award is, although the former Chelsea player has urged the referee to stand up to Ronaldo's perceived penchant for over-simulation.

"Ronaldo's class is unquestionable," the Italy international said. "But I believe he abuses his dribbling talents and always exaggerates his falls. A lot will depend on the referee in Roma.

"Ronaldo will not be daring enough to do it because he knows we will not fall for his tricks."