Rivaldo has offered his thoughts on where it’s all gone wrong for Barcelona this season after the Catalan giants lost control of the title race.
Quique Setien’s side resumed their La Liga campaign in June with a two-point lead over Real Madrid but have stuttered since the restart and are now a point behind Los Blancos and have played a game extra.
There has been plenty of focus on VAR in La Liga since the restart, but Rivaldo wrote in his Betfair column that Barcelona simply can’t blame the technology for their current predicament.
“In my opinion, Barça’s problem isn’t VAR or any refereeing decisions, their main problem is the quality of their football that needs to improve and become again that style of play that everybody loves to see around the world.
“The team was leading La Liga before the lockdown and now is four points behind Madrid, so you can’t say VAR is the main reason for that, especially when the team is not playing well.
“Barca’s team spirit was affected by the lockdown, some of their players aren’t in peak condition and playing without fans has removed some of the emotion from their play. But Real Madrid managed to find their rhythm right away and took advantage of that.”
Barcelona stumbled to a 1-0 win over bottom side Espanyol on Wednesday night that cut the gap to Real Madrid to a point. However, Zinedine Zidane’s side can restore their four-point advantage on Friday with victory over Alaves.
Suarez Hoping Real Madrid Slip-Up
Luis Suarez was Barcelona’s match-winner against Espanyol. The Uruguay international struck the only goal of the game in the second half to secure a much-needed victory for Setien’s men at the Camp Nou.
After the game, he urged his team to win their remaining three games and be in the right place in case Real Madrid do slip-up during the run-in.
“What we have to do is win our next three games. Whatever Madrid do is up to them. If the rival drops points then fantastic, we have to think about being there if they do.
“We knew it was going to be difficult. We knew their situation. We have to be aware of the fact that we put in a great performance on Sunday and were still feeling the consequences of that physically. The important thing is to win and to get three more points.”
Barcelona return to action on Saturday away at Real Valladolid. Setien’s side then finish off their 2019-20 campaign with games against Osasuna at home and Alaves away.
Rivaldo Worried About Champions League
If Barcelona do fail to retain their league title they can seek consolation in the Champions League which resumes in August. Barcelona drew 1-1 with Napoli in the first leg of their last-16 match and are in good shape to progress to the quarter-finals.
The game will be played behind closed doors either at the Camp Nou or at a neutral venue, and Rivaldo fears that could help the Italian team.
“Barcelona have won the last two La Liga titles and it’s their Champions League campaign that concerns me most now. The team still must face Napoli at Camp Nou in the last-16 second leg, and without fans in the stadium the Italians might have a chance, especially as they are playing well now.”
The winners of the game will progress to a “final eight” tournament in Portugal in August. The draw for the competition is due to be made on Friday.