News Matches

‘Barcelona more dependent on Messi & haven’t improved’ – No progress being made under Setien, says Rivaldo

14:47 GMT 29/02/2020
Lionel Messi Barcelona 2019-20
The former Blaugrana star is still waiting for a spark to be found under a new boss and wants to see Martin Braithwaite given more of an opportunity

Barcelona have become even more dependent on Lionel Messi this season and made no progress since Quique Setien inherited the managerial reins from Ernesto Valverde, says Rivaldo.

The reigning La Liga champions find themselves back at the top of the table at present, but only hold a two-point lead over Real Madrid.

The Blaugrana are due to lock horns with their old adversaries again on Sunday in the latest instalment of the fierce Clasico rivalry.

Messi will be expected to deliver inspiration once again at Santiago Bernabeu, with Rivaldo seeing little sign of improvement since a change in the dugout was made at Camp Nou.

The Barca legend told Betfair: “Barcelona will go to the Santiago Bernabeu with a two-point lead over Real Madrid in La Liga.

“But the match won't be decisive in the title race, as we have seen both teams lose points to smaller clubs. It would, though, give Barca a nice cushion and the satisfaction of leaving their old enemy's season in tatters.

“But they are yet to improve under new boss Quique Setien and the team haven't truly found their best form this season. They have great players but they need to be much better in possession. They also need to shoot more from outside the box to surprise their opponents.

“They are playing with a new system which makes them even more dependent on Messi, as he is responsible for making a difference with his dribbling, shooting from outside the area and combining with teammates.

“But as we saw against Napoli in the Champions League this week, Messi is targeted by opponents and if he doesn't show up the team immediately feels it.

“That said, I believe Barca earned an important equaliser at Napoli and taking a 1-1 back to Camp Nou should be enough to help them seal qualification in the second leg.”

Rivaldo believes mismanagement and poor decision making on and off the field has left Barcelona facing uncomfortable questions, with Setien called upon to give emergency striker signing Martin Braithwaite more of a look in after one 18-minute substitute outing so far.

The Brazilian World Cup winner added: “Barca have injuries and suspensions to contend with for their second leg against Napoli. This comes from the club's bad planning after some players left in January and almost no reinforcements arrived.

“Arturo Vidal was sent off at Napoli but a player of his experience should have controlled himself and remembered that referees are less tolerant in the Champions League than in La Liga.

“In the meantime, [Gerard] Pique's possible absence in El Clasico could be a huge blow to Barca. He is a leader on the pitch and responsible for organizing the defence. I believe he will recover in time as he is a fighter always ready to give everything for the club.

“Luis Suarez will be missed by Barca but they should start using his new signing Martin Braithwaite more often.

“You can't sign a 28-year-old forward for 18 million euros to simply stay on the bench and play a few minutes. It's up to the manager to start using him more regularly.”