'Barcelona's problem isn't VAR, it's a lack of quality' - Rivaldo dismisses Bartomeu's claims of bias towards Real Madrid

Josep Bartomeu, Real Madrid Barcelona
The ex-Blaugrana star has expressed his belief that the club's president is trying "to distract the media" from problems behind the scenes at Camp Nou

Rivaldo has dismissed Josep Maria Bartomeu's claims of La Liga bias towards Real Madrid, insisting Barcelona's "problem isn't VAR", but rather a lack of "quality".

Barcelona have surrendered the initiative in the title race since the resumption of the Spanish football season on June 10. Quique Setien's men have drawn three of their last eight fixtures, while Madrid have won seven out of seven to leapfrog their arch-rivals at the top of the table.

Real hold a one-point lead over Barca at the moment, but they can increase their advantage if they beat Alaves at Santiago Bernabeu on Friday.

The Blaugrana bounced back from a 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid to win their last two fixtures against Villarreal and Espanyol, but their fate is no longer in their own hands.

After Barca's 4-1 victory at El Madrigal on Sunday, club president Bartomeu expressed his belief that video technology has favoured Madrid over the last few weeks.

He told reporters post-match: "I feel bad because we have the best league in the world and VAR after coronavirus isn't fair."

However, Rivaldo does not believe that Madrid have benefited from an unfair advantage when it comes to refereeing decisions, and he thinks that Bartomeu is trying to draw attention away from issues behind the scenes at Camp Nou.

The former Barca forward told Betfair: "Sometimes you have the right to feel upset about refereeing or VAR decisions but I do not agree with Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu's claims that there is a bias towards Madrid. Bartomeu is simply trying to distract the media from his club's problems.

"Barcelona are still fighting for the Liga title, and they're still in the Champions League, but this is not a good moment for the club. Bartomeu is trying to use stuff like VAR to justify himself to the fans and pretend that his club's difficulties aren't the fault of himself, the players or the manager.

"In my opinion, Barca'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."

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Rivaldo added on the Blaugrana's unconvincing 1-0 win against Espanyol on Wednesday: "Barcelona beat Espanyol in the Catalan derby, but I expected a much better match performance from Quique Setien's team.

"It was a disappointing step backwards after they'd played so well in beating Villarreal on Sunday. It leaves me worried because Real Madrid aren't slipping up in the title race.

"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."