Rivaldo: "I haven't see any improvement at Barça since Setién's arrival"
“Barcelona's dependency on Messi is enormous. If they stop him, the team blocks up. It's difficult to make up a squad list and that's down to poor planning by the club”.
FC Barcelona legend and Betfair ambassador Rivaldo says he is concerned by how the team has been playing with Sunday's Clásico against Real Madrid looming. “Honestly, after watching Barcelona's last few games, I haven't seen any improvement since they sacked Valverde brought Setién in. The team is capable of playing much better because they have great players. And their possession of the ball isn't consistent”, Rivaldo told Betfair.
“With Setién at the helm they're playing out from the back, taking risks- something that Real Madrid and Manchester City do. But the really worrying thing about FC Barcelona is the absence of players who are willing to have a shot on goal from outside of the area which can surprise opponents. The team are trying to score goals only from inside the penalty area”.
Barcelona depend on Messi too much
For all of their shortcomings, Barça are more reliant on Leo Messi than ever, says Rivaldo. “Of course he is much more important to the team now. Now the dependency Barça have on Messi is enormous. And it really shows, because rival teams plough all of their energy into trying to stop him and as soon as he has an off day, the whole team immediately blocks up,” he explained.
Depending on Messi isn't the only concern, the Brazilian continued. “All of the current problems are a result of poor planning by the club which came to a head in January with several players leaving and no one coming in to replace them. Now Barcelona are paying the price and they are struggling to draw up a full squad list. All of that isn't good for the club's image, and it's not very nice for the coaching staff and squad to deal with”.
“No point signing Braithwaite if he doesn't play”
As for Martin Braithwaite, who was brought in to strengthen an attack deprived of Ousmane Dembélé and Luis Suárez, Rivaldo said, “Setién has to play Braithwaite regularly. You don't sign a player who is 29 years old for 18 million euros to let him fester on the bench and bring him on for a few minutes. Barcelona were granted permission to sign someone because they were left with no options in attack, so it would make no sense at all not to use him”.
“Barcelona miss Suárez more than Madrid miss Hazard”
As for Sunday's Clásico, Rivaldo feels that Luis Suárez's absence will weigh heavier on Barcelona than Real Madrid being unable to count on Eden Hazard. “Firstly, because there is no replacement for Suárez within the squad right now. With Hazard, I don't think Real Madrid will miss him as much because he hasn't been a player who makes a difference to the team and he still hasn't fully adapted,” Rivaldo said, before concluding, “Barcelona go into the game stronger in terms of form and they will be more relaxed than Real Madrid, who will still be hurting after losing to Manchester City. It was a mistake to take Vinicius off when they were leading because he was taking the game to City, getting the ball inside their area and taking some of the pressure off Real Madrid's defence. Since Cristiano Ronaldo left, Madrid have lost some of their punching power in attack and that's one of their principal problems - especially now that Benzema seems to have lost the inertia he had at the start of the season. Barça can turn to Messi to resolve their problems and that is crucial in games like this”.