Rivaldo Exclusive: Messi was sensational in win against Tottenham
Rivaldo reviews Barcelona's stunning win over Tottenham, Real Madrid's defeat to CSKA and thinks one Barca player could be the new Xavi...
"Xavi was prolific in ball control, passing and is an idol for Barcelona fans, and Arthur could be closest in terms of replacing him."
We all know that Lionel Messi is one of a kind and much of Barcelona's success is dependent on how he plays. In the three matches before the 4-2 victory against Tottenham, he wasn't his usual self and Barca ended up suffering, he turned it around with that spectacular win at Wembley.
It wasn't just Messi, but the whole team played at their best, and that's what fans want. They were very focused and organised in their pressing and it played out perfectly.
I've seen a pretty focused Lionel Messi. He claimed responsibility to respond to the recent critics to him and the team after that winless streak. I think Messi said "Enough. It's time to be a leader and make the difference in the game." And he did by scoring two goals and making key passes but it was a team effort too.
Artur could become Xavi's successor
Arthur was also very good against Tottenham, playing quickly and efficiently - a typical characteristic of Xavi - always passing the ball correctly and without stopping play. The more rhythm and confidence he gets, the better he will become and I'm certain that he will end up being a regular starter for Barcelona.
Xavi was prolific in ball control, passing and is an idol for Barcelona fans, and Arthur could be closest in terms of replacing him.
Defence shouldn't be that much of a worry
It's always better to avoid conceding, but Barcelona faced a strong team. Tottenham showed their willingness to win and in doing that they scored twice. The second goal was a bit unfortunate for Barca as it was deflected.
Ernesto Valverde may have to correct a few defensive tactics, but I don't think that current issues are so problematic that he needs to completely remodel his defence.
Keep the momentum up at Mestalla
It´s always tough to play against Valencia, especially at Mestalla. Anyway, if Barcelona manage to replicate their masterpiece at Wembley they'll win this game comfortably.
Players must keep focused and mark their man properly. With Messi back on form it'll be tough to stop him. Luis Suárez needs some luck, as he is playing well but isn't hitting the net, and this could be the perfect venue for the Uruguayan attacker to return to what he does best: scoring goals.
I think Barcelona will get three points at Valencia, winning 2-1.
Real Madrid haven't lost anything yet
When Real Madrid aren't getting the results they want, it will always bring out the doubts of Cristiano Ronaldo's departure. At the beginning of the season it wasn't a topic of discussion but now they are on a bad run of form and in some games not even scoring, it's the obvious question to bring up.
No one can deny Ronaldo's importance for the team as he used to score in almost every game, but I believe this is just a difficult phase for the club as things aren't going as expected. Anyway, Real Madrid must shape up quickly because there is nothing lost, not just yet...
They must break out of this bad run soon or they'll see more criticism and pressure will start to build on them, as well as Ronaldo's depature being questioned.
The team has a good squad and some players are asking for first team opportunities like Vinicius Junior, but that will always the manager's decision. I think Madrid only needs a bit of luck and I don't feel they need to buy any big players on the next transfer window.
Regarding their Champions League campaign, even after losing to CSKA, Real Madrid continue to be favourites, but the weight of their recent form could be deflating, as they are seen vulnerable by their rivals. They are the club with the most titles in this competition and I'm sure when they're back to winning ways, this blip will be forgotten.
Important match at Alaves
Alavés won't be an easy task for Madrid this weekend, but they should win, especially after losing in the week. They know that only a victory will ease the pressure for them. For that reason, I'm predicting a win for Lopetegui's side this Saturday.
Back Real Madrid to beat Alaves @ [1.43]