Rivaldo Exclusive: Champions League to start with a bang in Paris and Munich

  • Rivaldo
  • 4:30 min read
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - last time Utd went to PSG

Betfair Ambassador Rivaldo looks forward to next week's Champions League action, praises James Rodriguez for showing there's life after Madrid and defends Neymar against diving allegations...

"The Colombian attacker is shooting the lights out in England with Everton and I wouldn’t be surprised if Isco decided to make a similar move in the near future."

The Champions League will start next week with some great matches, including Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester United and the holders Bayern Munich against Atletico Madrid.

It's always nice to see this great competition kicking-off but these matches, and others in round one, make it even more exciting.

The best clubs in the world will start their Champions League campaigns this week. Their matches will show who is starting strongly and could give us clues about who will succeed this season, although of course it's after Christmas that the competition really gets going with the knockout stages.

I loved playing in the Champions League for Barcelona and AC Milan, so I'm sure that all the players are very happy about the beginning of the best club competition on the planet.

Isco could follow James Rodriguez to England

Real Madrid's Isco has had great days at the club and was an important member of the squad for a lot of time. But it's not happening for him at the Bernabeu any longer, so he might look to James Rodriguez's situation as a good example of how to successfully move on.

The Colombian attacker is shooting the lights out in England with Everton and I wouldn't be surprised if Isco decided to make a similar move in the near future.

Isco is watching James and knows he's very happy with his decision to leaving Madrid for a club where he had the chance to be a regular starter and finally get back to his best form. Isco may consider something similar if he keeps being overlooked by Zinedine Zidane.

Messi could be tired on La Liga return

Barcelona will return to action this Saturday at Getafe but Lionel Messi may be a little tired after his efforts for Argentina in this week's World Cup qualifiers, especially as he played at high altitude at Bolivia.

It's not only a problem for Messi as many other players had to deal with it recently. But Messi should discuss with Ronald Koeman and the Barca doctors how to conserve his energy. I believe he wants to play this weekend, just like I did in similar situations during my career, so the decision could be more in Messi's hands than anyone else. If he decides to play it will be difficult to stop him.

Messi looks unhappy 956.jpg

In a early phase of the season, however, it's important to avoid unnecessary injuries and that might mean sometimes he needs to rest. He could start on the bench but I'm sure that Messi will be determined to start, as he always wants to be out there.

Griezmann needs to gain confidence

Antoine Griezmann is an excellent player who is just lacking confidence at the moment. I believe he's good enough to play for Barcelona and I don't think he's playing in the wrong position.

For France, he's been playing for the same coach and in the same system for years. At Atleti, where he was the star player for several seasons, he was used to the club and the coach. Griezmann only needs time at Barcelona and then he can produce his best football again.

Salary cut will cause anger at Barcelona

Barça's board is considering imposing a 30% salary cut at the club, including the first team, and that will receive no support from the players, as they have contracts and commitments.

I have many doubts that club and players will reach agreement about this. But we all know that things are tough for everybody now. Let's wait and see, but if this goes forward it might create problems within the squad.

Neymar still suffering from bad reputation

Neymar was criticized by some international press again after allegedly simulating to win a penalty in Brazil's victory in Peru.

Winning penalties is part of football and sometimes you must be a little smart in that kind of situation. In this case, Neymar took advantage of the situation after being pulled.

This happens in every match all over the world, so I believe this only proved controversial because it was Neymar who already has a bad reputation for this kind of thing.

The most important thing was the hat-trick he scored for Brazil in Peru and he must be congratulated for that. He's been playing very well since last season.

Neymar has now surpassed Ronaldo Nazário has Brazil's second best goal scorer of all time, just behind the great Pelé.

Brazil have show their quality straight away in their qualifiers for Qatar 2022. They have achieved two victories out of two and I'm confident that, along with Argentina, they will comfortably qualify for the World Cup.

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