Rivaldo Exclusive: Closed doors could harm Barcelona when La Liga returns

Lionel Messi playing for Barcelona
Will Lionel Messi perform without fans to cheer him on?

Betfair Ambassador Rivaldo says Barca's La Liga campaign could suffer if games are played behind closed doors and encourages his compatriot Allan to join Everton...

"Playing without fans is a totally different experience for the players and tends to benefit the visitors, but a team that wants to be crowned champion must adapt to the difficulties."

It seems likely that La Liga will resume at the start of June and many players are already preparing to start training again with their teams. All of the matches should be played behind closed doors without any fans in the stands.

Barcelona have 13 wins and just one draw against Real Madrid in their home matches in La Liga, so the Barca obviously benefit from playing in front of their fans. It might turn out to be bad for the club to play in an empty Camp Nou in their quest for another Spanish title.

Playing without fans is a totally different experience for the players and tends to benefit the visitors, but a team that wants to be crowned champion must adapt to the difficulties. After all, the other clubs will have the same handicap in their home games.

Physical recovery could be key and make differences

At a time in which most of the European leagues are seriously considering their returns it's normal that the players have concerns about it, especially about their physical conditions.

After almost two months training at home without the best conditions many of them need some time to recover their best form. If the leagues don't give them enough time, some players might have problems to get back to their usual football immediately.

In those circumstances, it's probable that some players will reach their peak level earlier than others and that might play an important role in this final section of the season. There's nothing players and clubs can do about that except work to adapt quickly and efficiently before competition resumes.


Another question that will certainly be on players' minds is their health - as Sergio Augero said when he expressed concerns - because many countries are still battling against a strong virus. I believe that all clubs have good medical staff and rules will be in place to eliminate almost any risk to the players.

I believe that players will be frequently tested for Covid-19 and will not be susceptible to considerable social contact. Yep, there is not a vaccine yet, and the players may be a little nervous about it, but they should have all the care needed and all should be fine.

Small squad could make things tougher for Quique Setien

Barcelona decided to sell some players in the last transfer window and, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembélé's both injured, the club has a fairly small squad. That could prove to be a problem when they face a busy schedule in the next few months, with at least two matches per week.

But this is a special situation that no one could envisage a few months ago, so Barça's manager must manage his squad carefully in this decisive phase of the season and probably appeal to some young players from La Masia if needed.

This will create problems to Quique Setien, but I'm convinced that Barça has quality in their academy and excellent players in the first team. Despite the predictable difficulties they face, I still think Barcelona has the qualities to retain their Spanish title.

Courtois comments are normal

Real Madrid Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has said in an interview that it would be unfair to crown Barcelona as champions before the end of the season as Madrid haven't lost any games against Barca this season and even won one of them in La Liga.

Those are perfectly normal comments for me, coming from a player fighting for the Spanish title and who knows that in normal circumstances there will be many more matches to play until the end of season and time to reverse their current two-point deficit.

There's no team looking to climb places in the table that wouldn't feel bad if the season ended earlier than expected. So there is no problem with Courtois expressing his opinion. The best case scenario is that the clubs will be able to finish the season and the new champions will be crowned then.


In France's Ligue 1 they decided to award PSG with another title, but the club was way ahead in the table and it would have been almost impossible for them to lose the title. That was an easy decision. In the Netherlands' Eredivisie things were tougher because there was a fight at the top of the table and the league preferred to cancel the season without crowning a champion.

These are always tough situations to make. I believe that, if the authorities have the pandemic under control and authorize matches it will be much better to play the rest of the season to keep the sport's integrity intact. But first, of course you must ensure that there will be no danger in going forward with the matches.

Allan should take advantage of Carlo Ancelotti's confidence

Brazilian defensive midfielder Allan is being linked with a potential move to Everton after making a good impact in Italy with Napoli. Carlo Ancelotti, who managed him at Napoli, wants to work with him again in the Premier League. I think Allan should take this chance to play in what is, for me, the best league in the world.

He is a good player who might be useful for Everton. The move would also give him more visibility as he tries to get some more selections for the national team ahead of the Copa America in 2021 and World Cup in 2022.

Having the confidence of Ancelotti is something to be proud of and I'm sure Allan will take this chance of jumping to a more competitive league if the clubs can reach an agreement.

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