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Rivaldo Exclusive: El Clasico is chance for Messi to show he still loves Barca

  • Rivaldo
  • 4:00 min read
Lionel Messi and Ronald Koeman
Will Lionel Messi deliver against Real Madrid on Saturday?

Betfair Ambassador Rivaldo demands a big performance from Lionel Messi in this weekend's El Clasico and pays tribute to Pele on his 80th birthday...

"This a chance for Barca to pile pressure on Real Madrid. They're in poor form and have lost their last two matches – both at home- but Barca were beaten last weekend too."

El Clasico on Saturday is the perfect opportunity for Lionel Messi to prove he is still committed to Barcelona.

He had a tough summer, and has not started the season brilliantly, but this is the perfect match to raise his game and prove that he's still an exceptional player. A match-winning display against Madrid would boost his confidence for the remainder of the season.

The match is also a chance for Barca to pile pressure on Real Madrid. They're in poor form and have lost their last two matches - both at home. Mind you, Barca were beaten last weekend in La Liga by Getafe.

I said at the start of the season that Madrid would have an edge over Barcelona after being crowned La Liga champions and having a quiet pre-season. But now Barcelona has the chance to respond by sending Madrid into an unexpected crisis with three consecutive losses.

On the other hand, Real Madrid will approach El Clasico as a chance to put their bad results behind them. Once again we should see a very passionate match, even without fans in the stands.

Zidane must start Vincius

It was strange to see Zinedine Zidane changing his starting 11 a lot for the midweek Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk. He ended up paying for that as Madrid were beaten by the Ukrainians.

Vinicius Junior jumped from the bench to immediately score and give Madrid hope. But it was too late to reverse a three goal deficit.

Setien and Zidane.jpg

Zidane is making a mistake by playing Vinicius off the bench so often. Right now the young Brazilian is the most dangerous player in the Madrid squad. He's proved his quality. He does not need to learn from the bench, but develop on the pitch to become more and more dangerous and influential. Zidane must bring him back to the starting 11 against Barcelona.

Griezmann will be fired-up if he starts

Barcelona are back to winning ways after beating Ferencvaros on Champions League in midweek, but they lost to Getafe in the weekend at La Liga. Francisco Trincao started in Antoine Griezmann's place and he played well, so it'll be interesting to see who Ronald Koeman selects this weekend.

Griezmann is the more experienced player that produced solid seasons with Atlético Madrid and the French national team. He needs to step up at Barca because he's a great player, so I'm sure he is fired up for El Clasico.

Salary cuts threaten harmony in Barça's squad

Almost all Barcelona players have rejected a new salary cut but there were four players who did accept the club's proposal (they included Pique and Ter Stegen).

real-madrid-barcelona.jpg

This may harm the general environment inside the locker-room, as some players may start thinking that those who agreed to the cut are not showing solidarity with the group and only looking out for themselves. This could distrust and disharmony in the squad.

'Figo Clasico' was one of fiercest ever

Luis Figo is a great friend of mine but 20 years-ago he was the subject of one of the most controversial transfers of all time when he moved from Barcelona to Real Madrid.

I don't believe Figo thought that transfer would be completed, but Madrid president Florentino Perez promised in his election campaign that he would bring my friend to the Bernabeu. Perez would not give up on signing Figo.

With agents involved in the negotiations, Figo ended up having no alternative but to make the move. A few months later he was playing at Camp Nou against Barca and Blaugrana fans were so angry.

I played in that match, and I can say it wasn't easy for Figo to deal with all that, but this is part of football. I lived something similar, although on a smaller scale, when I was about to leave Deportivo La Coruña for Barca.

I played in a pre-season match for Deportivo, when the press was already saying that I had signed an agreement with Barcelona, so lots of fans were booing me and throwing coins at me. They called me 'Pesetero'.

Happy Birthday Pelé - the greatest fooballer

Pelé is celebrating his 80th birthday today and he remains an unparalleled player who scored more than 1,000 goals and won three World Cups.

In Brazil, Pelé is our trademark in football, and I cannot imagine any other player who could get close to rivalling him after all that he achieved in football.

It was a great honour and responsibility for me to wear the Brazilian number 10 shirt that he once wore. I scored eight World Cup goals in it and won 2002 World Cup, so I didn't do too badly. I'm proud of wearing the shirt that once belonged to the best football player ever.

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