Rivaldo Exclusive: Gabriel Jesus likely to play important role against Real Madrid

  • Rivaldo
  • 4:30 min read
Man City boss Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola is giving Gabriel Jesus many chances in the Champions League

In this week's exclusive column, Rivaldo tells us why Real Madrid aren't done with yet in the Champions League, what the greatest comeback was in the competition's history, and who makes up his 5-a-side team...

"An incredible defender with a great marking efficiency, an excellent technical quality and an enviable experience that made him one of the best defenders ever."

- Rivaldo on Paolo Maldini

Manchester City have a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid after beating them at Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg with a Gabriel Jesus goal. The wonderkid is improving each game in European football, gaining a lot of experience and confidence in one of the biggest leagues in the world and also on the Champions League stage.

Pep Guardiola is presenting him with many chances to play in important matches and the 23-year-old is responding, just like we have seen in the Brazilian national team and at the Copa America where he was pivotal to his country's success.

I have no doubt that Jesus can play an important role in this decisive match against Real Madrid on Friday.

Real Madrid haven't thrown in the towel yet

Despite Man City's advantage over Madrid, I still think that the tie isn't settled. Zidane's team grabbed a lot of confidence at the end of the season winning the La Liga title after a sensational winning run.

Zidane 1280.jpg

Furthermore, the club's history speaks for itself. No one has won more Champions Leagues than Madrid and with the quality and experience of this squad in this competition, I think they will try to reverse the tie in Manchester and qualify for the quarter finals in Portugal. It's not over yet.

20-days Break was important for Barça regroup

Barcelona face Napoli on Saturday and I believe this period of 20 days without competing was good for the team to recapture their focus and forget what's behind them.

This pause was enough to lick some wounds and prepare for this match against a threatening Napoli team that could create difficulties for Barcelona.

As an ex-player I'm supporting Barcelona and hoping that they have a relaxed night, but I'm not envisaging that after a bad La Liga campaign and I'm expecting difficulties against the Italians at Camp Nou. I hope to be wrong, of course.

New Champions League format makes it even tougher to find favourites

As we know, the Champions League is a very tough competition in which we normally can't determine who the favourites are due to each team's high qualities, and if we add the special conditions of this season then it becomes even tougher.

Teams arriving at the matches with different competitiveness levels, matches without fans in the stands, single matches from quarter finals, all this contributes to preventing me from indicating who the clear favourites are this season.

Of course, there are some teams in good form and motivated for earning titles like PSG, Bayern, Juventus, Real Madrid and Manchester City, but I can't indicate one above the others at the moment.

It will be a totally different environment this time and there's no declared favourite even if one team is playing better than the others because there will be single matches and a bad day could send them out of the competition. There will be no second leg to correct potential setbacks.

Liverpool comeback in 2005 Final is memorable

The Champions League has had many memorable comebacks in its history and when I try to remember one it's Liverpool's win against AC Milan in 2005 that comes to my mind.

They were losing 3-0 at halftime and managed to equalise before the 90th minute. Then, their goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek did the rest in the penalty shootout and completed an historic comeback that is regularly remembered by any football fan.


Personally, my biggest comeback at the competition happened when my Barcelona managed to reverse a 3-1 deficit that we brought from Stamford Bridge against Chelsea.

In the second leg, at Camp Nou, we won 3-1 in regular time and I even missed a penalty at the end of the match that could have sealed our qualification. Fortunately, we won in extra time and I had the fortune of scoring our fourth goal before Kluivert made the final score of 5-1.

For more on the greatest UCL comebacks, check out our video...

My Champions League 5-a-side team

Picking just five players I played with in the Champions League isn't easy and many great players will have to be out of my selection.

Starting with the goalkeeper I have to pick Dida from AC Milan. Besides being Brazilian, he was a penalty stopper and was decisive in the final we won against Juventus. In that match, he closed our goal for 120 minutes and then saved some penalties to give us that important title.

At the front, I would pick my teammate at Barcelona Patrick Kluivert. He was an excellent attacker with a nice style of play and I remember making a lot of assists to him, but he also created a lot of goals for me.

He was a complete forward capable of doing a bit of everything, so, in my 5-a-side team I would pick him to recreate our partnership at Barcelona.

In the defence I must include Paolo Maldini. An incredible defender with a great marking efficiency, an excellent technical quality and an enviable experience that made him one of the best defenders ever.

To balance my 5-a-side team I would also pick Pep Guardiola to make the connection between defence and attack. He was a very quick-thinking player who already knew what to do before the ball got to him. He was capable of simplifying things for his teammates so it would be nice to have him on the team.


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