Rivaldo Exclusive: I can't wait to see Barca restart La Liga title race

Barcelona playing behind closed doors
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La Liga is back from Thursday so who better to ask for his thoughts than Betfair Ambassador and Barcelona legend Rivaldo. Here's his take on project restart in Spain and England...

"It’s always a bit difficult after a long break but it’s just a matter of time and, after two or three matches, players will start recovering their fitness and playing rhythm."

I have high hopes about the return of La Liga. I'm happy that a league that I watch regularly, and where I played for many years, is coming back and I believe the players will be pleased to get back to the pitch, even without fans in the stands. They'll be keen to finish the season.

I don't think there will be problems because all players have excellent medical staff working with them and always watching and controlling the situation, so I don't imagine that a big league like La Liga could face problems related to the virus. Players will be able to play and finish the season quietly and let's hope that no one gets coronavirus.

The only concern will be playing behind closed doors as it is a little sad. But this is the current situation and players must focus and try to finish La Liga in the best possible way.

La Liga title battle is between Barça and Real Madrid

Each team has 11 fixtures left to play so there are many points to claim. The title battle will be between Barça and Real as I don't imagine any club coming from behind. It's all very even and open, and any outcome can happen, so it's going to be exciting to watch that fight until the end of the season.

Of course playing with fans is always easier and more exciting, and the players can shine a bit more, but Barcelona is Barcelona, and no matter if you have people in the stands or not, you'll always be a big club with great players. So I think that even without fans, the players can produce great performances. I don't see this absence of fans as a real problem.

Barcelona have everything in place to resume well and claim the title. All the players are missing to play and certainly eager to start competing.

Five substitutions shouldn't affect the big teams

I don't see the five substitutions benefiting some teams over others, as all teams will have that rule changes. Actually, it can be positive for everyone because many players might not be at their best yet, and with all federations looking to end their leagues, it's normal that they allow more substitutions to players a rest. For that reason, managers can change more and manage their squads in an easier way, and I believe there will be no problem.

After all, the bigger clubs have more money and the best players and should not be affected by these changes. It's their obligation to solve the matches from the first minute.

Setien and Zidane.jpg

I disagree with Quique Setien's complaints about the five substitutions because Barcelona has 90 minutes of play and should be prepared to try and win the match from the beginning. They cannot start thinking about the final part of a match and wait for their opponent to get tired. In clubs like Barca or Real Madrid, players must perform at their best from the start.

Finding an excuse on that, just because other opponents have two additional substitutions, and consider that you can be harmed for that reason - it doesn't make sense to me. A squad like Barca or Madrid is much stronger than most of other teams and they can easily decide matches in just 45 minutes as they have tons of talent in their ranks compared to other clubs.

Player will soon get their groove back

It's always a bit difficult after a long break, especially in the first games with players still feeling some tiredness. But it's just a matter of time and, after two or three matches, they'll start recovering their fitness and playing rhythm.

After everything that's happened in the world it's possible that psychologically, as well as physically, the players could not yet be at their best. But they will quickly find their groove and be ready to give their best on the pitch to reach their goals.

The other factor is the climate. It is tougher to play in hot weather but some players will have experience such conditions at international tournaments and they will have to face it. They are dealing with other problems now because of Covid-19 situation, so this is just another thing they have to acknowledge and move forward to help their teams end the season in the best possible form.

Brazilian players shine in the Premier League

I really like English football and love watching the Brazilian players there. I love Lucas Moura and would like to see him having more chances on our national team. I played with him at São Paulo. Firmino is also a great player, Gabriel Jesus at Man City and the Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson.

When Brazilians get to the Premier League it's because they're already well-prepared and ready to shine. It also gives them a great chance to stake their claim for a place in the national team. Any of those players I mentioned just need to give good performances for their clubs and they will be well placed to feature for Brazil at the next Copa America in 2021.

Roberto Firmino 1280 Spurs v Liverpool.JPG

The Premier League is one of the best competitions in the planet, and of course Tite, the Brazil manager, will be watching his players' matches.

First title in 30 years will be huge moment for Liverpool

Liverpool are in a great situation in the Premier League. After 30 years without the title, it would be a very important moment for the club if they can seal it once the English top flight resumes.

The Brazilians Alisson, Fabinho and Firmino have all made big contributions to Liverpool's success and, as a Brazilian, I'm happy for them. But I always like to highlight the whole group and Liverpool's team have been playing very well in the last few years and their manager Jurgen Klopp is excellent. All the players and staff must be congratulated for their achievements and for the way they play.

Spanish La Liga: Spanish La Liga (Winner 2019/20)

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Friday 16 August, 6.00pm

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