Rivaldo Exclusive: Barca to bounce back but Madrid could suffer at Sevilla
In his latest exclusive column, Rivaldo says Barcelona will bounce back from their shock draw with Girona, warns that Sergio Ramos and Real Madrid might be in for a tough time at Sevilla, and looks at why heat issues are being addressed in La Liga...
"I believe Madrid will face many difficulties at Sevilla (Sevilla [4.3], Real Madrid [1.83], the Draw [4.3]) and the home team has a good chance to claim a draw or even a win in front of their own fans."
Solid Barca to give immediate response
The draw against Girona last weekend led to some criticism about Barcelona's defence, but I think it was one of those things, the kind of stuff that happens in football. Sometimes, your opponent plays efficiently and grabs goals, but I'm not concerned about it and things will quickly get back to normal.
I think it's unfair to say bad things about Barca's defence, as it probably is one of the best in the world.
The match against Girona was a perfect example of that, with their opponents scoring efficiently, and Barça needing to react with 10 players, they showed their quality and pressed the opponent and eventually got the equaliser that earned them a draw.
Valverde's work cannot be criticised
Ernesto Valverde is doing good work in Catalonia. With an excellent structure and players - when you have the best it becomes easier - and an organised team I think he is looking the part.
Of course, the unsuccessful Champions League campaign last season wasn't good, but I believe he is doing a good job and is justifying a contract renewal.
It's never easy to win a Champions League but he succeeded at La Liga and Copa del Rey, so perhaps this season he could be luckier in Europe's elite club competition and end up winning the most important trophy of all.
This Wednesday they play against the worst team in La Liga so far, Leganés, and they should not have any problems in this match (Barcelona are [1.29] on the Exchange to win). When you are leading the competition and face weak opposition you are almost forced to win, and I expect a comfortable victory.
Real Madrid and Ramos in for a big test at Sevilla
Fans always play their part in provoking key players such as Sergio Ramos who has previously played for Sevilla and has had problems on their most recent trips to Sanchez Pizjuan. He is certainly going to be provoked by Sevilla fans again, who will try to to put him under pressure and test his mentality in an attempt to destabilise him and Real Madrid - but he is an experienced player and I don't think Madrid will lose the game because of him.
I'm anticipating a great match and a big test for Real Madrid who are coming off an important home win against Espanyol. I believe Madrid will face many difficulties at Sevilla (Sevilla [4.3], Real Madrid [1.83], the Draw [4.3]) and the home team has a good chance to claim a draw or even a win in front of their own fans.
Vinicius Junior was called into the squad by Julen Lopetegui for Espanyol's match this weekend but ended up in the stands and of course he cannot be happy with that, but his opportunity will arrive soon or later. He must respect the way Madrid are preparing him, playing him in the reserves. I don't necessarily agree with it, he is going to be the same player that was playing at Flamengo and it won't be a year playing at Castilla to change that fact.
It won't help him to be a better player and I consider him playing in the reserves more like a way of Madrid showing him that they are helping the player to evolve and adapt to European football, but honestly, I don't see it helping or hampering his evolution as a player. Real Madrid knows he has the ability to play in the first team, but with their squad depth maybe they are protecting the youngsters. Anyway, his moment is about to come soon.
Players and fans must be protected from high heat
You must always pay attention to the human factor of football and avoid scheduling matches in high heat times.
Every one should respect that football is a sport where the players run a lot and the heat might affect their performance as well as their health. Fans can also suffer with that, so it's normal that the La Liga president is being questioned about it by the Spanish Federation.
It's important to preview and reschedule if necessary in these cases of extreme heat and try to pick a better time that does not put players and fans health in question, as that would end up also being bad for La Liga as the quality of the games would decrease therefore.