Rivaldo to SPORT: Barça Champions League faves, Coutinho, Neymar...

The Brazilian says he would already give the Ballon d'Or to Lionel Messi

El exjugador del FC Barcelona, Rivaldo, posa para SPORT
El exjugador del FC Barcelona, Rivaldo, posa para SPORT | Javi Ferrandiz

Rivaldo spoke with SPORT in an interview organised by Betfair. In the conversation, the former Barcelona player looked ahead to the Champions League semifinals. 

Jordi Delgado (@jdelga12)

The Brazilian believes Barça are the favourites for the competition thanks to the quality of Lionel Messi. They meet Liverpool in the semifinal, with Ajax and Tottenham the other battle in the last four. 

Q: Do you think Barça are a candidate to win the Champions League?

“Yes, of course they are. Barça are always the favourites when they play in the Champions League -- and in any other competition they play in. They're playing really well in Europe. On Tuesday they showed that. The whole team played really well. Messi, as always. is scoring goals and making the difference in attack. They're the favourites for the Champions League." 

Q: How do they have to play to beat Liverpool?

“I think they have to keep playing the same way. I think they're playing well and they have a system, a way of playing and that shouldn't be changed. If they play against Liverpool like they have been, I think any team that plays them would lose. If they play at their best, it's difficult for anyone to beat them."

Q: Who will join them in the final at the Wanda?

“It will be a tough game between Ajax and Tottenham. Ajax are playing really well, they've beaten Juventus, Real Madrid... The other semifinal will be difficult. I only know that Barça, I hope, make the final." 

Q: How do you rate Messi's season? Will he win the Ballon d'Or this year? 

“For me, I would give him the Ballon d'Or today for what he's doing. Everything that he's doing is spectacular: the goals, the big games he steps up in. There's no other player like Messi this season." 

Q: Do you think Ajax defender De Ligt would be a good signing for Barça?

“Yes. Barça always want to sign the best players. When you sign them, they have to play. You can't sign good players that come and don't play. So you have to be careful with the players you sign because they have to play. If not, it's a lot of money to stay on the bench. It's difficult." 

Q: Looking at Barça¡s Brazilians, on Tuesday Coutinho scored a goal but his celebration was a little ugly. What advice would you give him? 

“Coutinho's a player I like a lot and who has to succeed at Barça. He scored a great goal. The [celebration] wasn't so good. In the moment you score a goal and with the criticism he's received... it was the heat of the moment. If you asked him today, he would be more intelligent. They0re things that happen in football and what's important is that he scores goals like that because that way the fans are happy with him." 

Q: Do you see Neymar and Vinicius together at Real Madrid?

“Any player like Neymar that goes to Real Madrid would be good for Spanish football, for Real Madrid, for Neymar and for everyone. And I am sure the fans would love to see them together, but I don't know what's going on with that. I don't know if Madrid are interested of not, if they want to buy Neymar or not. I don't know what will happen, but it would be good for Spanish football.  ”

Q: Neymar was once supposed to be Messi's heir at Barcelona, if not him, who?

“It's difficult to talk about at the moment because there's only one Messi and it's not good to put another player there at this moment in time. Messi still has several seasons in front of him. It's difficult to speak about other players. But, of course, if Neymar came back to Barcelona it would be good because he's a great player and at 27 he could be Messi's successor. But Messi doesn't have Neymar right now and he's making the difference. 

Q: Do you see yourself coaching Barça one day?

“I'm taking my badges but I am still not coaching. If I get my license, you never know what will happen. First I will focus on that and later I will think about what may come in the future."

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