FC Barcelona legend, Rivaldo, has been giving his opinion on this current crop of Barça players, as well as sharing some thoughts on how he expects Saturday’s Champions League final to play out. Talking to Sport, the Brazilian, who currently plays his football with Sao Paulo FC in Brazil, has once again heaped praise on the abilities of Lionel Messi, whilst also sharing some insights into the nature of his one time team-mate and current Barça coach Pep Guardiola. You can read the full translated interview below.
How does it feel to see the club now?
I have never seen a team that arouses such admiration. I am proud because when they speak of people they always remember that there was Rivaldo. Too bad I can not play now. This team is superior.
In what way?
Mainly in their rapport. It is born from the hand of the coach. Barça plays like Guardiola played, one or two touches. Pep is a fundamental factor. But without Pep they would hardly play this way.
What about Van Gaal in his day?
I can not compare them. They are different. Van Gaal is, and was, a great coach, but Guardiola is a coach who recently stopped playing and still knows what the players think. He was born there, he knows how the club thinks and has the advantage of knowing many players in the team.
What did Pep bring to your team?
He played simply, doesn’t lose the ball and this is the result of training. Guardiola works very much on passing. He was preparing well before receiving the ball and he knew what to do. It’s this that he has transmitted.
How do you think Guardiola is in the dressing room?
By being a good person, I’m sure that the group plays for him and wants to win and follow Guardiola. If it was a different coach they’re unlikely to be able to do the same job. He is a friend, who participates, who talks as a player-coach. He can teach the group because he has a great history with the club because he was an idol as a player.
Is this Barça one of the best teams in history?
To me, the best. I have never seen so much talk about a club like Barcelona today. I have never seen a team play this way.
What’s so special?
Watching them, you learn to play. Football is not dribbling three or four rivals, or to be an individualist. It is about the team. Barça are giving an example of how to play like this. Whoever has the ball. Their rivals leave the field dead but Barça could play two games in a row because they play so simply.
And where would Rivaldo play in this team?
Seeing them gives me nostalgia for being younger. It’s hard to tell for me because the team is so strong but if I was at Barça now with Guardiola and with everything I know, sure I’d look for a position to settle in to.
Would it be compatible with Messi?
(Smiles). For my part, yes. Anyone would like to play at his side. As I said before the last World Cup, he will be five or six times crowned the best player in the world. If he stays the same and with that same humility he will be remembered alongside Pele, Maradona and someone else.
Humility is a key to success?
I know Xavi, Puyol, Iniesta, Valdes, and I’ve talked to others and what this team has is humility. These players do not believe in only themselves, everyone is looking to their teammate, no envy, no jealousy. Of course we speak more of Messi than anyone, but behind him is all of Barcelona.
Why do you think they have not lost the hunger for titles?
It is the fruit of humility. A player who wants to make history can not stop after a great conquest. It’s nice to see this group of players. But if there is no change it will be difficult for the poor phase to come in the next three years.
How do you envision the final?
You never know. Manchester United has a long tradition and has already won the Champions League, but I think the favourite is Barcelona. They can have a bad day, but if things go well and they play like they have been doing they are going to be champions.
Who you choose as a hero at Wembley?
I always like to look at the whole, but if there is a person who deserves to be the hero, I wish it to be Xavi. He is the head of the team, he takes responsibility and reassures others. Or Puyol, who is also a great guy.