Barcelona legend Rivaldo has defended Lionel Messi's performances for the club in recent times. The 47-year old former Brazil international believes that the attacking talisman has been left to do it all himself this season.

Messi had a tough night on Sunday during the El Clasico, when his side lost 0-2 against bitter rivals Real Madrid. Barcelona, as a result, lost their top spot in La Liga. Real Madrid have reclaimed their position as the table leaders. The Catalan team's bad performance also highlighted the problems Messi has been facing while the other key players in the squad are injured.

Rivaldo mentioned that Luis Suarez is a fearless and hard-working player and his club is missing him. He also accepted that whenever Barca loses, people start criticising Messi. According to Rivaldo, the Argentine is the only player in the current Catalan squad to take serious action on the field.

Despite Messi's struggle to find the net on Sunday, Rivaldo said, "He is Barca's match-winner and if he is well defended, their chances of being threatening in the attack are severely reduced. He is the only Barcelona player taking responsibility with the ball, shooting from outside the box and trying to unbalance opposing defenders. No one else in the team seems capable of helping him in that department."

Rivaldo - Mogi Mirim
Rivaldo AFP

Messi is the lone inspiration that Barcelona has at the moment, as his fellow striker Suarez is off the field after undergoing knee surgery in February. The Uruguayan will be out of action until May.

Rivaldo also said that Barcelona loses more often because of Suarez's absence. The Brazilian World champion believes that apart from Messi, only Suarez can surprise their opponents.

Rivaldo's assertion regarding Suarez's importance makes sense. The 33-year-old's absence has been compounded since Ousmane Dembele too, was ruled out of the season because of a hamstring problem. Barcelona is missing the French winger's pace and passes, which otherwise help ease the burden on Messi.