Juan Roman Riquelme Talks Barcelona, River Plate, FIFA Club World Cup and More

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2015

BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 28:  Neymar (C) of FC Barcelona celebrates with his teammates Luis Suarez (L) and Lionel Messi of FC Barcelonaa after scoring his team's third goal of FC Barcelonaduring the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad de Futbol at Camp Nou on November 28, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Former Barcelona player Juan Roman Riquelme believes the Blaugrana could be defeated at the Club World Cup by iconic Argentinian side River Plate

The Boca Juniors legend told TyC Sports (h/t FourFourTwo) the bitter rivals from Buenos Aires have the capability to cause a shock against the Camp Nou giants:

It's impossible to know how to play against [Barcelona].

I have absolutely no idea how River should play against Barcelona, but I think Argentinean footballers always give something more in these types of games.

Can they win? Of course they can. It's only one game, but everyone knows how complicated it will be.

For the River players it's a unique opportunity. It's a final, I'm going to watch it and I'm going to enjoy it.

CESAR RANGEL/Associated Press

River Plate qualified for the competition in Japan after beating Mexican club UANL to win the 2015 Copa Libertadores, and they are favourites to meet Barca in the final match, according to FourFourTwo.

Riquelme had success on the world stage with Boca, defeating Real Madrid in 2000 to capture the Intercontinental Cup, upsetting the odds against the Galacticos. 

The former mercurial attacking midfielder, who represented Barca for three seasons, highlighted the threat of the club's MSN trinity of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar and the depth of the treble winners, per FourFourTwo:

"They [Barcelona] have the three best players in the world in their position; [Gerard] Pique as centre-back, [Sergio] Busquets as defensive midfielder and [Andres] Iniesta as central midfielder."

Andre Penner/Associated Press

Beginning on Sunday, the tournament sees River enter at the semi-final stage on Wednesday, with Barca playing the following day. The Argentinians will face off against either Sanfrecce Hiroshima or TP Mazembe, as the Blaugrana tackle the winner of America vs. Guangzhou Evergrande.

River player Leonel Vangioni told FIFA.com the club's fans are desperate to be crowned world champions: "Since we won the Libertadores lots of people have been telling me that it doesn’t matter if we win the league or the Copa Sudamericana; what they really want is the Club World Cup. Wherever we went the first thing they spoke about was Japan."

Ivan Fernandez/Associated Press

As one of the continent's superpowers, the club pose a serious threat to Barca's ambitions. 

If the MSN trinity show up in full force, it will be near impossible for River to cope, but their fighting spirit and depth of quality give them a puncher's chance of laying the knockout on Barca's chin. 


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