‘Barca can win the double’

Jean-Pierre Papin believes Barcelona are strong enough to win both the Champions League and La Liga, thanks to their front three.

The former France international, now a television commentator, has spoken to AS ahead of the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final with Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca lead 3-1 from the first leg in Paris, Luis Suarez claiming a brace after Neymar opened the scoring, and Papin has suggested there is no team that can stop the Catalans.

“They’re a bomb. I think they can win the Champions League and La Liga. They have a golden front three,” he said.

“Suarez in Parc des Princes did something crazy. In the first half he did what the team needed and in 20 minutes he settled the match.

“Lionel Messi is on another level. If you don’t want to play, you walk, but if you’re motivated, you fly. And we saw with Neymar, if you give him space, he takes advantage of it.

“I see Real Madrid a little weaker than last season, really. They have great players, exceptional, but their lives are more complicated than that of Barcelona.

“Suarez isn’t weighed down by his transfer fee. I remember when I joined Milan, it was the most expensive transfer in history. People talked about it, but a forward at that level is above such things.

“What happened to Suarez [during his four-month suspension] is that he lost his spontaneity, his points of reference, and so on, and that certainly isn’t easy to recover. He also started playing wide, and had to get acclimated to everything.”

Papin was also asked about an old teammate, former Barca Coach Frank Rijkaard, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and Spanish football in general.

“I wasn’t surprised Rijkaard was a good Coach, no. He loves football more than many things and he was always ready to learn as much as possible,” Papin recalled of his old Milan colleague.

“His background is a bit like Didier Deschamps, the France Coach. Both played in midfield and I think they take from that they’re ability to find solutions.

“Messi and Cristiano? They’re unique. They’re realising something spectacular. They’re destroying the forward position. They’re brutal.

“They start from far away and often score after combining and entering the penalty area. It’s clear where they are and the rest are still there, but they have ability from very far away. They don’t have a reference point. They’re the goals of their teams.

“Spanish football is one of my weaknesses. It was always a battle between Barca and Madrid. Atletico snuck in and overtook Valencia and Sevilla. All this makes me pay attention.

“I understand what’s happened to the Spain team. It’s like with a club – there are cycles.

“Time passes for everyone and players get older. It’s difficult to renew groups because the quality isn’t the same and there’s time to adapt needed. But I’m not worried about the future of the team.”

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