Lionel Messi was at his mesmerising best as he returned from illness to inspire Barcelona to a routine 2-0 win over Scottish champions Celtic. The Argentine maestro was in supreme form grabbing a double and causing problems throughout the match.
The brace took Messi's Champions League total to 92 goals, including nine in this season's group stages alone, and though he narrowly missed a hat-trick, his genius ensured Celtic exited all European competition while Barca will progress as group winners.
His performances were praised throughout with Steven Gerrard who was working as a pundit on BT Sport, particularly effusive in his praise. Speaking about Messi, Gerrard simply said:
"Messi is the best ever, the best there'll ever be!"
This is not the first time the former Liverpool captain has praised Messi. Earlier this year, Gerrard had admitted he would choose Messi over Ronaldo if asked to pick between the two.
"We're living in an era where Messi and Ronaldo are taking forward play to a level we've never seen before," he told BT Sport.
"Choosing between them is like having to choose between Pele and [Diego] Maradona, because they are recording numbers that are incredible – more than 800 goals in club football between them alone.
"Years ago, a striker who scored 30 goals in a season in all competitions was recognised as a world-class player, but these two are doubling that. To split them is almost impossible.
"If I was forced to pick one, I would probably go for Messi, but that's only because he's slightly more of a team player – he might just provide more assists or final passes, but it would be 51% to 49% in my mind.”
The battle for the Ballon d’Or award is heating up and although many people believe that it is Cristiano Ronaldo’s award due to his Champions League and Euro 2016 triumphs, Messi has his own set of supporters and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top when the voting is finally done and finalised.
Also, since the Ballon d’Or award has finally cut its ties with FIFA, fans will have two awards to look forward to this season, the Ballon d’Or award which will be decided by a few elite journalists selected by France Football and, the FIFA Best Player of the World which will be decided based on votes from fans and national team captains.
The below video shows some top players choosing between Messi and Ronaldo
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