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GOAT debate: Cristiano Ronaldo opens up on his longstanding rivalry with Lionel Messi

22 Aug 2019, 10:59 IST

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi

What’s the story?

Portuguese talisman Cristiano Ronaldo has opened up on his decade-long rivalry with Lionel Messi. Branding it as 'good', not 'unique', Ronaldo heaped praise on Messi for making him a better player.

In case you didn’t know...

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have been at the very top level for over a decade without compromising their incredible consistency. The talismanic duo has shared the most number of Ballon d’Or wins with five each, topping almost every possible attacking stat in the process.

Nevertheless, the decade-long duopoly of Messi and Ronaldo was broken by Real Madrid’s Luka Modrić last year, as the midfield maestro became the first Croatian to lift the Ballon d’Or.

However, both Messi and Ronaldo missed out on the Champions League last season, with Barcelona getting knocked out at the hands of Liverpool from the semi-final stage in a bizarre fashion and Juventus failing to get the better of Ajax in the quarter-final.

Although both are still in contention to win this year’s most coveted individual accolade, Virgil van Dijk seems to be the front runner after guiding Liverpool to their sixth European continental glory.

The heart of the matter

In an interview with TV1, Cristiano Ronaldo said,

"I have no doubt that Messi has made me a better player and vice-versa. When I am winning trophies it must sting him and it's the same for me when he wins."
"I really admire the career he [Messi] has had and from his side, he has already talked of the disappointment when I left Spain because it was a rivalry that he appreciated."
"It's a good rivalry but it's not unique -- Michael Jordan had rivalries in basketball, there was Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in Formula 1. The thing they all had in common is that they were healthy rivalries."
"I have an excellent professional relationship [with Messi] because we have been sharing the same moments for 15 years.
"We've never had dinner together but I don't see why we can't in the future. I don't see a problem with that."

What’s next?

Ronaldo will be back in action for Juventus in their Serie A opener against Parma on Saturday after missing out on their last pre-season friendly with slight fatigue in his left adductor.

Messi, meanwhile, is recovering from a tier 1 calf injury and is expected to play some part against Real Betis on Sunday.

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