Lionel Messi names Cristiano Ronaldo as one of his toughest opponents
Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has named Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the toughest opponents he has played against, Goal.com reports. The 28-year-old, however, was diplomatic and didn't pinpoint any specific footballer as the toughest and instead chose to name the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Arjen Robben, besides the Portuguese international as well as several club teammates who he has faced in international matches.
Ronaldo and Messi are undoubtedly the greatest footballers of their generation and arguably two of the greatest players of all time. The two have been setting the La Liga on fire for many seasons now and have shared the Ballon d’Or between them since 2008. Despite their rivalry, Messi had no hesitation in praising the Real Madrid superstar.
“I don’t want to single one out, but I’d say that I’m happy that most of them play for Barcelona and I’ve only played against them internationally,” Messi said. “I’ve faced Neymar, Suarez, Iniesta, Xavi, and they are very tough. And of course, there is Cristiano, Robben, Ribery, Ibrahimovic, Kun (Sergio Aguero). But I can’t pick one.”
Messi adopted the same approached when pressed on his thoughts as to who the best player at Nou Camp was. Following the departure of Xavi to Qatari club Al Sadd, Iniesta and Messi were named as Barca’s first two skippers for the 2015/16 campaign and the Albiceleste skipper was all praise for their efforts in training.
“Impossible! It is so hard to say. Players like Xavi and Iniesta, they have been at the heart of this club for so long, but they still train at 100%. They are right up there with the best trainers, and as club captain and vice captain, they inspire the rest and lead by example. Who is the laziest trainer? Nobody! You can’t be a lazy trainer at Barcelona,” Messi said.
Messi feels the MSN trio is the best one he has been part of at Barcelona
Messi has been an ever present in the Barcelona side since the 2006/07 season and has forged brilliant partnerships with many other brilliant forwards. While acknowledging the success he shared with many of them, Messi feels the trio he formed part of with Luis Suarez and Neymar is undoubtedly the best of the lot.
“I’m lucky. I’ve played with so many wonderful forwards over the years. I had a great connection with Ronaldinho. I player with Samuel Eto’o, with Thierry Henry, with Pedro, David Villa, Alexis! We all played differently together, but each player had fantastic assets,” Messi said.
“And it’s not always forwards that give you the most assists, either – look at Dani Alves, he makes lots of chances for me. So it’s hard to compare, but I have to say that it is hard to top lining up alongside Neymar and Suarez.”
The MSN trio, as they have been commonly referred to as scored a whopping 122 goals between them, almost 70% of the total scored by Barca in their dream treble winning campaign. Worryingly for defenders, Messi feels they can be an even greater threat in the 2015/16 season.
“They are two players at the top of their games. We have only been together as a three for one season, so there is still work to do on the partnership, and we can all improve together – but we all see it as teamwork. If we can all play at our best, and help each other, bring out the best in each other, it can only be good for Barcelona,” he said.
Messi opened up further on what makes their partnership unique and fearsome.
“I’ve said before that with Neymar’s quality, touch and fitness, he can become the best in the world – and Luis is the same. His touch, vision, his movement, his instinctive play, are incredible. We all offer something different and make each other better,” Messi said.