Argentine football celebrity Lionel Messi has admitted that his personal battle with nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo was “special” and “fun” during their rivalry in Spain’s La Liga.
Messi, 32, who plays as a forward and captains both Spanish club Barcelona and the Argentina national team, was interviewed by DAZN, saying:
"It was a special duel and it will remain forever because it lasted many years and it is not easy to maintain certain levels for a long time. Plus the teams we played in were also very demanding, both Real Madrid and Barcelona were the two best teams in the world."
The comparisons between the pair, arguably the best players of their generation, particularly intense when both were in La Liga, as Cristiano Ronaldo, 34, played for Real Madrid – Barcelona’s greatest rivals.
Belonging to the same generation, with Messi just two years younger, and both primarily positioning as wide forwards, it was inevitable that comparisons between the two were made regularly.
"Competing on an equal footing for so many years, I think it will remain forever. The sporting duel between us was very nice on a personal level, and I think people had fun too, whether it was from Madrid or from Barca, or even only football fans in general," said Messi.
Lionel Messi: "It hurt me a bit when Cristiano Ronaldo joined me on 5 Ballon d'Ors. I was no longer alone at the summit." (FF) https://t.co/Xq39rNPhUz— Get French Football News (@GFFN) December 3, 2019
The two soccer geniuses battled it out throughout the 2010s as Barcelona and Real Madrid went head-to-head for the La Liga and Champions League titles, individually setting new benchmarks for consistent goalscoring.
Messi and Ronaldo this decade = goal machines pic.twitter.com/ejJ0MVTX20— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 31, 2019
Cristiano Ronaldo won two La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies while playing for Real Madrid, while Messi picked up seven Spanish league trophies and two Champions League triumphs.
In scoring terms, the two “goal machines” also match up quite closely, with the Argentinian scoring 472 times in all competitions for Barcelona between 2009 and 2018, while Cristiano Ronaldo notched 450 goals for Real Madrid.
Messi and Ronaldo also competed for personal trophies, sharing between them the coveted Ballon D'Or.
In the past twelve years, eleven of the awards have gone to either Messi or Ronaldo, with the 2019 Ballon D’Or scooped by Messi - his sixth, leaving him one ahead of his rival.
In the wake of Ronaldo's move to Juventus in 2018, the debate over who is the superior player has somewhat died down.
Closer to the “twilight years” of their respective careers they may be, yet they remain ambitious and have lost none of the desire to win.