FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi says he misses facing his arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo as the former Real Madrid forward offered “Prestige” to La Liga.
Messi has started 2019 in an awesome form with the Catalan side fleeing with La Liga and through to the Champions League quarter-finals, and Real Madrid struggling hard to keep their feet having sold Ronaldo to Juventus in the summer transfer window.
Ronaldo has kept on saving his best for Europe’s elite club competition, with a superb hat-trick against Atletico Madrid firing the Seria A giants into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
The Portuguese forward enjoyed success in Madrid, winning three consecutive Champions League titles and, talking on an Argentine radio station on Friday, Messi astounded the audience with a confession about his rival.
“I miss Cristiano,” Messi told FM Club 947 in Argentina. “Although it was a bit difficult to see him win trophies, he gave La Liga prestige.
“Juventus are a great candidate to win the Champions League since the arrival of Cristiano, and the match against Atleti must have given them a lot of confidence.”
Messi and Ronaldo are widely considered to be two of the greatest players to have ever played the game. The draw in this manner guaranteed Messi and Ronaldo can’t meet except if the two clubs qualify for UCL final, which is set to be played at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano home ground.
But the Barcelona captain feels team-mate Luis Suarez should be considered among the best of the rest.
“I don’t want to forget anyone, but I think that Neymar, [Kylian] Mbappe, [Eden] Hazard, Luis Suarez and [Sergio] Aguero are the best,” Messi added.
“I didn’t mention Cristiano because I put him aside from the list with me.”
The 31-year-old said going from Barcelona to Argentina was difficult and blamed their poor performances in Russia on a swift transition from promoting younger players to take up senior positions in the team.
“I think the generational change was very brusque,” Messi said. “It should have been done slower. You need to give the kids time and confidence. The change was a really big one.”
Messi said he was still tortured by the loss of the 2014 World Cup final to Germany in extra-time and warned fans not to expect too much from Argentina at this year’s Copa America in Brazil.
“Do you know the number of times I’ve replayed the final and the chances we had? It would have been so different if we’d scored one of them,” he added.
“Being realistic, a lot of work is needed to be a powerhouse. These kids have played very few matches for the national team. We need to be patient and I have no doubt that we are going to be strong.”
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