Lionel Messi opens up on rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo which ‘will remain forever’

Throughout the 2010s, the pair battled it out for both club and personal honours as Barcelona and Real Madrid competed with each other for the La Liga and Champions League titles

Alice Reeves-Turner
Wednesday 15 January 2020 18:26 GMT
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Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been the undoubted stars of modern football
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been the undoubted stars of modern football (Getty)

Lional Messi found his personal battle with Cristiano Ronaldo “special” and “fun” during their rivalry in Spain.

Throughout the 2010s, the pair battled it out for both club and personal honours as Barcelona and Real Madrid competed with each other for the La Liga and Champions League titles. And whilst both players are renowned for their competitive nature and desire to win, Messi has admitted he relished their rivalry.

Messi said: “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.”

Between joining Real Madrid from Manchester United for a then-world-record £80m fee in 2009, and leaving in 2018 for Juventus, Ronaldo picked up two La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies at the Santiago Bernabeu.

In the same period of time, Messi lifted the Spanish top-flight trophy seven times and the Champions League twice. The Barcelona forward also scored 472 times in all competitions for Barca between 2009 and 2018, while Ronaldo registered 450 goals for Madrid.

Messi said: “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.”

The pair have also battled for personal honours. Over the past 12 years, 11 of the Ballon d’Or awards have gone to either Messi or Ronaldo, with the Barcelona forward winning the 2019 edition to claim his sixth award – one ahead of his biggest rival.

Messi admitted in December 2019 that having Ronaldo match him on the number of Ballon d’Or wins was a painful feeling.

He said: “On the one hand, I appreciated having five and being the only one to do so. When Cristiano levelled me, I have to admit that it hurt me a bit. I was no longer alone at the summit.”

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