Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo took a shot at the Barcelona trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez during his pre-match press conference on Tuesday ahead of the team's UEFA Champions League round-of-16 clash with AS Roma on Wednesday, while also weighing in on Messi's decision to pass the ball to Suarez from the penalty spot.
The prolific winger "did not hold back" when he was asked about the close relationship of Barca's "MSN" trio, per the MailOnline's Pete Jenson, and he ended up cutting his press conference short after a series of questions about his slumping away form.
As shared by Sport English, he didn't shy away from taking a shot at Real's biggest rivals:
SPORT English @Sport_EN
Ronaldo on MSN: The meals, hugs & little kisses don't mean anything - what's important is what happens on the pitch2/16/2016, 6:00:34 PM
Agence France-Presse's Justin Davis provided more comments on the topic, in which the Portugal international made the comparison to his attacking team-mates, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale:
Justin Davis @justindavis70
#Ronaldo no mates added: 'I don't need to have Benzema or Bale over for dinner, the important thing is to be close on the pitch.' #RomaReal2/16/2016, 6:06:44 PM
Per Jenson, he revealed he hardly ever spoke with Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand during his time at Manchester United, and they still found plenty of success on the pitch:
How do we know that [their relationship] is that way? Only because that is what gets written. I am going to tell you something. When I was at United, I didn't speak [off the pitch] to [Ryan] Giggs, [Paul] Scholes and [Rio] Ferdinand apart from the normal 'good morning' but we won the Champions League.
Ronaldo and manager Zinedine Zidane sat down to address the media ahead of Wednesday's clash, but the three-time Ballon d'Or winner didn't enjoy the reporters' line of questioning, and he left the press conference before it came to an end, per Football Italia.
One of the questions was about Messi's penalty during Barcelona's 6-1 win over Celta Vigo. Instead of simply shooting the ball himself, he instead laid it off for Suarez, who had rushed into the box and easily finished the chance. Ronaldo gave a cryptic answer:
SPORT English @Sport_EN
Ronaldo: I know why Messi took the penalty like that & I'm not saying anything else. Think what you want.2/16/2016, 5:44:09 PM
By passing the ball to Suarez, Messi handed his team-mate his 23rd goal of the La Liga campaign on a platter, per WhoScored.com. That means he now has two more than Ronaldo, who sits second in the rankings.
Some fans and pundits, like blogger Rafael Hernandez, took the answer as Ronaldo believing they took the penalty that way to stop him from reaching the top of the scoring charts:
Rafael Hernández @RafaelH117
Cristiano Ronaldo implied Messi gave his penalty to Suárez so the Uruguayan could further his lead as La Liga’s topscorer. Ridiculous.2/16/2016, 6:39:40 PM
Journalists also asked him about his scoring form, which has been markedly better at home than away.
Per Football Italia, Ronaldo was more than happy with his form, saying: “I’m used to it [the criticism], I consider it normal. I’ve been good to people, I’ve always given them everything and as soon as you slow down a bit journalists write all this. I’d sign-on to continue in this form.”
When he was pressed for more, he pointed to his career numbers before leaving the room, per Football Italia:
Do I feel appreciated? Yes, of course, absolutely. How could it not be so? I always play, I’ve scored a few goals and I’m at the best club in the world.
Why have I struggled to score away from home? Can you name one player who has scored more away from home than me since I’ve been in Spain?
No, you can’t, there aren’t any. Bye everyone.
Per WhoScored.com, Ronaldo hasn't scored away from the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu since November. The club sits four points behind Barcelona in the La Liga standings, but the Catalans still have a match in hand.