Lionel Messi Comments on Cristiano Ronaldo Comparisons and Real Madrid Rivalry

Matt Jones@@MattJFootballFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2016

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has discouraged comparisons between himself and Real Madrid man Cristiano Ronaldo, insisting his focus is very much singular in this critical phase of the campaign.

With the Blaugrana and Los Blancos set to meet next weekend in a massive game, people will inevitably contrast the records of these two remarkable players. However, Messi has told Egyptian TV station MBC, via Sport (h/t ESPN FC), he pays no attention to debates surrounding him and Ronaldo.

“The press looks to compare among other things. All I want is to help my team to grow each season,” the Barcelona man said. “I don't compare myself to Cristiano nor to anyone. I only try to think of me, of my team-mates and win games.”

In terms of La Liga’s title race, the match between these two great rivals at the Camp Nou is unlikely to mean a great deal. After all, leaders Barca have built up an impressive 10-point buffer between them and Los Blancos, who currently sit in the third spot behind local rivals Atletico Madrid.

Nevertheless, whenever these eternal foes go head-to-head, regardless of what’s at stake, it’s a must-watch encounter. Messi also spoke about just how difficult it is to get one over on Real, too.

“They [Real Madrid] have great players," he said. "They have always had impressive stars and it's one of the best teams in the world. They are always a complicated rival and against them, we always find it difficult to beat them in the Spanish league. There is a lot of competition and we try to do it better.”

While Messi was being complementary about Real, scoring against the capital club has never looked altogether too difficult for the Barcelona talisman. In total, Messi has netted an impressive 21 times in this fixture. Here are those goals:

Ronaldo is certainly no shrinking violet when it comes to this white-hot encounter, either, with 15 goals netted against Barcelona for Real.

Despite being in among the goals this term once again, there have been some critics of the Portuguese, who has yet to showcase his very best in the biggest games this season. Indeed, in the campaign’s other Clasico, Real were humiliated 4-0 by a Barca side that had Messi on the bench, with Ronaldo largely anonymous.

Still, as we can see here courtesy of Squawka Football, Ronaldo leads the likes of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar in terms of goals scored this season in Spain's top flight:

While the comparisons between these two will always remain, it’s easy to see why they’d grate on both Messi and Ronaldo. There are similarities between the two in that they’re both talismanic figures for a juggernaut of European football. Stylistically, however, they’re pretty far removed.

It's a gap that is getting wider and wider, too. Ronaldo now plays more advanced in this Real setup, while Messi is becoming increasingly withdrawn in his position and showing a greater willingness to link up in general play. Even so, if Barcelona or Real take three points on Saturday, history dictates their respective superstar is likely to play a vital role in them doing so.

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