Diego Maradona Praises Lionel Messi, Calls Cristiano Ronaldo 'A Sorcerer'

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMarch 14, 2019

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - MARCH 12: Diego Armando Maradona coach of Dorados reacts during the quarterfinals match between Pumas UNAM and Dorados as part of the Copa MX Clausura 2019 at Olimpico Universitario Stadium on March 12, 2019 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Jam Media/Getty Images

Diego Maradona has lauded Cristiano Ronaldo's UEFA Champions League heroics against Atletico Madrid and said while Argentina is proud to have Lionel Messi, the former is "a sorcerer" and "an animal." 

Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in Turin, Italy, on Tuesday to seal a 3-2 aggregate victory and push Juventus into the Champions League quarter-finals. Messi scored two goals and recorded two assists for Barcelona on Wednesday as they thrashed Lyon 5-1, but Maradona spoke to the media and reserved special praise for the former:

"There are players who are touched by the magic wand.

"The truth is that us Argentines are proud that Messi is Argentinian and did not go with the Spanish.

"The other is an animal. Ronaldo is pure power and is now also a sorcerer: he said that he'd score three goals, and he scored three goals."

Juve seemed doomed to exit the Champions League in the round of 16 before Ronaldo's intervention, which quadrupled his European goal count for the season in one night's work (U.S. only):

Bleacher Report Live @brlive

Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick gives Juventus an historic Champions League comeback 🎩 The man owns the #UCL 👑 https://t.co/CIGbqxXSyC

Maradona was addressing reporters after his side, Dorados, were knocked out of the Copa MX quarter-finals following a 3-0 defeat at Pumas UNAM.

Even Messi couldn't help but admire the Portuguese's accomplishment, per Goal:

Goal @goal

Even Messi knows Ronaldo was awesome on Tuesday night 🤩 https://t.co/P9bntAwdiT

Ronaldo, 34, has now qualified for the Champions League's last eight every season since 2010-11, not to mention Tuesday's hat-trick kept alive his dream of winning four consecutive titles in the competition.

The Bianconeri would not have made it into the quarter-finals without their £100 million star, although Barca would have also been knocked out in the round of 16 without Messi's contribution:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Tuesday: Hat-trick from Ronaldo Wednesday: Two goals and two assists from Messi Back-to-back 🐐 performances (via @brfootball) https://t.co/5LWzVLZv1T

He converted Barca's first from the penalty spot before adding a second in the 78th minute, as well as setting up goals for Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele in the closing stages (U.S. only):

Bleacher Report Live @brlive

A day after Cristiano Ronaldo's dramatic hat trick, Lionel Messi tallied 2 goals and 2 assists to lead Barcelona to the #UCL quarterfinals 🤩 Watch every big moment from Wednesday with the Champions League Highlight Show on #BRLive: https://t.co/f5E25hfsd8 https://t.co/FVstpl7xXo

Argentina legend Maradona has long admired Ronaldo and has previous when it comes to touting him as Messi's equal.

He and Messi, 31, have each won five Ballons d'Or, but Ronaldo holds the edge in Champions League crowns, having won five with Real Madrid (four) and Manchester United (one). Messi has won the tournament four times, all with the Blaugrana.

Ronaldo was sent off 30 minutes into his Champions League debut for Juventus so has missed playing time, but BBC Sport highlighted Messi as the superior this season despite this week's events:

BBC Sport @BBCSport

Anything you can do, I can do better. Do Lionel Messi & Cristiano Ronaldo thrive on each other's magic? Read👉https://t.co/dUVwZtELvT https://t.co/YDGAKAQxS4

Both Ronaldo and Messi will discover their next Champions League opponent on Friday when the quarter-final draw takes place in Nyon, Switzerland.