They might have been the faces of El Clasico rivalry for close to a decade but Cristiano Ronaldo has said he never saw Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi as his “rival”. The Juventus forward, who scored twice in their 3-0 Champions League win over Barcelona on Tuesday, added he has always gotten along well with his nemesis as the two football legends met on the pitch for the first time since Ronaldo moved from Real Madrid to Turin in 2018.
Things are changing for both the greats as Lionel Messi is likely to leave Barcelona in the summer window as his relationship with the management is not getting better. Under new manager Ronaldo Koeman, Barcelona have struggled to get going, managing only 4 wins in 10 matches as the Catalans are reeling at the 9th spot.
“I have always had a cordial relationship with Messi,” Ronaldo told Movistar after the game. “As I have said before, for 12, 13, 14 years [I have been] sharing prizes with him.
“I never saw him as a rival. He always tried the best for his team and I tried the best for mine. I always got on well with him. I am sure he will say the same if you ask him.
“But we know in football people always look for a rivalry to create more excitement.”
33-year-old Messi and Ronaldo have won the Ballon d’Or in 11 of the past 12 years between them, had came to define the El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid over the past decade.
Ronaldo said he hoped the win would provide an “injection of confidence” for a Juve team that are currently fourth in Serie A.
Barcelona were reeling from a 2-1 defeat by promoted minnows Cadiz on Saturday in La Liga but Ronaldo feels Messi is the ‘same’.
“Messi is the same as ever [on the pitch],” he said. “Barcelona are in a difficult moment, but they are still Barca. I am sure they will come out of it. All teams have bad runs, but Barcelona are a very good team.”