Time to stop the Messi/Ronaldo debate

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Here we are, in the wake of another Lionel Messi master class, debating once again if he’s the best or if that title falls to his nemesis, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Frankly, it’s becoming a pathetic comparison.

Each have a different set of skills and both are incredible players in their own right. To consistently have to compare one and the other is getting very tiring.

It’s blindingly obvious that one’s feats are what drives the other on, providing the biggest motivating factor.

There’s simply no need, when Messi writes the headlines, to even involve Ronaldo in the conversation. And vice versa.

Take Messi’s hat-trick against Betis.

There can’t have been too many other trebles that have included such incredible finishes, and maybe there are none at all.

But rather than dwell on just how brilliant it was, much of the Monday morning debate was filled by facts that are of no real consequence.

That Messi is still one career hat-trick behind Ronaldo, that the Portuguese has more Champions Leagues, that the Juve man is the highest scorer ever in the top European tournament…

They, and many other stats, are trotted out, parrot fashion as if to somehow reinforce that Messi will always be in Ronaldo’s shadow.

Messi’s supporters are always looking to denounce Ronaldo’s achievements too.

This endless quest for some sort of fanatical one-upmanship isn’t of any benefit, and moves the conversation away from the absolute fact that both players are in a league of their own.

They have been for years now, and though it’s become cliche to say it, football post-Messi and Ronaldo will be an interesting watch.

Generational talents, they will not be replaced, but someone, probably Kylian Mbappe, will take their crown at some point.

Perhaps then, and only then, will there be a full appreciation of what both players brought to their profession, and what’s more, did so for an unbelievable length of time.

It’s that consistency and longevity which is truly astonishing, but let’s stop throwing around the stats willy-nilly.

Who cares if one has more hat-tricks, goals or assists than the other.

Sit back, relax and enjoy what little time we have left to enjoy them because, in the blink of an eye, both will have exited stage left.

Barca could end Solari’s Real Madrid career

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Earlier this season, Julen Lopetegui knew definitively that his Real Madrid coaching tenure was over when Los Blancos were hammered 5-1 at the Camp Nou.

The manner of the defeat left Florentino Perez no other option, notwithstanding that the president needs no excuse to exercise his trigger finger. Continue reading

Barcelona’s incentive to end Real Madrid’s season

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There was a 50 percent chance of it happening, and once Valencia and Real Betis had been drawn out of the Copa del Rey hat, it meant that, yes, we were going to see a two-legged El Clasico semi-final.

Moreover, the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu precedes a league match between the two teams at the same venue just 72 hours later.

It’s the first time in Barcelona’s history that they will have played two consecutive games at the Bernabeu, and given their recent record there, the Blaugrana will be entirely confident of continuing their run of victories. Continue reading

El Clasico will have no Messi, no Ronaldo as TV faces huge challenge

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We already knew, of course, that Cristiano Ronaldo would not be competing in El Clasico the match up between Barcelona and Real Madrid after his summer move to Juventus. But now Lionel Messi, the greatest player of his generation has been ruled out of the clash after fracturing his arm against Sevilla.

First it was the fans to gasp when Messi went down in pain, then it was the stats people, pundits followed and it quickly became known that Barcelona’s next game in the league is against Real Madrid, the super tie in world football. Next it was the television guys to cry. Still reeling that Real Madrid can only serve up Gareth Bale as a game changer, now they have lost Messi. Of course Bale is a superb player, arguably the greatest British player of all time and certainly of a generation, but still he’s not next level, which is shared by Ronaldo and Messi.

The news that Messi will miss 3 weeks which most probably will only be two just sets a huge damp squib of epic proportions on next weeks game. TV will certainly lose viewing figures though they are set to still have their highest of the season so far, they will be working overtime to create ads and promos and try to lure in more viewers, but that’s hard when the main ingredients are not there.

For hardcore fans of Spanish football though this game could be very interesting. Some will believe that the playing field will be level now and Real Madrid losing again at the weekend has put huge pressure on them and coach Julen Lopetegui who has got off to a nightmare start with the Champions League champions. His job is reported to be on the line after just 4 months in charge and a defeat against Barcelona could signal the end of his short tenure.

But back to the fans, the viewing ones at least who will still feel some excitement here given that they could be glimpsing a little into the future with no Messi in the team in such a high profile match, because of course only injury would otherwise keep him out.

For the ones that will be travelling far and wide to come here for a match that can cost upwards of 500 euros to witness live it’s a c’est la vie moment. What is undeniably true and can’t be ignored is that this game has had the shine taken off it.