BARCELONA (Sporting Alert) — Brazilian legendary Pele has spiced up Sunday’s El Clasico by backing Lionel Messi over Cristiano Ronaldo as the best player in the world in the past 10 years.
Venue: Nou Camp. Date: Sunday, 22 March, 3:00 PM ET
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The two superstars are gearing up for what should be a thrilling La Liga El Clasico at Camp Nou with Barcelona holding a one point lead over Real Madrid in the battle to win back the domestic title.
Without a doubt, the focus of attention will certainly be on Messi and Ronaldo and Pele gave his views about who he thinks is the better player.
“At the moment people always try to compare Ronaldo with Messi [but] it’s a different style,” the three-time World Cup winner told the BBC’s Sportsweek.
“They are two great players, but in the past 10 years the best in the world was Messi.”
Heading into the battle, Messi’s stats has shown that he has been the better player in 2015 — scoring 20 goals and supplying 12 assists from his 18 games, while Ronaldo has netted just nine times in 14 games and has four assists.
A win for Barcelona would see them go four points clear at the top of La Liga standings, while a defeat would give Real Madrid a two point advantage.
The home side is targeting a victory in their hunt to win back the league title, but Barca head boss Luis Enrique, who played for both sides during his playing days, has dismissed suggestions that the outcome of this class will decide the title race.
“It’s an important game but not a decisive one,” Enrique said. “These games are certainly different to any others. They are our eternal rivals.
“There’s also our head-to-head goal difference to bear in mind.”
He continued: “There are no clear favourites in games like these. But playing in front of our own fans always gives us that extra boost.
“This is a nice chance to put some space between us.
“It’s not quite as intense as a manager. You have to control what’s happening on the pitch. It’s more about keeping your cool and making decisions at the right time.”
Barcelona have won nine of their last 10 La Liga games, but will be cautious about facing a Real Madrid side that is full of talent.
“They have Cristiano and (Gareth) Bale, two players that are very powerful, very fast, very dangerous in the one-on-one and who score goals. (Karim) Benzema gives them balance,” Barcelona defender Gerard Pique said.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid forward Benzema commented: “We know there’s a lot of pressure, but that’s normal because it’s a huge match.
“Every player who loves football wants to play in it. If we defend well we can do it.
“We can repeat the result from the first half of the season [a 3-1 win].We’re in good shape to win and put in a performance like the one we put in. We’re Real Madrid.
“To score again like I did in our first meeting of the season, I need a bit of luck and nothing else.”
The likes of Neymar, Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitić and Andrés Iniesta are all looking forward to this El Clasico.