Cristiano Ronaldo said he has always gotten along well with Lionel Messi and has never seen him as a rival, after scoring twice in Juventus’ 3-0 win over Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Cristiano, 35, scored two penalties while the Italian champions ended Barça’s 38-game unbeaten streak at home in Europe to reach the behest of the eighth as the group winners. Barça advances in second place.
It was the first meeting between Cristiano and Messi in more than two years, since the Portuguese forward left Real Madrid to join Juventus in 2018..
“I have always had a cordial relationship with Messi”, Cristiano Ronaldo told Movistar After the match. “As I have said before, for 12, 13, 14 years I have been sharing awards with him.
“I never considered him a rival. He always aimed for the best for his team and I always aimed for the best for mine. We always get along. I’m sure he’ll tell you the same if you ask him.”
“But we know that in football people are always looking for rivalries to create a little more excitement in the matches.”
Messi, 33, and Cristiano, both of whom have won the Ballon d’Or in 11 of the last 12 years, have defined the El Clásico rivalry between Barça and Real Madrid over the last decade.
However, the two are in the final stages of their careers at the moment and their respective teams have had sub-standard starts to the season in their domestic leagues.
Cristiano said he hoped the win would provide an “injection of confidence” for a Juve team that is currently fourth in Serie A.
Barça could also use a little confidence. The loss to Juve came after Saturday’s loss to Cádiz in La Liga, but despite the Catalan team’s problems, Cristiano said he doesn’t think Messi – who made all seven of Barça’s shots on goal on Tuesday – is in slope.
“Messi is the same as always on the field,” he said. “Barcelona is in a difficult moment, but it is still Barça. I am sure they will be able to solve it. All teams have bad spells at some point, but Barcelona is a very good team.”
While Barça forward, Antoine Griezmann, was critical of the team’s performance as they were beaten by Juve.
Among Cristiano’s penalties, US international Weston McKennie also kicked on goal, with a fourth goal by Leonardo Bonucci that ended up being disallowed by the VAR for being offside.
“We couldn’t show up,” Griezmann said. “They beat us in the first half. We lacked intensity in all areas: attitude, desire to run, to defend… everything was bad.
“Who is to blame if not us who were on the pitch? We know how to run, how to work hard and that’s what we have to do to move forward.
“I don’t want to look for excuses. We have to put that aside and work hard, that’s all. On Sunday we have a game [contra Levante], and we have to earn it. The picture [del equipo] tonight was horrendous. “