Real recognize real.
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – by far the world's two best footballers – are indeed locked in a monumental tug-of-war to be declared the top dog, but contrary to what many attempt to peddle, there is a level of mutual respect between the Barcelona and Real Madrid titans.
Between them, the two have captured the last nine Ballon d'Ors – and Ronaldo, who just led Real Madrid to a second consecutive Champions League title, is essentially a lock to win the next one.
This has, inevitably, led to suggestions that their relationship is a thorny one; two men constantly climbing over one another to be crowned the greatest footballer of all time can't be acquaintances, they say.
And while it's true they're in contention for that distinction, it doesn't mean there isn't mutual respect. Just ask Messi.
Asked about his Portuguese counterpart during a rare interview while in China, Messi was full of praise, saying the two men push one another to continued excellence.
"We try to achieve the best every year for our team, and what is said outside of that I don't think is very important," Messi told Tencent, per ESPN FC.
"He (Ronaldo) is a phenomenal player with a lot of quality. All the world knows, and that is why he is one of the best of the world."
Take that, narrative.
Messi and the rest of his Argentine teammates were in China, stopping over en route to Australia, where they will take on Brazil in a friendly on Friday.
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