Ronaldo: Barça is more than Messi
Cristiano Ronaldo has added to the growing list of plaudits for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, but warned it would be a mistake for Real Madrid to concentrate only on the Argentinian playmaker in this weekend's El Clasico between the Spanish giants.
Messi has been in stunning form this season and took his tally for the campaign to 39 goals in all competitions with all four in Tuesday's 4-1 UEFA Champions League victory over Arsenal. That triumph put Barça through to the semi-finals and a step closer to May's final, which will be played at the Bernabeu home of their arch rivals.
Barça make that very trip this weekend in a match which could go a long way to determining who will win the Primera Division title race, with both clubs locked on 77 points. Messi has scored 15 goals in his last 10 games, including three hat-tricks, and is likely to be one of the major figures on Saturday.
And his battle with Madrid ace Ronaldo is a mouth-watering prospect with both players in fine form. "He (Messi) is having a phenomenal season. He's in great form and is among the best players in the world now and ever," Ronaldo said. "I hope that Messi can score many more gals, but not on Saturday. I don't think that Messi will score another four goals (this weekend), but anything is possible."
The Portugal international, who has struck 18 goals in 21 league appearances since his world record £80million move from Manchester United last summer, was also keen to point out that Barcelona are not a one-man team. "He's phenomenal, but Messi doesn't play on his own. The coach and his team-mates deserve credit as well. Whoever knows about football knows what I'm saying," Ronaldo added.
Meanwhile, Barça coach Pep Guardiola and some of his senior players put their preparations for Saturday's clash on hold to attend today's presentation ceremony which saw club legend Johan Cruyff formally unveiled as Barça's honorary president.
Dutchman Cruyff played for the Catalan giants between 1973-78 and then coached the team during a hugely successful spell from 1988-96, leading the famous 'Dream Team' to four league titles and their first European Cup. Barça president Joan Laporta today credited Cruyff as being "the creator of the Barca style of play."
Laporta added on the club's website: "As a player he turned football into an art form. Johan came along and revolutionised everything. The modern-day Barca started with him, he is the expression of our identity, he brought us a style of football we love."