Besieged Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has been scourged by some fans for voicing his views on rivals Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who will finally meet again in their Champions League group this week.
The coach under pressure was inevitably asked for his opinion on the iconic sizes ahead of Juventus’ visit to Barcelona on Tuesday and opted to sit on the fence in a more diplomatic rather than philanthropic response.
Barca top scorer Messi and Ronaldo, his main rival for the Ballon d’Or during his amazing career, meet at the top of Group G for the first time in almost three years in an exciting playoff.
Fans were deprived of the rare chance to see the legends in the same seat in the second leg on October 28th when a frustrated Ronaldo was forced to put Juventus’ home defeat on hold after testing positive for Covid-19.
Tomorrow Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will face each other for the 36th time. Head-to-head record: -Lionel Messi: 22 goals, 12 assists, 0.97 G / A per game.-Cristiano Ronaldo: 19 goals, 1 assist, 0.57 G / A per game. Might get a treat from Leo. Pic.twitter.com/nF3VIqba7Z
– Football Themes (@FootyThreads_) December 7, 2020
KOEMAN: “It was a pleasure to see Messi and Ronaldo compete. They were the best in 15 years. They are different players, but they fought to score goals to win titles. It’s not a question of who . ” is better. We’ll enjoy the two tomorrow. “pic.twitter.com/wv7YZoPnoT
– The CR7 timeline. (@ TimelineCR7) December 7, 2020
“It’s not a motivating factor for us,” said Koeman, answering a question about the subplot between two of the best strikers of all time.
“Cristiano is one of the best and he always fights and always scores. It’s great that Messi and Cristiano are at the highest level.
“They are two different players but they have amazing goal records. Messi and Cristiano are the best players in the last 15 years. It’s not fair to say who is better. I admire them both.”
Amazing numbers! 🔢😵A breakdown of season goals and trophies posted by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi 🐐 pic.twitter.com/M8diFnOe4i
– Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 6, 2020
Koeman: “Messi and Cristiano are the best players in the last 15 years. It’s not fair to say who is better. I admire them both.” # BarçaJuveGetting sacked in the morning. 😂
– Blendi (@blenddib) December 7, 2020
Even his own manager calls Ronaldo the best – it’s done –
-. (@ZISPECIALONE__) December 7, 2020
Former Dutch coach Koeman may want to avoid distractions as he tries to put in poor form for his stuttering side, including a 2-1 loss in Cadiz on Saturday, which left Barcelona three points above the league’s relegation zone.
Messi scored one final penalty when they won 2-0 in Turin and Barcelona will win the group if they avoid losing to their second-placed visitors at Camp Nou.
Some fans on social media gave a predictable response to their embattled manager’s remarks. “Get fired in the morning,” said one, while others interpreted his words as an admission that Ronaldo is better in the endless debate about which player is better.
All-time Champions League free kick Goals: 1 – Cristiano Ronaldo 🇵🇹: 122 – Del Piero 🇮🇹: 113 – Juninho 🇧🇷: 104 – Rivaldo 🇧🇷: 8 … ☁ – Messi 🇦🇷: 5 Mind the Gap. 🐐 pic.twitter.com/vbPzQUTmnF
– Wonaldo (@ Madridi7ii) December 6, 2020
“This guy talks about how Messi gave him great evenings,” said another, referring to Messi’s meager return of four goals and no assists in ten league games this season. “He still doesn’t even know how to use it on the field. Cheating.”
Although Ronaldo has had a much better season at home so far, scoring eight goals and setting up one for a Juventus side six points ahead of the top of Serie A, the Portuguese captain follows the Argentine superstar in inter-team encounters.
Ronaldo is three times behind Messi’s 22 goals in those games and is unlikely to catch up with Messi’s 16 total wins, putting him six ahead of the 35-year-old.
This guy talking about how Messi gave him great evenings and he still doesn’t even know how to use him on PitchFraud
– BarcaNeedsFont (@ letsroll126) December 7, 2020
The pair last met Ronaldo, who played for Real Madrid in El Clasico in May 2018. Both players once scored a 2-2 draw.
“He’s still at the top because of his hard work every day,” Koeman said of Ronaldo, admitting that he was “angry” with Barcelona’s recent defeats. “We have to defend well and have the ball to remove his threat.
“”[Messi] is the best in the world and I don’t think he made many mistakes in defense. It is the work of the whole team to be more aggressive in defense and more effective. “
Games to get 250 goals: 🇦🇷 Lionel Messi: 379 —- 🏴 Harry Kane: 420 🏴 Alan Shearer: 477 Sergio Aguero: 510 🇵🇹 Cristiano Ronaldo : 510 🏴 Wayne Rooney: 562 Note the gap 🐐 pic.twitter.com/Z9l7bM0m0j
– Madrid Fan (@madrid_peak) December 6, 2020
The Champions League has been a happier hunting ground for Messi and his club this season. She won five out of five games and scored 16 goals, three of which were scored by the Talisman.
“There are two big teams fighting for the top of the group,” said Koeman. “At Barca, we cannot accept some of the goals we conceded in certain games.
“We want to find a balance between performance, effectiveness and not so many mistakes in the background. We will produce a strong team because we want to finish first in the group.”
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