Lionel & Cristiano: A Messi Releationship
Lionel Messi is a world star. He is, arguably, the greatest footballer of his generation and comes across as a man that has not let this stardom go to his head. He joined Barcelona as a child after the Catalonian club agreed to pay for his medical treatment for hormone growth deficiency and he has never looked back since. His humble demeanour has endeared him to fans all over the world and has also perhaps increased his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo, whose character is seen as a polar opposite.
Portugal v Argentina by Fanny Schertzer (CC BY 3.0)
It is clear that there will always be a competitive rivalry between the world’s best players of certain generations. Players always want to prove that they are the best, so it is a natural thing for those at the top of the game to try to outdo each other – and it is not a modern phenomenon. You had it between Bobby Charlton and Franz Beckenbauer who were both the key figures for their respective countries. You had it between Roy Keane and nearly everyone he came up against. It occurs in other sports, too, with the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in golf and in ice hockey between Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.
So when Neymar arrived at the Nou Camp and then left to PSG this summer in what was a mighty hurrah, it was always going to stoke a rivalry between the two stars. Messi was reportedly upset at the way Neymar went about getting the move and did not like the fact that his teammate’s ego played a massive part in the whole affair. You can understand Messi’s point as Neymar has already clashed with new PSG teammate Edison Cavani over who should take the penalties, which is really code for who should be the head honcho.
Neymar Jr by Antoine Dellenbach (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Both Messi and Neymar are doing the business on the pitch for their clubs, with Barcelona and PSG topping their respective Champions League groups and domestic leagues. It is hard to see which player will help their side progress the furthest in the Champions League this season, with PSG the current favourites in the eyes of the online football tips.
Neymar recently posed with Cristiano Ronaldo at the FIFA Awards as the Portuguese star piped Messi to the FIFA Best Player award which many believed was a deliberate attempt to goad Messi after his open criticism of the Brazilian star. It would be great to see the two players face each other in the later stages of the Champions League and PSG fans will certainly believe their side owes Barcelona a thrashing after the dramatic comeback by the Spanish side knock the French champions out of the competition last season.
Both sides appear to be on target for their domestic titles so the Champions League will take on a greater significance for both players. Real Madrid won it last season and both Barcelona and PSG will be determined to stop them repeating this feat in 2018.
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