Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo continue their rivalry in El Clasico – and Javier Saviola has had his say on the duo.
Javier Saviola believes Lionel Messi is better to watch than Cristiano Ronaldo as the two rivals prepare to do battle in El Clasico.
Barcelona host Real Madrid on Saturday, the champions trailing Zinedine Zidane’s side by six points at the top of the table.
The match comes at a time when Messi and Ronaldo are again the leading candidates to win the Ballon d’Or, having claimed the game’s biggest individual prize in every year since Kaka’s triumph in 2007.
Saviola – who played on both sides of the Clasico divide – prefers Messi to Ronaldo, but hailed the accomplishments of both players.
He told Omnisport: “I love how Messi plays football. If I had to choose a favourite player, I would definitely choose him.
“It is about taste, I like Messi better, but there is no doubt that Cristiano is a great player.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is a machine, physically powerful. Messi is more skilful and he brings more of a spectacle when he comes onto the pitch.
“When they finish their careers, both will be among the best in history – that is beyond doubt.”
Former Argentina international Saviola feels it is his compatriot Messi’s attitude and personality which helps him to stand out from the crowd, as well as his phenomenal talent.
Saviola added: “I love how he plays, the way he improves season by season – if he can improve at all as there’s little space for him to improve!
“Messi is beyond doubt among of the best in history. We are all looking to everything he does as he is a pure spectacle.
“He is the best, not just as a player but also as a person. I have always been on very good terms with him. He is a very humble person and it is really pleasant to chat with him.
“The kind of guy you keep a friendship with, very humble. As great as he is on the pitch, he is great as a person.”
Saviola played for Barca while Messi was making waves with the youth team prior to making his debut in 2004.
“I heard there was a kid in the Barca youth team and that it was worth going to see him play,” said Saviola.
“They told us he had an incredible left foot, that he was already different and they thought he would be one of the best in history.
“He is better than the rest because he thinks before he gets the ball at his feet. Most players, we can’t do that. We can’t think before we get the ball. Maybe due to tiredness, maybe due to our skills, but we can’t.
“He thinks, he imagines the play before even getting the ball and then executes it. He’s fast, really difficult to stop. He’s effective, understands his team-mates and is really complete. A normal player has two or three of these skills – he has got them all.”
But Saviola still had kind words for Ronaldo, who is the favourite to be named the world’s best player when the 2016 edition of the Ballon d’Or is awarded.
“His results, his records are there,” the 34-year-old added.
“Year after year they both improve their own records and it is not coincidence that all these years they compete in between them to win Ballon d’Or.
“They are making history with amazing seasons clinching trophies such as the Champions League or Euros as Ronaldo did this summer with Portugal.
“They were not favourites and it has a huge merit that they won, he also won Champions League.
“He’s really effective and of course stands a chance for Ballon d’Or. He is really competitive with himself. If he scores three he wants to hit the fourth and you can see he gets frustrated if he doesn’t. So he’s mentally really strong.”