The battle for the World Player of the Year award had shifted to his home turf but Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo was again upstaged by Lionel Messi of Barcelona in Saturday’s “Clasico” at the Bernabeu.
Fresh from hitting four past Arsenal in the Champions League on Tuesday, current World Player Messi netted Barca’s opening goal, while previous year’s winner Ronaldo was limited to a few sprints, a couple of shots and a smattering of showy stepovers and flicks.
To add insult to injury, disgruntled fans whistled the Portuguese late in the match, suggesting they have yet to be convinced he is worth the millions Real paid Manchester United for his services.
“Too much Messi for CR9,” was the headline in Sunday’s Madrid-based Marca sports daily, while its peer in the Catalan capital, Sport, trumpeted: “Leo makes a fool of Cristiano in the clash of the stars.”
Silverware is key to winning the FIFA World Player award and Barca’s 2-0 win put the champions three points clear of their arch-rivals at the top of La Liga with seven matches left.
The defeat left Ronaldo and Real facing a trophy-less season after their exits from Europe and the King’s Cup.
Barca, if they get through their Champions League semi-final against Inter Milan, will also have a chance to win a second successive title in May’s final at the Bernabeu.
“All the fans have the same feeling right now: the sceptre for the best player in the world is Messi’s — and it could be for a long time to come,” Marca columnist Roberto Palomar wrote on Sunday.