The 22-year-old Messi, whose form will be crucial to Argentina’s hopes at the World Cup, tops La Liga scoring chart with 27 goals to Portugal international Ronaldo’s 18. He is also the leading marksman in the Champions League with eight. Ronaldo managed seven before Real were dumped out by Lyon, the sixth season in a row they failed to reach the last eight.
“Lionel Messi showed yesterday in the Bernabeu that the second-best player in the world is light years from his level,” Sport wrote on Sunday.
“As Leo was attempting to add to his goal tally, Cristiano was lost on the pitch, making pointless runs and expressing his rage with angry, excessive gestures. Ronaldo had to resign himself to the fact that his reign in the football world has ended and that’s that.”
The contrasting styles of Ronaldo and Messi were again showcased on Saturday.
With a low centre of gravity and tricky skills, the diminutive Argentine, whose nickname is “the flea”, scampers around the pitch bouncing off opponents, while Ronaldo is more like a racehorse, galloping past defenders and firing thunderbolt shots from all directions.
However, writing in As daily on Sunday, J.J. Santos noted that Ronaldo’s sprinting runs on Saturday had been generally ineffective and resulted in the 25-year-old tiring himself out.
“Cristiano turned into a roadrunner chasing shadows,” Santos said. “By the time he found space and had the ball he was already exhausted and had to watch in despair as a genius like Messi destroyed Pellegrini’s defensive network.
“And even harder to take than the defeat must have been the fact that the fans whistled him for the first time.”
Palomar noted in Marca: “He ran, he used up all his fuel, but he was isolated and erratic.
“He tried from all directions but scarcely had chances to test Valdes, at whom he fired off only a couple of shots that didn’t even warm the goalkeeper’s hands.
“Messi popped up for Barca exactly when he was needed.”