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  1. Over the years, Football fans have been divided in opinion whether it be the teams they choose to support or the English midfielder debate of Lampard v Gerrard. Players have often been compared to others that have never played at the same time together and often compared in both prime times. But one rivalry that has got fans debating for the past 10+ years has been that of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. It has been an age old battle between 2 of European Footballs greatest ever players. The real question though shouldn't be who's better but should we appreciate these 2 great footballers rather than compare them? As we may never witness another battle quite like this ever again. Some fans will argue the case that Ronaldo has been there and done that in conquering the Premier League and then moving to Spain to conquer more records ,and most recently ventured off to Italy for another challenge, where as Messi has only ever played for Barcelona, a team that has had bags of talent over the years with the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Co. pulling the strings. There is also the argument that Ronaldo has something Messi has failed to achieve in his career, an International Trophy, with Portugal winning Euro 2016. Despite the efforts of Messi finishing runners up on 4 occassions with Argentina. On the flip side, many people argue the fact that Messi is more of a team player than Ronaldo and will pass up oppurtunities to benefit his team rather than have personal glory. Despite having the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and Co. Is Messi the real reason for Barcelona's dominance since the young Argentinian prodigy arrived on the scene in 2004? His own personal records speak volumes as to say that he could light up any team no matter the players that he is surrounded by and if he was to have joined the same clubs as Ronaldo has been to, might of replicated or beaten his rivals records. Since Ronaldo's arrival at Real Madrid in 2009, there have been 38 El Classico's with Messi's Barcelona coming out the better with 17 wins compared with 10 wins for Ronaldo's Real Madrid and playing out 11 Draws in the timespace from Ronaldo joining and leaving Real Madrid in 2018. It can also be added that during this time, they have a combined 640 La Liga goals in 601 games. Messi 329 goals in 309 games and Ronaldo 311 goals in 292 games. Both goal ratio's are unbelievable, which seems unlikely to be replicated anywhere else in the footballing world. Records and Achievements speak for themselves and these 2 goaliths are not shy when it comes to awards and trophies. Combining the records achieved by both these exceptional players are stats that seems too good to be true. 1,177 goals in 1,464 games at club level - Ronaldo (592 goals, 793 games) 4 different clubs Messi (585 goals, 671 games) 1 club Record goalscorers both Club & International Level - Ronaldo (85 goals, 154 Caps Portugal) (450 goals, 438 games Real Madrid) Messi (65 goals, 128 games Argentina) (585 goals, 671 games Barcelona) Combined personal Awards - 268 Ronaldo - 135 Messi - 133 Both winning the Ballon D'or a record 5 times. Combined Trophies at club level - 58 Messi - 32 Ronaldo - 26 Since Ronaldo joined Real Madrid in 2009 - 40 Messi - 25 Ronaldo - 15 Combined Champions League Goals - 228 in 293 games Ronaldo - 122 in 163 games Messi - 106 in 130 games Ronaldo's notable achievements - - Only player to score 50 or more goals in 6 consecutive seasons - Only player to score 60+ goals in a calendar year for 4 consecutive years. Messi's notable achievements - - World record 91 goals for both club and country in a single calendar year in 2012 - Only player to win more than 1 Club World Cup golden boot Considering all these records, these 2 players will forever go down as Legends. We may never see a battle quite like this ever again and we may never see players destroy records like both Ronaldo and Messi have done over the years. Stats will forever remain and this will forever go down as one of the greatest battles between players in footballing history. There is no comparing these players in their prime, as we are living in the moment of 2 of footballs greatest ever players. But as always, fans will forever be divided as to who is the better player. Should we just appreciate the players while they are still playing? Should we argue as to who was better when both these players retire? Share your thoughts about this feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  2. Lionel Messi has described Argentina's dramatic 2-1 win over Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup as "a huge release and relief". The Albiceleste camp had been the subject of numerous stories and rumours ever since the disastrous 3-0 defeat by Croatia, with the team called "the worst ever". A change to a back four against the Super Eagles brought about a much-improved first-half display, and they led at the break through Messi's expertly taken goal. Victor Moses' second-half penalty threatened to derail that improvement, but Marcos Rojo's late strike earned Argentina passage into the knockouts and a last-16 tie with France. "We have suffered a lot, it was a difficult situation," the Barcelona talisman told reporters at full time. "It was a huge release and relief for all of us. "We have watched every France game - we have watched every game of this World Cup. France are a very good side with skilled players, very fast players who can really make a difference." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  3. Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli has issued an apology to his nation's fans for the 3-0 loss to Croatia and said his tactics are to blame for Lionel Messi's poor form at the 2018 World Cup. The Barcelona star has had more shots than any other player so far at this World Cup, but has failed to score with any of them. The Albiceleste are on the brink of elimination following Thursday's humbling defeat to Croatia in Group D, in stark contrast to Cristiano Ronaldo's blistering form for Portugal. Sampaoli said: "I think Cristiano is a great player - you can look at all he has achieved as a player with his club and his country. "Right now we shouldn't compare these two players. I think because of the reality of the Argentinian squad, it clouds Leo's brilliance. "Leo is limited because the team doesn't gel ideally with him as it should. "As coaches, we need to realise these things and try to deal with them and I'm the one that needs to accept it." Argentina have picked up just one point from their opening two matches against Iceland and Croatia and must now beat Nigeria in their final match and hope other results go their way if they are to progress. "I don't know about shame, but I definitely feel pain," Sampaoli added. "It's been a long time as a coach since I've been through this experience and it's much more painful when I'm wearing the jersey of my country. "Our plan for this match didn't work out and we need to see what happens and put everything we have into the last opportunity to fight and give it our all. We have no other alternative. "There's pain because we weren't at the level that the Argentinian people expect of us." He added: "I beg for the fans' forgiveness. Especially for those that make the great efforts to travel and see Argentina. "I am responsible for this result. I was just as dreamy-eyed as any fan and I am hurt by this result. I believe I did the best job I could and I quite simply did not find a way to give them what they wanted." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  4. Argentina captain Lionel Messi has stated that his international future will be determined by his country's performance at the World Cup in Russia. Messi has swept the board in terms of awards with Barcelona but his tally with the Albiceleste has been stuck on one Under-20 World Cup and an Olympic gold medal for the past 10 years. Argentina famously lost three finals in a row across the Copa America and the 2014 World Cup, which saw him retire at international level before backtracking on the decision. "It will depend on how far we go, how we're going to finish" at the finals, Messi said in an interview with Spanish daily Sport. "We've just lost three finals in a row, which has led to us going through some difficult moments with the press. "Notably with the Argentine press because we have differences of opinion over what it means to make these three finals." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  5. Lionel Messi has won a European Union court battle to register his surname as a trademark to sell sports equipment and clothing. The Barcelona and Argentina striker fought a seven-year fight to be able to use his name on sports goods. His original application was challenged by the Spanish cycling brand, Massi, which argued that the names were too similar and would cause confusion. However, EU's second-highest court ruled on Thursday that Messi is famous enough to overcome phonetic similarities with Massi. The case reached the EU General Court after the brand successfully complained to the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The EUIPO said that Messi and Massi were almost identical visually and phonetically and some would find it difficult to tell the two apart, but the court disagreed. "Mr Messi is, in fact, a well-known public figure who can be seen on television and who is regularly discussed on television or on the radio," the court said. Massi can still appeal the decision at the EU Court of Justice. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  6. Argentina star Lionel Messi has stressed that the upcoming World Cup in Russia is the last chance for the nation's current group of players to win the famed trophy. The Barcelona talisman has been irresistible at club level in terms of silverware, which in stark conntrast to his meagre trophy haul at international level. Messi and Argentina have suffered heartbreak in three consecutive major international finals: the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 and 2016 editions of the Copa America. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner turns 31 in June, and fellow key players Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria, Nicolas Otamendi and Javier Mascherano will all be 30 or over when the World Cup kicks off. "I cried many times because of games like these, for lost finals, for what they mean and for not being able to achieve the dream of a country," Messi told Argentine television program "La Cornisa." "They [the three finals] were tough blows. It seems like having reached three finals doesn't help us at all. We depend on the results, unfortunately. We feel that if we are not champions ... we will not have another. "I want to tell people that I hope it's a great World Cup for us, that my wish is the same as all of you and that we can live something similar to 2014, which was an unforgettable experience, and that the result is similar but this time raising the cup is everyone's dream." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  7. Barcelona have confirmed that Lionel Messi has been ruled out of Saturday night’s La Liga trip to Malaga for "personal reasons". Messi was rested for the Catalan Super Cup clash with Espanyol in midweek but was expected to play on Saturday after training with his teammates on Friday. Indeed, the Argentine was named in the Blaugrana squad on Friday but will now miss the game, with Yerry Mina taking his place in the travelling party. The club tweeted on Saturday morning: "[LAST MINUTE] Change to the squad. Messi is out for personal reasons and Yerry Mina takes his place." According to Spanish outlet AS, Messi's wife Antonella gave birth to their third child overnight. Messi has started every game for Barca in the league this season except for one, against Espanyol when he came on as a sub, and has five goals and two assists in his last five games. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  8. Lionel Messi’s Barcelona teammate Ivan Rakitic is upbeat about the chances of Croatia against Argentina and believes anything is possible at the World Cup. Rakitic and Messi are set to clash in the second Group D match on June 21 in Nizhny Novgorod later this year. The 29-year-old, who has played alongside Messi in the La Liga for the past 4 years, does not see Messi being worried at the prospect of meeting Croatia. "I do not think he gets nervous if I say 'watch Croatia!'", he told Marca. "It's the World Cup, you want to play against the best. And if it is against the best of all times, well better. That's what a World Cup is for. "I wish a lot. I think we've been the strongest group of all. Croatia has never had so many players in so many important teams, playing and setting the pace." Rakitic has been an integral part of the Croatian national team since making his debut, going on to win 88 caps and scoring 13 goals in the process. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  9. It's that time of the year - Christmas and New Year are nearly upon us, most of the holidays take place, but they all must step aside for the biggest football event on earth, El Clasico. General info The spectacle takes place at the Bernabeu on Saturday, 13:00 CET (12pm GMT). Real Madrid host an in-form Barca side in one last push to save the league. The current standings look like this: Team Points GD GP Barcelona 42 35 16 Atl. Madrid 36 18 16 Valencia 34 20 16 Real Madrid 31 19 15 If Barcelona win, even if it's just December, it would be safe to say the league is out of Madrid's reach, so it's crucial for Madrid to get a win and get back in title race. Injuries and suspensions Real Madrid It's happy days in the medical department at Real, as there are no injured first team players. The defence took a big hit during the season, missing Dani Carvajal and Raphael Varane with injuries and Sergio Ramos with suspension, but now, they're all fully fit and eligible. Bale is fully fit, too, and is expected to start on Saturday. Barcelona Barcelona took some hits in the last month that could really harm them in the upcoming fixture. Samuel Umtiti got injured in a match against Celta (and conceded a goal in the same sequence). He was one of the best players this season, and, although Thomas Vermalen looks solid, he's nowhere near as good as the Frenchman. Javier Mascherano has recovered, and will be ready for the derby as far as physical condition comes, but it's more complex situation for him, as he's just confirmed he will join Chinese side "Hebei Fortune" to play with Ezequiel Lavezzi under Manuel Pellegrini. The midfield is pretty crowded and everyone is hoping to get a chance in the starting 11. As far as the attackers go, Paco Alcacer got injuried yesterday, and will be out for 2-3 weeks, which is pretty big handicap for Blaugrana when you look at his contributions this season. Gerard Deulofeu is out with injury too, but that won't bother Barca fans too much. Ousmane Dembele won't play until January and Rafinha still isn't match fit. Line-ups Real Madrid Most of the calendar year, Madrid's formation and tactics depended on injuries with Bale being sidelined most of the year. Now that everyone is fully fit, it will be very interesting to see how Zinedine Zidane will react, as he can bench Isco and start with BBC or play with Isco with Benzema and Ronaldo upfront. This is the most realistic and expected line-up: Navas Carvajal-Ramos-Varane-Marcelo Modric-Casemiro-Kroos Bale-Benzema-Ronaldo We should definitely expect Isco, Asensio or Lucas to make an impact off the bench depending on the result; Lucas for defending the lead, and Asensio and Isco for pushing further forward. Barcelona Valverde did the unspeakable in Catalonia - he changed his formation from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2. And who would've thought, but Barca are playing better and better, with +11 and 1st placed in CL group. The formation is pretty much dictated by roster, where, at the moment, there isn't a wing player with creative on-ball skill with Dembele out. Deulofeu, Vidal and Paco were used primarily as runners to stretch the field and involve in finishes. Valverde doesn't seem pleased with Semedo, leaving him out of squad for Deportivo clash, and it's likely he won't see playing time in El Clasico. Considering all of that, It's not such a hard task to predict the starting 11: ter Stegen Roberto-Pique-Vermalen-Alba Rakitic-Busquets-Paulinho-Iniesta Messi-Suarez As far as bench comes, in case of chasing the result, Valverde could likely call-up Denis Suarez who proved as a great off-the-bench influence. Most probable defensive option is Gomes, mostly known for good workrate and solid defensive positioning. Tactical solutions It will be very interesting to see how both coaches enter the match. Real starting with BBC could result in fast-paced, counter-attacking game that provided some good results for Real in recent years. It's probable Zidane will demand of his attacking trio to press high up the pitch, using man-marking and allowing Vermalen to create with the ball. Paulinho could provide to be crucial factor, as he was utility man for Barca this season, and if he can adjust to playing on the ball and setting up the tempo with Busquets, Iniesta and Rakitic, it would provide as crucial for Barca. Valverde could start the game in deep, and moving further up the field as the game goes on, and he'll definitely must be careful in going forward with BBC all lurking for counter-attacking opportunity. Madrid will certianly want to exploit Vermaelen, who still hasn't had the time to completely fit in. Transition is the name of the game on Saturday, and sprinting back on defense will be crucial, with Real Madrid having Kroos and Modric who open up the play with amazing ease, and Barcelona having Iniesta and Messi to lighten up the pitch. Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  10. Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has claimed that his latest Ballon d'Or award confirms his status as "the best player in history". The Portugal international was crowned the world's best player for a fifth time on Thursday evening, taking him level with Barcelona forward Lionel Messi. Ronaldo added another Champions League and La Liga crown to his collection last season and was also named the best male player at the 2017 Best FIFA Football Awards. As such, the 32-year-old believes that he should now be considered the greatest of all time. "I'm the best player in history, in the good moments and the bad ones," he told France Football. "I respect everyone's preferences, but I've never seen anyone better than me. I have always thought that. No footballer can do the things I can. There's no player more complete than me. "I play well with both feet, I'm quick, powerful, good with the head, I score goals, I make assists. There are guys who prefer Neymar or Messi. But I tell you: there's no one more complete than me. "No one has won as many individual trophies as me. And I'm not speaking just of the Ballon d'Or. That says something, doesn't it? It's not just a result of the work I do in the gym, like some people think. It's the sum of many things. "Legends like Floyd Mayweather and LeBron James don't get to their perfect level by chance. Many factors coincide. To be at the top and to stay there, you have to have more talent than the others." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  11. Lionel Messi has ended speculation about his future by signing a new contract with Barcelona until 2021. A renewal had been agreed between player and club in July but it is only now that Messi has put pen to paper on the contract. The 30-year-old Argentina international's deal now runs until the end of the 2020-21 season and includes a £626m buy-out clause. Since joining the club at the age of 13 from Argentinian side Newell's Old Boys, Messi has helped Barcelona win eight Spanish league titles and won the Champions League four times, alongside becoming the club's talisman. The forward, whose previous deal was due to expire next year, has scored 523 goals in 602 appearances for the club. On Friday, Messi was presented with his fourth Golden Shoe award for being the top scorer in Europe, while his 30 titles put him alongside his team-mate Andres Iniesta as the most anyone has won in club history. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  12. Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli said that football "owed the World Cup" to Lionel Messi after the Barcelona forward scored a hat-trick to lead his country past Ecuador 3-1 in Quito and earn a spot in the 2018 tournament in Russia. The visitors went into the final match of the campaign in sixth place and outside the qualifying positions, and the prospect of failing to qualify for the biggest stage in football for the first time since 1970 became even more real when Ecuador took the lead inside the first minute. Messi, however, helped Argentina overcome an early deficit to rally for victory, scoring twice before half-time and adding his third after the break to seal the win. The hat trick took Messi to 21 career CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying goals, breaking Hernan Crespo's record of 19, a feat his Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez also did on Tuesday when he struck twice in a win for Uruguay against Bolivia. After the match, Sampaoli told a new conference: "I told the group: Messi did not owe the World Cup to Argentina, but football owed the World Cup to Messi. The nationality of the best player in the world is luckily Argentine.' "Football, the World Cup, could not be left without Messi. We had to play with that in mind. As a consequence of that pressure, we are stronger now, this qualification will make us stronger to face the future. "We had the possibility to help him to be in another World Cup. He is the best player in the history of soccer and I'm very excited to be in a group near him." "Fortunately everything went well and we are into the World Cup. We are calm now after achieving the main goal, that is the most important thing. All this time that we were away from the press and the fans helped us to be closer. "It would have been crazy a World Cup without Argentina, this group didn't deserve it. The team will change, will grow a lot and will come out stronger. "It was a relief because we were in a tough spot. We got ourselves into this mess. It was not easy to play here, a lot of things happen from my mind when the 0-1 came, but the group overcame the situation very well and was quick to take the lead. "There was some fear of missing the World Cup. We let pass a lot of opportunities and we had to decide our future in this game. We had to qualify, now it's time to enjoy."
  13. Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has claimed that new deals have been agreed with Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta. Doubt has lingered over both players' futures at the Nou Camp, with Iniesta continuing to suggest that he is unsure whether to remain at the club. Terms appeared to have been agreed with Messi in July, when the club announced in a statement that he had extended his deal until 2021, but a formal contract signing has yet to have been arranged. Three days on from sporting director Robert Fernandez claiming that the situation was being dealt with, Bartomeu has now stressed that both men are staying put. "Messi? He has a four-year contract. He's the best ever and played for us since he was small and we enjoy watching him play because he's unique," he told reporters. "Contracts for Messi and Iniesta? The club members can rest easy. We've already said Messi's renewal is signed and that he'll be at Barca for as long as he wants, the same with Iniesta. "[Iniesta] has extraordinary quality. He was here when Ronaldinho was and now he's with Messi. He's crucial for us, he had a great game. "Starting with three wins and conceding none is something that hadn't happened for years. We've started with enthusiasm and excited the club members. It's to Ernesto Valverde's credit." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  14. Paulo Dybala says he is "very happy" to remain a part of Juventus's long-term plans, despite interest from Barcelona. The Argentina international is understood to have been on the Catalan club's radar in the summer after another impressive campaign in which he helped the Bianconeri to a sixth-successive Serie A crown and a Coppa Italia. Agent Mino Raiola suggested on Monday that the 23-year-old will eventually depart Juventus for another European heavyweight, with Real Madrid also said to have shown an interest over the past 18 months. Dybala appears to be content in Turin for the time being, though, telling reporters: "Nobody has said anything to me [about a Barca bid]. The club never came to me to say there was an offer on the table. "The only thing the club said to me is that they want me to be part of this project for a long time, and I'm happy about that. As long as the club and the president want me at Juve, that's where I'll be." Asked about the prospect of linking up with Lionel Messi at the Nou Camp, Dybala added: "He's already my teammate for Argentina but I'm really good at Juventus, although I don't know what's going to happen in the future. I'm very happy to wear an important shirt like the number 10." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  15. Gerard Pique has claimed that he knew Neymar was going to leave Barcelona when he tweeted that the Brazil forward was staying at the Nou Camp. The 25-year-old completed a world-record move from the Nou Camp to Paris Saint-Germain on August 3, 11 days after Pique had tweeted a photo of the pair with the caption "se queda" - "he's staying". Speaking at a press conference, Pique said: "At [Lionel] Messi's wedding [at the end of June], I had an idea that he might leave. In pre-season, again, he said he would leave. "When I wrote the 'he's staying' tweet, I knew 100 per cent that he was leaving. "I know that he has his reasons, they could be financial, or it could be to be the best player in the world. "He shouldn't be judged, he's a brave player. He performed extraordinarily for us. "He hasn't disappointed me, and I don't regret the 'he's staying' tweet. Everything has a reason, and I wanted to use social media because that's an instrument I have. "I wanted to help the club, and at least I tried, even though I knew he had made his decision." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  16. Barcelona forward Neymar has revealed his delight after Lionel Messi signed a new long-term deal with the Spanish giants. The Argentine star re-signed with the Blaugrana last week, international penning a new four-year contract at the Nou Camp. There were suggestions that Messi could look to leave Spain amid tax issues, but Neymar is "very happy" that the "best in the world" has decided to sign a fresh contract. "I'm very happy to have the best in the world with us," Neymar told reporters. "It's complicated to think about football without him." Neymar also called on his club to sign Guangzhou Evergrande midfielder Paulinho this summer. The Brazilian is close friends with the 28-year-old, and the forward has stated that Barcelona would "win a lot" if they managed to sign the former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder. "Paulinho is a friend that I have in football," he told AS. "I want him to sign for Barca because with a player like him, who is a friend too, we are going to win a lot." Share your thoughts on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the conversation.
  17. Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has signed a three-year contract extension at the club. With the Argentine's previous deal expiring in 2018, there had been speculation over whether he would remain at the Nou Camp or cut ties with the club where he has played at senior level since 2004/05. However, despite having the opportunity to move on at the end of the next campaign, Messi has opted to commit his future to the Catalan giants until 2021. "The club is very happy with both the renewal and the commitment of Messi, the best player in history," Barca said in a statement. "He has played his full professional career at Barca and has led the team to an era of extraordinary success, the likes of which has never been seen in world football." It has been reported that there is a release clause of €300m (£263.1m) in Messi's contract, while both parties have the option of adding another 12 months to his terms. In total, Messi has scored 507 goals in 583 in all competitions, with eight La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns among his achievements at the club. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  18. Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has claimed that suggestions of a bad relationship with Barcelona's Lionel Messi are completely false. Ronaldo and Messi are widely regarded as two of the best players in the history of football, and the La Liga duo have broken a number of records at their respective clubs over the last few seasons. Ronaldo has admitted that he is "not Messi's friend", but the Portuguese also says his supposed long-running rivalry with the Argentina international is a myth. "I'm not Messi's friend, but we're fellow professionals," Ronaldo told Fox Sports. "We've shared many moments at award ceremonies in the last 10 years, and I have a very good relationship with him. "We don't eat out together, but I respect him. He's a fellow professional of mine, not a rival. It's one more issue for the press, which want to sell papers and do their business. "Watching Messi play? Of course I like it, I like to watch all the good players and he's one of them, he's a 'crack'. I enjoy watching him play. How can I not like a person who hasn't done anything wrong, on the contrary? "When Messi is asked about Cristiano, he also speaks well of me. My relationship with him is cordial and we respect each other." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  19. FIFA has rescinded Lionel Messi's four-game international ban for Argentina after an appeal. The Barcelona frontman was handed the ban in March after it was alleged that he had insulted to an official during their 1-0 triumph over Chile. Messi denied making the comments and launched an appeal against the ban as well as the accompanying £8,100 fine. In a statement, FIFA confirmed: "The FIFA appeal committee has upheld the appeal lodged by the Argentinian Football Association, on behalf of the player Lionel Messi, against the decision taken by the Fifa disciplinary committee, lifting the sanctions imposed on him as a result. "Despite the fact that the FIFA Appeal Committee considered Lionel Messi's behaviour as reproachable, the former concluded that the evidence available was not sufficient to establish to the appropriate standard, i.e. to the comfortable satisfaction of the members of the Appeal Committee, that art. 77 a) of the FDC, according to which the Disciplinary Committee is responsible for sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials' attention, could be applied. "The Appeal Committee nevertheless underlines the importance of always showing respect to the match officials, stressing that such a principle is essential in football and any unsporting conduct that may be contrary to the principles of fair play cannot be accepted." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  20. Barcelona have defended Lionel Messi after he was hit with a four-game international ban by FIFA. The 29-year-old is not permitted to compete for Argentina during the length of the suspension after he allegedly directed an expletive-ridden rant at a match official during the 1-0 win over Chile last week. The incident was not included in the referee's post-match report, but FIFA has stepped in to take action, which includes handing the Barcelona star an £8,100 fine. Barca were not impressed with the ruling, and have released a statement reading: "FC Barcelona expresses its surprise and indignation at the ex officio action by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee by suspending the player Leo Messi following the FIFA World Cup qualifying fixture between Argentina and Chile. "The club considers the four-match suspension finally imposed on the Argentine player to be unfair and totally disproportionate. "Finally, FC Barcelona wishes to reiterate its support for Leo Messi, an exemplary player in terms of conduct both on and off the pitch." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the conversation.
  21. Lionel Messi has insisted that he will stay at Barcelona as long as the club wants him there. The Spanish champions recently agreed extensions with Luis Suarez and Neymar, but are yet to reach a deal with Messi, whose contract runs until 2018. Barca's CEO Oscar Grau has suggested spending caps imposed by La Liga could affect what they are able to offer Messi. But the 29-year-old told Coach Magazine: "I have always said that Barcelona has given me everything and I am here for as long as they want me to be." There has been much speculation on Messi's future, with reports of the Argentine being ready to leave the Nou Camp for a variety of reasons. A number of clubs, including Pep Guardiola's Manchester City, have reportedly been monitoring his situation at Barca. Share your thoughts about this story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the conversation.
  22. Uruguay forward Luis Suarez has agreed a new five-year contract with Barcelona. The 29-year-old, who joined the Nou Camp from Liverpool in the summer of 2014, has scored 97 times in 116 matches for the Spanish giants. Suarez, who has a buyout clause of £167.5m in the new deal, was delighted to have renewed terms and urged Lionel Messi to join him in committing his future to the club. "I am feeling overjoyed about being where I want to be. I feel very happy," he said in a statement. "It was the decision that we all wanted, both the club and me, we have a great relationship. "Any player would want to end their career at a club where they feel comfortable. We'll have to see, but I will never lose either my ambition or my enthusiasm. "My happiness will be complete if Leo renews as well." Share your thoughts about this story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the conversation.
  23. Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has started talks with the defending Spanish champions about a new contract, while striker Luis Suarez is set to sign a new deal until 2022. The 29-year-old Argentine is already contracted to the club until June 2018, and Barca boss Luis Enrique said he "celebrated" the fact negotiations were under way. "It makes me more relaxed," he added. Uruguay's Suarez, also 29, is close to extending his stay at the Nou Camp. "It's done, just a few small details need to be sorted and we'll announce it in the next few days or weeks," said Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu. "We want Luis Suarez to stay at the club for many more years. For us, he is an important character." Suarez won last season's European Golden Shoe - awarded to Europe's top scorer in domestic football - after netting 40 league goals. He, Messi - Barca's all-time top scorer, and Neymar scored a combined 131 goals in all competitions as they won La Liga and the Copa del Rey. Share your thoughts about this story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the conversation.
  24. The biggest game in all of club football is finally upon us once again as Barcelona and Real Madrid go head to head in La Liga for the first El Clasico of the season. Barcelona are in desperate need to strike back and recover from their recent dip in form, while Real Madrid want to keep their streak of 13 undefeated games going. There are a fair few points to play for still, but for the Catalan giants it will be crucial denying the Galacticos the ten point gap they are trying to create. Here’s a few things to look out for in the days and hours leading up to the match, and of course while enjoying one of the best derbies football has to offer: Home advantage might not be an advantage: Barcelona’s mighty Nou Camp has been a feared stadium for visitors in the past, but this season has seen them both overthrown by Alaves, and held to ties by Atletico Madrid and Malaga in recent matches. The fear factor is definitely not gone, but seeing Barcelona being the 11th best home team in the league does something to the psychological view of the visitors, while also deteriorating the confidence of Barcelona players. With Real Madrid picking up five wins and a draw away so far, their form is looking like it could add to their 93 competitive wins against their bitter rivals throughout history. Two star players to talk about: No, this time the attention is not first and foremost on the two undoubtedly best players in the world, but rather on their partners in crime. Gareth Bale is suffering an injury blow, rumours are saying he’ll be out for months. How big of a blow will that be for Zinedine Zidane’s starting eleven? For Barcelona it seems Neymar is a bit unsettled, with reports linking him to Manchester United. Now, normally such a claim would not even be worthy of thought, but looking at the reason for these rumours flourishing, there’s cause of concern. Neymar is having some trouble with the law, more specifically the tax office, which in one way or another is bound to affect him and his private life. Questions have to be made about whether he can keep his calm and focus on performing on the pitch for his club. The other two star players who have to be mentioned: Here we go, yet again, the duel of the two dominant forces of European football. The modern day maestros, doing things with a ball we couldn’t even imagine before they made their debuts. Records are being broken, almost weekly. Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more than 30 goals in a calendar year for the seventh time running, a feat no-one will surpass in our lifetime. Lionel Messi, meanwhile, has some kind of unexplainable magic power, making him float and swirl across the pitch untouchable. So, who will come out on top? Ronaldo is undoubtedly in a patch of luck at the moment, he’s enjoying his football, and avoiding any tantrums drawing attention to the demanding side of his personality. As of now, he plays like he’s in his twenties again, and will do everything in his power to dominate this match. Messi, on the other hand, has been slightly injured for parts of this season, and needs to regain match fitness and form. This match is his for the taking though, and with his abilities he’ll be a constant threat. With Andres Iniesta, Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique also training with the squad after returning from injury this week, Barcelona could field their strongest side since the start of the season. It is a doubt however, if Messi will be ready, and if he’ll be his usual self, if he is, he can cause problems for the Madridistas - on the pitch and watching the match. Prediction: Tough one to call this, and it could certainly go either way. A nagging feeling in the back of my head does say though that Barcelona will win, maybe even with a couple of goals. The boost returning players give on the pitch and by participating in training cannot be underestimated. Real Madrid’s winning streak also has to come to an end at some point, and it would be trademark Real for it to do so away to their arch nemesis. A player with the work rate of Gareth Bale will be sorely missed, and I think MSN will be up and running like clockwork come Saturday. My prediction is a 3-1 win for Barcelona, which will go down in history as the turning point of their season, and the first defeat for Zidane in the league this season. Share your thoughts about El Clasico on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the conversation.
  25. Lionel Messi could let his Barcelona contract run out and make a decision on his future only once his deal expires in 2018, according to reports. According to Spanish newspaper Marca, the five-time Ballon d'Or winner turned down a contract renewal in July over concerns regarding his tax fraud case. The report suggests that Messi saw his family unfairly prosecuted and targeted in a smear campaign by the Spanish authorities, with a legal complaint to be heard between January and June 2017. As a result, he is reportedly holding fire on signing a new deal until this is out of the way and once he has had time to think things through. Messi was given a 21-month sentence after being found guilty of three counts of tax evasion but did not serve jail time. A number of clubs, including Manchester City, are said to be monitoring the player's situation at Barca. Share your thoughts about this story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the conversation.

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