Carlos Tevez has stoked the fires ahead of Manchester City's crucial Champions League showdown against Real Madrid tomorrow by claiming that he will always rank compatriot Lionel Messi as the best player in the world, ahead of Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.

Manchester City play hosts to the Spanish Champions at the Etihad Stadium tomorrow night hoping for their first win of the group stages, and three precious points that will keep their slim hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages alive.

The Citizens looked on course for a historic victory at the Bernebeu when the two teams met in European competition earlier this season, only for Ronaldo to strike a 90th goal to help Madrid record a 3-2 win.

Since then the Citizens have struggled against group rivals Ajax and Borussia Dortmund, and now face a battle to even secure a Europa League place from Group D.

Having got a close look at Ronaldo this season Tevez feels the Portuguese winger is right to consider himself as the best player in the world, but the Manchester City forward believes there is currently only contender fot that title.

"I think it is only right if Cristiano Ronaldo does believe he is the best in the world," Tevez told The Daily Mail.

"Any guy who gets 37-40 goals a season has a right to believe that, but if you push me I am always going to go on the side of Messi.

"Cristiano is one of the best players in the world and he will play in this game the way he always has done," added Tevez. "He does not seem to feel pressure. We will have to keep a special eye on him.

"I think that you have got to try and make sure he doesn’t get in behind you. Once he gets a chance to run at you he is very dangerous and he strikes the ball well too so you have to try and stop him further up the field."

Messi has been in sensational form this season, and is closing in on the record for most goals in a single calendar year.

German legend Gerd Muller set the current record at 85 goals in a year, while Messi has eight games to score the eight goals he requires to further cement his place in the record books.

The Barcelona forward can also become the second highest scorer in Champions League history tonight if he bags a hat-trick against Spartak Moscow, moving ahead of former Real Madrid and Manchester United forward Ruud van Nistelrooy.

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Football
Manchester City
Carlos Tevez
Premier League