Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has named the six toughest opponents he has faced during his career so far.
The four-time Ballon d'Or winner, considered by some as the greatest footballer of all time, named club teammates Neymar, Andres Iniesta and Xavi amongst the six. He then set his sights away from the Camp Nou, naming Bayern Munich duo Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery, along with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi refused to select one player in particular as the toughest opponent he has faced, saying it was too difficult a task.
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“Wow, that is a difficult one," Messi told Squawka when asked to name his toughest opponent. “I don’t want to single one out, but I’d say that I’m happy that most of them play for Barcelona and I’ve only played against them internationally.
“I’ve faced Neymar, Iniesta and Xavi, and they are very tough. And of course there is Cristiano, Robben and Ribery. But I can’t pick one.”
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Messi focuses on attack-minded players
Interestingly, Messi failed to name a single defensive player amongst the six, focusing instead on attack-minded players like himself.
The Argentina international is always keen to acknowledge his teammates' respective qualities during interviews, while Robben, Ribery and Ronaldo were all relatively unsurprising picks.
Despite the competitive rivalry that undoubtedly exists between Messi and Ronaldo, there is a mutual respect. They have always complimented each others' qualities in public, while stopping short of claiming the other is currently the world's best player.
It's a debate they are more than happy to leave to the public.
Messi early favourite to win 2015 Ballon d'Or
While Ronaldo thoroughly deserved his Ballon d'Or for 2014, Messi has been the world's outstanding player in the first half of 2015.
The 27-year-old ended the 2014-15 campaign with a magnificent 58 goals from 56 matches - and while this was three goals short of Ronaldo's tally, Messi - unlike his Real Madrid counterpart, with the exception of the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup - ends the season with major team honours to his name.
Messi has already helped Barcelona wrap up La Liga and the Copa del Rey, and can finish the campaign with his fourth Champions League winners' medal if Barcelona defeat Juventus in Berlin on Saturday evening.
He will then travel to Chile for the Copa America, which Argentina will be desperate to win, having failed to win a major trophy since 1993.
Will Lionel Messi win the 2015 Ballon d'Or - or will Cristiano Ronaldo win the award for a joint-record fourth time? Have your say in the comments below!
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