Writing in his latest blog - now published by Kicca - Mata expressed his admiration for the four-time Ballon d’Or winner in his weekly La Liga round-up.
But the Spaniard also reserved special praise for Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who ended his recent goal drought in style: scoring five goals in an emphatic 6-0 victory over Espanyol.
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“Beating Atlético in the Calderón confirms that certain players, like Messi, are just on a different level,” Mata wrote. “They can change a game, no matter how tough it is.
“And another extraordinary player is Cristiano Ronaldo. He made history scoring five against Espanyol. And they said he was going through a goal drought…”
Messi is the world's best footballer
Messi started against Atletico on the substitutes’ bench after missing training on Friday to attend the birth of his second child, Mateo.
Luis Enrique took a risk by naming the world-class Argentina international amongst the substitutes, but it proved an inspired decision.
Barcelona won’t face many tougher fixtures this season than Atletico away at the Calderón, but goals from Neymar and Messi helped the reigning La Liga champions come from 1-0 down to secure all three points.
Messi has only managed to score one goal in his three La Liga appearances so far this season, but it’s safe to assume that the 28-year-old will put that right, now he’s finally off the mark, over the coming weeks.
However, now four goals behind Ronaldo, Messi has some catching up to do in the race for the Pichichi.
Will Lionel Messi score more goals than Cristiano Ronaldo this season? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!