Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are nearly always complimentary about one another in interviews.
With eleven Ballon d’Or awards between them, the eternal rivals naturally share a huge amount of respect.
Only very rarely has the mask slipped down the years.
The competition between two of the all-time greats was at its fiercest when they were going toe-to-toe in La Liga between 2009–2018.
El Clásico boasted an added spice as Ronaldo and Messi fought for dominance and just occasionally, one of them would inadvertently reveal that they relished the rivalry as much as the rest of the watching world.
Gerard Pique’s own goal gave Real the lead before Messi equalised from the spot.
Then Ronaldo, having come on as a substitute, raced clear, dipped into the box and curled the ball into the corner of the net.
It was a fine strike and had a celebration to match – except it wasn’t really Ronaldo’s celebration at all.
The Portuguese wheeled away and took off his shirt, before lifting it into the sky in front of the Barcelona fans at Camp Nou.
Sound familiar? It was supposed to, as it was of course a copy of Messi’s infamous move after scoring against Real in April 2017, when he taunted opposition supporters with his jersey.
Both goals can be seen in the video below:
You might say that the Argentine had the last laugh, though, even if Real Madrid won 3-1 on this occasion thanks, in part, to Ronaldo’s goal.
Both players received a yellow card for the celebration but Ronaldo’s would prove more costly.
Later on that night, already on a booking, he was sent off when referee Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea adjudged he had gone down far too easily inside the box.
To make matters worse, the Madrid forward then proceeded to push the official, earning himself a retrospective five-match ban.
So all in all, rubbing salt in Barcelona’s wounds and making a statement towards Messi was probably more trouble than it was worth.
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