Messi vs Ronaldo: Chelsea's Thiago Silva ranks 10 toughest opponents he's ever faced

  • Kobe Tong

Thiago Silva is one of the greatest centre-backs of the modern era.

Across lucrative spells with AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain, Silva regularly held his own amongst the likes of Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique as arguably the greatest centre-half of the 2010s.

Even Silva himself would admit that those halcyon days are behind him, but you only have to look at his form for Chelsea this season to see that he’s still got plenty to offer at 36 years old.

Silva’s defensive expertise

Besides, countless world-class players have struggled to adjust to the Premier League in their prime, never mind at the age where icons such as Wayne Rooney have already hung up their boots.

As a result, Silva is rightfully revered as one of the best authorities on defending in world football and we don’t doubt that Chelsea players sit up and take note whenever he imparts his advice.

And during an interview with the Blues’ official website this week, the Brazilian legend gave a fascinating insight into his career by revealing the ten toughest opponents he’s ever faced.


Silva’s 10 toughest opponents ever

The premise alone is downright fascinating, I’m sure you’ll agree, but Silva went even further and ranked the ten forwards judging on his use of labels like ‘fourth-best’ and ‘the best’ where relevant.

So, be sure to kick back and embrace the footballing wisdom by checking out Silva’s ranking of his ten toughest opponents down below:

10. Angel Di Maria

“Di Maria because of his technical quality and his incredible left foot.”

9. Kylian Mbappe

“Mbappe because of his speed and also his technical quality.”

8. Didier Drogba

“Drogba because of his physical strength despite being incredibly strong he still has a lot of technical skill.”


7. Roberto Firmino

“[Roberto] Firmino, he has incredible technical quality. He is very intelligent in his movement that leaves defenders a bit lost.”

6. Romario

‘Romario because of his intelligence in the box. He’s the best I’ve seen in the box.”

5. Adriano

“Adriano, like Drogba, he’s an incredible physical force with an unbelievable powerful left-foot penalty shot.”

4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

“I’m going to say Ibrahimovic as the fourth there because he is a guy that inspired me and I think he has inspired many kids to inspire what they are doing.

“He was a black belt (in MMA) before he became a football and then after he found himself football. He’s a guy that I admire a lot.

“I had the chance to play with and against him and obviously he’s the fourth-best in my list.”


3. Neymar

“Neymar because of his class, intelligence and magic. He is a player that impresses me with his technical quality and his ability to create out of nowhere.”

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

“Cristiano because of his professionalism, his dedication and passion for football. He is a guy I really admire for his commitment and for everything he has achieved.”

1. Lionel Messi

“Messi, because he has incredible quality and a God-given gift and because of the professional he is. For me he is the best.”


A fascinating top ten

Ranking Firmino above Drogba isn’t exactly the best way to endear yourself to Chelsea fans, Thiago, but we’ll take your word for it seeing as you’ve gone head-to-head with them both.

And that’s exactly what makes Silva’s list so interesting because it’s not every day that you get to hear one of the greatest defenders of a generation talking about what it’s like to face these legendary forwards.

We might be able to put Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar and so forth through every statistical study imaginable, but nothing can ever compare to the actual feeling of having to play against them.


And when it comes to authorities on trying to stop players of a Ballon d’Or-winning quality, it’s hard to imagine many better than Silva, so we think this top ten will be revisited time and time again. 

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