World football’s biggest debate of the decade resurfaced once again this past week.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, not for the first time, stole the show in round of 16 action in the UEFA Champions League – Ronaldo hitting a hat-trick in Juventus’ improbable turnaround against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, 14 March, and Messi following up the next day with two goals and two assists in Barcelona’s 5-1 thumping of Lyon.
It meant fans across the globe were back trying to answer the same question: Who is the greater of the two, and as a by-product, the greatest of this generation?
One man who features high on the Greatest-of-All-Time list, universally, is Diego Maradona – and the Argentine maestro has weighed in on the debate.
“There are players who are touched by the magic wand,” Maradona, who is presently coaching Mexican club Dorados, told Marca.
"“The truth is that us Argentines are proud that Messi is Argentinian and did not go with the Spanish. The other is an animal.”" - Diego Maradona
The 1986 World Cup winner and FIFA’s Player of the 20th Century (a mantle Maradona shares with Brazilian legend Pele) went on to elaborate his assessment of Ronaldo, who he reckons is now a “sorcerer”.
"“Ronaldo is pure power and is now also a sorcerer. He said that he’d score three goals, and he scored three goals.”" - Diego Maradona
Ronaldo’s treble in Turin on Tuesday saw Juventus overturn a 2-0 defeat in the first leg at Atletico to book their berth in the quarter-finals of a competition the Italian giants are aiming to win after 23 years. The Portuguese 33-year-old had netted only once in six Champions League outings since joining Juve from Real Madrid in the summer, but silenced any detractors with yet another stellar show in a crunch game, taking his tally of knockout goals in the competition up to 63.
Not to be outdone, Messi contributed to four of Barcelona’s five goals at home against Lyon en route entering the quarters – the first of his two goals an audacious ‘Panenka’ penalty.
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