Lionel Messi vs. Marcelo: A Rivalry Of Blood, Tears And Body Feints
The comparison will always be between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. We’ve all accepted that, we all read endless articles about it — content to feed the beast that compares and contrasts two players that are hugely different in almost every area besides their unparalleled success and unmatched statistics.
That’s what makes the practice enjoyable — its ease. You can directly compare the trophies, the goals, the assists and the way they go about accomplishing those things. There’s no one close to them in any category. But what if we collectively said to hell with that, let’s just appreciate them both. Let’s look at the real rivalries, the real mano-a-mano match ups that are actually worth our time. We never will, but let's just pretend with an open mind.
The comparison still wouldn’t work, there’s still no measuring up to the two greats, so people will scream obscenities at you about how so and so couldn't possibly be better than Messi or Ronaldo. But why doesn’t anyone ever talk about the world’s best at their relative positions who are constantly engaged in battle? In this case, the world's best attacker on the right vs. the world’s most complete defender on the left?
In this comparison, we could still talk about the greatest club rivalry in football (Barcelona vs. Real Madrid), and we’d also get to include one of the greatest rivalries in the international game (Argentina vs. Brazil). I’m talking about Lionel Messi bearing down on Marcelo and the Brazilian fullback doing the same in return.
I’m not saying Marcelo is better than Messi, don’t immediately start commenting that nonsense. What I’m saying is that they have an incredible rivalry, one that I enjoy infinitely more than having to listen to the Messi vs. Ronaldo debate.
Both Marcelo and Messi are 29, and they were both fast tracked to success at an early age. Messi, of course, made his Barcelona debut as a 16-year-old. Marcelo began with Fluminense aged 17, signing with Real Madrid at 18 and making his debut shortly after.
Since then, Messi and Marcelo have regularly crossed paths for club and country over the course of 10 seasons. Messi has become Barcelona’s greatest ever, while Marcelo has usurped Roberto Carlos as Real's best ever left fullback — that's Roberto Carlos' opinion at least.
Marcelo once declared that if he could take any player from Barcelona, he’d take Pedro. When representing Brazil, however, he’s told reporters that “Right now, Messi is the best player in the world and it is a pleasure to play against him.”
But they’ve also both used their attacking flair against each other in memorable ways.
Throwback to when Lionel Messi sent Marcelo back to the slumps of Brazil pic.twitter.com/3hFNrV0Bid— Barca World (@FCBarcelonaHome) May 16, 2017
And that’s what makes this worth our time and consideration. Marcelo’s ability to get forward on the left, he’s provided 25 La Liga assists in the last four seasons, as well as track back to attempt to help stop Messi makes it one of the greatest individual contests in the history of football.
Messi is Messi, but it’s probably time we start appreciating what Marcelo has done for Real Madrid and to pay closer attention to this battle in the next few years as both reach the height of their powers. Besides, Diego Maradona says that Messi and Ronaldo are the two best in La Liga but that Marcelo is third, and Diego always knows.