Sunday 24 February 2019

Stephanie Roche: I have always preferred Ronaldo to Messi, but the Argentinian's brilliance is a joy to behold

Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates
Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates

Stephanie Roche

Over the last few years I've always been a Ronaldo over Messi fan but watching the Barcelona star dismantle Bayern Munich (and poor Jerome Boateng) the way he did on Wednesday night was just brilliant to watch.

There's just no set way to defend against him, many have tried and failed to stop him. It's really hard not to admire his ability to ghost past defenders like they're not even there, even if it's your team he's doing it to.

He's that good that he makes it look like players playing against him aren't trying hard enough (we've all shouted 'tackle him' t the TV at least once, myself on more than one occasion!), but they are trying.

It's just they can't stop him. I'm a Manchester United fan and went to watch the Wembley final in 2011 where they beat United 3-1 with Messi scoring the second goal which was actually very similar to his first against Bayern on Wednesday night.

I remember the silence after the game, usually I'd give out and say they should have closed him down quicker, he shouldn't have had so much space. But he's Messi, he's going to find space no matter what players do, that's why he's one of the greatest players to ever play the game. I think after that game the silence said it all, Man United were beaten by a better team on the night.

Bayern Munich have a mammoth task in trying to come back from a 3-0 aggregate score, yes they made a remarkable comeback against Porto in the quarter final second leg, but with all due respect Porto are no Barcelona.

Barcelona are stacked up front and with Suarez and Neymar alongside Messi I can't see them not scoring at least once in the Allianz Arena. I think had Robert Lewandowski scored with that great opportunity it would have given Bayern an inkling of hope but 3-0 is a tough score line to catch Luis Enrique's side.

Both second-leg games are going to be very interesting. I think a lot of the so called 'neutrals' have been hoping for a Real v Barcelona final for a while, it came close last year with them both avoiding each other in the last four only to see Atletico Madrid upset Barcelona.

With Ronaldo scoring that vital away goal in Turin it gives Real Madrid hope of turning around the 2-1 deficit and with that same man bringing his own magic to Real Madrid, who could rule out another all Spanish final?

If so, will it live up to the hype or will both teams just cancel each other out. One thing's for sure, with Messi and Ronaldo on the pitch were surely going to see some of that 'magic''. First both teams need to focus on doing their job in their respective semi-final second legs. In particular Real Madrid who will face a tough Juventus team who, like a lot of Italian teams in the past will put up a hard fight defensively. With Carlos Tevez wreaking havoc in attack they could very well hold onto their lead and spoil Madrid's chances of retaining their European crown.

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