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Messi v Ronaldo, Barcelona v Real Madrid, Arsenal v Chelsea - preview all the weekend Premier League & El Clasico action LIVE!
Preview all the weekend's football action LIVE! with Goal.com as we bring you the latest news, debate and analysis.

Hosted by Joe Wright

15:09 BST

20/04/2012

Another bolt from the Twitter blue here, as Odii Vincent asks: "What players do you think are better than cr7 and messi, Carlo?"

Carlo:  "I don't have long enough to go through all the players who I think are better than Ronaldo and Messi, but what I will say is that Ronaldo is certainly not in the top 50 players of all time, at least (a year ago I said 100). I think Messi is already in the Top 10 of all time, and has the potential to go higher. Messi could have played in any era at the same level, Ronaldo couldn't.

"The reason Messi is not higher is because of his poor international record. In two World Cups, Messi has scored just one goal. In two Copa Americas he has only scored 2 goals. He recently went two and a half years without scoring a competitive goal. He has only scored 9 competitive goals for Argentina. Again, is this record good enough to be considered the greatest of all time? I don't think so. Until he proves himself for Argentina, he can't be considered better than someone like Maradona."

I guess that one couldn't be further from said fence...
 

15:05 BST

20/04/2012

We've still got half an hour to go in Goal.com international's LIVE! Clasico Q&A, and it's Martin who's on the spot now as Imoleayo ifatujosin asks: "Martin, if Ronaldo and Messi are the best where do you put pele and maradona in you ranking?"

Martin: "I can't place Pele or Maradona in a particular place, because in absolute terms they are way below most of the actual players. They were fantastic for their eras, but couldn't compete in this one for the reasons I stated before."

Fence. Firmly seated thereon.

15:00 BST

20/04/2012

Ooh er. The pre-Clasico tension is already rife, and we're not even close to kick-off yet... What do you make of Carlo and Martin's points thus far? Hit me with your Twitter stick!

14:54 BST

20/04/2012

So Carlo thinks the standard of football in the '80s was higher than it is today. Does Martin agree? Well, not really...

Martin: "Ok, I agree with Carlo that Maradona was quite good for Barca as well, although far from what Messi has done in both numerical and silverware terms. But you just have to look at the pitiful Spanish National side of 1982 and weigh in the fact the you could only use 3 foreigners per team to understand that La Liga just wasn't very good at the time, with Serie A being way better. And again, the standard of football in the 80s might be better in relative terms, with Zico, Platini, Maradona, et al, but way inferior in absolute terms. If you watch videos of the time, they have ages to think, pass and shoot, with defenders just looking at them as they broke havoc."

14:46 BST

20/04/2012

Moving on to La Liga at large now - is the Spanish league stronger than it was when Maradona plied his trade with the Blaugrana back in '84?

Carlo: "Barcelona and Real Madrid are certainly much stronger now than the Barcelona and Real Madrid of 1982-84, although there was more strength in depth back then as the two Basque sides Real Socedad and Atheltic Bilbao had excellent sides, whereas Barca and Madrid have had no competition in La Liga for the last few years.

"If this question is implying that Maradona failed at Barca then that is one of football's biggest myths. He scored 38 goals in 58 games, despite suffering some shocking injuries at the hands of the likes of Andoni Goikoetxea, and scored a host of amazing goals. However, one thing is absolutely certain, the standard of football overall was much higher in the 1980s than it is today – there was much more competition between club teams both domestically and in Europe. Today, you can count on one hand the teams who can challenge for the Champions League, and you can count on one finger the teams who can challenge for the league in Spain, England, Germany, and even Italy. The talent pool is small, which helps maks Messi and Ronaldo look even better."

14:42 BST

20/04/2012

I'd love to know your thoughts on the points so far, particularly on whether Messi and Ronaldo would have struggled without the advantages of the modern game. Any and all comments are welcome (well, as long as you're nice to me) so hit me with a broadside @GoalUK!

14:36 BST

20/04/2012

So Pele and Maradona would still have excelled in today's game. But what if Messi and Ronaldo jumped into a DeLorean and tried some old-school '80s football?

Carlo: "If you took Messi and Ronaldo back to 1970 or 1986, I believe that Messi would have still been world class. But I have no doubt that Ronaldo would have been nowhere near as good as he is today. Today's game is about pace, power and physicality, not skill and artistry."

Martin: "The thing is, you can't say if Pele or Maradona would be better with present day technology for the simple reason that there's no way to know. On the other side, you can easily argue that Messi and Ronaldo would be faster and sharper than the players from the past just by watching videos. Messi and Ronaldo -in a lesser extent- are not just better because they are physically better but also because they had to adapt to the present day conditions since they were very young. They react faster, have less space and less time to do their thing. And they not just do it but are completely dominating their era, breaking every record there is to break."

14:32 BST

20/04/2012

There's no doubt that the fitness of players has improved markedly over the last few decades, but Carlo reckons that, given the same modern-day health and training regimes, Pele and Maradona would have shone in 2012 too:

Carlo: "
The players in today's game are undoubtedly fitter than players from Pele and Maradona's era (dangerously fit, in my opinion). If you brought Pele and Maradona to today's era, of course it would take time for them to reach the fitness of Messi and Ronaldo, but they would reach the same fitness levels when provided the same training as the Liga duo. And when they do, they would easily be able to cope with today's style of football because athletically these players were just as strong as they were technically and mentally. Yes, Maradona missed the odd training session at Napoli and put on weight into his thirties, but this was because he was allowed to, and it never affected his game at his peak. That's how good he was. Imagine Maradona with today's fitness regimes?!"

I won't lie - that is a frightening thought...

14:23 BST

20/04/2012

We're over 24 hours from kick-off and already things are getting tasty... here's Martin's response to the claim that Ronaldo and Messi would have struggled 30 years ago: 

Martin:
"To answer that specific part of Carlo's argument, let me delve into the absolute and relative terms. In relative terms defenders now might be weaker than in the past. We don't have Baresi, Maldinis or Beckenbauers. However, in absolute terms, defenders now are WAY better than the ones in the past. They are faster, they are fitter, they are stronger. Let's look at the players Maradona had to overcome to score 'The Goal of the XX Centry". They ate fish and chips, drowned themselves in pints and didn't work out at all, and they still reached the quarterfinals of a World Cup! Not just that, they were one handball away from a legitimate shot to the final!"
Fair point.

14:23 BST

20/04/2012

Inevitably, we're starting with the seemingly age-old question of Messi v Ronaldo. But just how good are they compared to the great players of the last century?

Martin: "Messi and Ronaldo are the best players in the history of the sport. The reason is both logical and impossible to rebate. According to names such as Alex Ferguson or Arsene Wenger, 21st century football is more demanding, faster and more skill is required compared than ever before.


"Both Leo and Cristiano are dominating the game like no other player has done before them. So, using pure logic, they have to be better than the stars from the past in absolute terms. To say it clearly, if you sent Messi and Ronaldo to 1970 they would completely obliterate the opposition. If you were able to send Pele or Maradona to the present day, they would look slow and out of shape."

14:19 BST

20/04/2012

Ooh er. Quite a claim that. But Carlo has a completely different view, it seems:

Carlo: "Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will no doubt go down as the two best players in the post Zidane-Ronaldinho era (even if personally I put Xavi above Ronaldo) but I don't believe they can be called the two best players of all time, not yet anyway – and remember they still have a good five to eight years left at the top in their respective careers.

"There are a number of reasons why I hold this opinion, ranging from my belief that this is a weak era of football, that defences today are poor, that today's rules benefit attackers, and individual reasons like Ronaldo's less than perfect record in big games and Messi's disappointing international statistics. I also believe that Ronaldo would have been nowhere near as good as he is now without these modern advantages if we took him back to the 1990s, 80s, 70s etc."

14:09 BST

20/04/2012

Stay with me for the next hour or so for all the tastiest tid-bits from the Q&A 'cross the pond (well, 'cross the editions, really). Expert views come from Carlo Garganese (Deputy Editor of Goal.com International) and Martin Langer (Cheif Editor of Goal.com Spain). Stay tuned, y'all!

14:00 BST

20/04/2012

Just before I start bringing you the best of Goal.com international's Clasico Q&A, here's a quick update for all you Evertonians on Leighton Baines. Manager David Moyes has calmed any fears of a long term injury, saying: "I don't think he [Leighton Baines] will be out for the rest of the season. He'll miss a couple of weeks though." Something of a relief for all you Toffees, I should think.

13:56 BST

20/04/2012

A little more food-for-thought for all you Twitter-ing folk out there: what's your favourite El Clasico moment? Mine would have to be Ronaldinho's masterclass at the Bernabeu, when the whole of the Madrid faithful got to their feet to applaud the dreadlocked dreadnought. What's yours? Keep those tweets coming in, otherwise I'll get good and lonely. And when I get lonely, I tend to start rambling about Glentoran legend Fred Roberts...

13:49 BST

20/04/2012

There's still time to hop on the Clasico gravy-train (if by some miracle you didn't already know about it). You can take a gander at our sparkling preview here - it should fill the ten minutes before this afternoon's Clasico Q&A very nicely...

13:46 BST

20/04/2012

Personally, I think few can argue with Archie Stark's record of 70 in a season. That's a colossal effort with a pig's bladder. How do you think today's top two compare with the likes of Pele, Gerd Muller, or Glentoran legend Fred Roberts? That's right - THE Fred Roberts! Answers on a 140-character postcard please - @GoalUK.

13:39 BST

20/04/2012

Jumping back to the Clasico now - with pretty much all eyes in the world on Ronaldo and Messi ahead of tomorrow night as world's top two continue to score for fun this season, check out this fascinating little look at record-breaking goalscorers in recent history. How do CR7 and - LM10? - compare to the legends on this list? Keep those Twitter thoughts coming!

13:28 BST

20/04/2012

Back on our side of the water, I have some more news on Didier Drogba: it seems the Chelsea powerhouse has been ruled out of tomorrow afternoon's clash with Arsenal at the Emirates, after he picked up a knee injury midweek. Considering his performance against Barca, there's little wonder why Di Matteo would be keen to rest him before next week...

13:24 BST

20/04/2012

Real might have an horrendous recent record in the Clasico, but they go into tomorrow's clash with a four-point cushion at the summit of La Liga. Indeed, ex-Germany ace Bernd Schuster is convinced Barca have to grab all three points if they are to keep the title race alive. Is he right? Keep those questions, quips and comments coming on our Twitter site - @GoalUK.

13:19 BST

20/04/2012

We'll start things off with a little nod (well, more like a massive head jerk) to El Clasico. I'll have some sparkling Q&A action for you from 14:00 this afternoon, so watch this space for updates on that. In the meantime, why not whet the ol' appetite with our Clasico betting preview. You might be surprised to see which two players are under the spotlight...*

*You won't be surprised.