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Italian believes that the Argentina international is a better player than his Portuguese rival because he steps up in the key matches

Former Italy international striker Gianluca Vialli believes that Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo under-performs in big games unlike his Barcelona rival Lionel Messi.

Vialli was commentating on Sky Sport Italia during the half-time interval of two teams’ second-leg Champions League semi-final tie at Camp Nou. With the game goalless at the time and Madrid trailing 2-0 from the first-leg played at the Bernabeu last week, Ronaldo needed to step up his game.

Former Juventus and Chelsea striker Vialli, who won the Champions League in 1996 with the Italian giants, gave his opinion on Ronaldo and Messi’s performance and explained: "Ronaldo is a great player, but when the team really needs him in the big knockout games he doesn’t do it. He goes asleep. This is the difference between Ronaldo and Messi.”

Alluding to last week’s encounter between the two Spanish giants and to Ronaldo’s disappointing performance for the Portugal national team, the 46-year-old said: “Both these semi-finals, the last World Cup and last Euros, the final in Rome in 2009 [between Manchester United and Barcelona], Ronaldo hasn’t performed.

"He hasn’t come on in this area. In Spain-Portugal [World Cup 2010] his country really needed him.”

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