‘Lionel Messi is incredible’ – Real Madrid legend Marcelo names Barcelona icon as his toughest opponent

Lionel Messi Marcelo Barcelona Real MadridGetty
  • Brazilian spent 15 years at the Bernabeu
  • Faced Argentine superstar on a regular basis
  • Graced the same Blancos team as Ronaldo

WHAT HAPPENED? The veteran Brazilian left-back brought a 15-year stint at Santiago Bernabeu to a close in 2022 when bidding farewell to Madrid as a free agent. Much of his time in the Spanish capital was spent in direct competition with Barca icon Messi, with their paths crossing on a regular basis in the fiercest of derby encounters. Marcelo concedes that facing the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner presented him with his biggest challenge, with the mercurial Argentine proving to be almost impossible to contain at times.

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WHAT THEY SAID: Marcelo has told The Athletic: “Messi is incredible, the toughest opponent I’ve ever faced. We all know the quality he has even now, aged 35, and before it was the same. El Clasico has always been one of the best games to watch and play. I was lucky enough to have featured in one of the best eras of Clasicos. But it wasn’t just Messi, there were other players who were also incredible.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: While Marcelo was a rival of Messi, he was a team-mate of Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo for nine memorable years. The pair struck up a close bond during their time together in Madrid, with their antics on the training pitch often gracing social media. Marcelo said of working with another all-time great: “There were a lot of videos of Cris and I doing jokes in training, the celebration (“Siuuuh!”) and so on, but Sergio (Ramos), Casemiro, Luka (Modric), Karim (Benzema)… I have a lot of friends in football. Of course, what came out was always about Cristiano and the celebration and it’s super normal, but I have other friends as well with whom I do things outside of football.”


Lionel Messi Marcelo Barcelona Real MadridGetty

Cristiano Ronaldo Marcelo Real MadridGetty

WHAT NEXT? Marcelo linked up with Olympiacos when severing ties with Real, but a forgettable spell in Greece lasted a matter of months and the 34-year-old defender is now back where it all began for him at Fluminense.