Former Spain and Real Madrid coach Vicente Del Bosque has weighed in on the eternal debate over who stands as this generation's greatest player between Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, siding with the Barcelona star for his unparalleled quality.
Before Luka Modric was named as the 2018 Ballon d'Or winner, Messi and Ronaldo shared the award equally over the previous decade with five wins apiece.
Both men have achieved greatness on an individual and team level at Barcelona and Real Madrid, setting incredible new goalscoring records and wowing audiences across the world as true masters of their craft.
Ronaldo is now plying his trade in Italy with Juventus and he has enjoyed a typically brilliant debut season, scoring 19 goals in his first 25 Serie A appearances.
Meanwhile, in Spain, Messi is once again spearheading Barcelona's assault on three trophy fronts, with 33 goals to his name in just 31 matches this term.
Del Bosque, who has two spells in charge at Real Madrid and a World Cup win with Spain on his managerial CV, picked Messi over Ronaldo when asked who holds the edge in their famous rivalry.
"He [Messi] almost always plays well," he told Mundo Deportivo. "There are players who never do it wrong. He has an impressive regularity. He is a great player.
"I'm staying with Messi. I see a more natural soccer player, from his time in the neighbourhood, playing with friends on the street. Even so, Cristiano has extraordinary courage, with physical and technical conditions as a great scorer, but I'm staying with Messi."
Real Madrid have suffered in the absence of Ronaldo this season, dropping nine points behind Barcelona in the Liga title race and losing a large portion of their attacking threat.
The Blancos still have the opportunity to win an unprecedented fourth successive Champions League, though, and the Copa Del Rey is also within their sights as they host Barcelona in a second-leg quarter-final on Wednesday evening.
Del Bosque went on to acknowledge that Madrid miss Ronaldo's clinical edge in the final third, before insisting that the likes of Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale are still capable of making a difference in his stead.
"He [Ronaldo] is a player who guarantees many goals and now it is harder for Madrid to score them," Del Bosque continued.
"Even so, there are other very good players, like Bale, who is a special boy with great conditioning, or Benzema, which has been badly spoken about but has fantastic qualities."
Madrid and Barca are locked level after the first leg of their Spanish Cup tie in the Camp Nou finished 1-1, with Ernesto Valverde's side set to return to the Santiago Bernabeu again in La Liga this weekend.