Raul: Messi's my best-ever opponent

The Real Madrid legend does not think he has ever faced a footballer as talented as the Barcelona No.10 throughout his long career

Real Madrid legend Raul believes Barcelona star Lionel Messi is the best player he has ever played against due to his ability to make “the impossible look easy”.

Messi has wowed football fans by upping his game after a lull in his 2014 performances, and his form has undoubtedly helped Luis Enrique's men to sit atop La Liga with a famous treble within sight.

Raul played at the Santiago Bernabeu for 16 years before leaving in 2010 and reserved praise for Messi, AC Milan defensive hero Paolo Maldini and Bayern Munich goalkeeping great Oliver Kahn.

“Messi is the best player I ever played against,” the former Spain striker, 37, told reporters. “I was lucky enough to play with Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo... But Messi is different.

“Messi makes everything look so easy, so effortless – even the impossible. When you watch him play, it’s almost as though you are watching him in the street playing with his mates.

“In my early days, the best players I ever faced would have been Roberto Baggio and Ryan Giggs.

“The best defender I came up against was Paolo Maldini, he was a strong and elegant player. I remember how difficult it was to play against him.

“He’s one of the best centre-backs in football history. His attitude out on the pitch was amazing. He’s a football idol.

“And the best keeper is Oliver Kahn. Those Champions League duels with Bayern were so tough.”

Raul, who now plies his trade at New York Cosmos, gave his thoughts on how Real Madrid are looking this season as they enter the final few weeks of the season two points behind Barca in La Liga and set to face Scudetto holders Juventus in the Champions League semi-finals.

“Madrid are well-placed,” he added. “They have a difficult game against Juventus in the Champions League – Juve are a very good side with some very talented players. But I am hoping to see Madrid in the final in Berlin.

“As for La Liga, that’s a bit more complicated. Barca thrashed Getafe the other night but there are still four games to go and anything is possible. I just hope Madrid maintain the momentum right up until the last day.”


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