Ronald Koeman will not be dragged into the Lionel Messi versus Cristiano Ronaldo debate, but the Barcelona boss is looking forward to seeing two “incredible” talents lock horns again in the Champions League.
The Blaugrana are readying themselves for a heavyweight continental clash with Juventus on Tuesday.
Ronaldo will be returning to Camp Nou for that contest, with the former Real Madrid star having sat out a meeting with Barca in Turin after contracting Covid-19.
Koeman is expecting fireworks in Catalunya, as two all-time greats prepare to rekindle their long-running rivalry, but the Dutchman says there is little to choose between the pair when it comes to greatness.
“It’s fantastic that these two players have been so long at this top level in the world,” said the Barcelona boss at a pre-match press conference.
“They are the best players, in my opinion, in the last 10-15 years. Being successful all this time is incredible. It’s a great compliment to those players.
“They are different, but they have incredible stats about scoring goals, hat-tricks, about winning prizes.
“It’s not nice to say who is better because both are incredible, I admire both players because they gave us so many nice evenings with great goals, with great titles. Let’s hope we can enjoy them tomorrow night.”
Barca will need to have a plan for containing Ronaldo, with the 35-year-old Portuguese netting 13 goals through 15 appearances for club and country this season, but Koeman says he will not be paying special attention to one player in a star-studded Juve side.
He added: “For us it is not an extra motivation because of an individual player.
“We always thought of this as an important match with two big teams meeting. The two teams are going to fight for first position in the group.
“It’s always important the best players are there. I think Cristiano Ronaldo is still one of the best, he always scores and always fights.
“Because of his daily work he is still in the elite in our sport. It’s a great compliment to him. Not just any player can do that.
“We have to defend well against him and when we have the ball that danger goes away.”
Barca head into their meeting with Juve sat top of Group G, with both sides already through to the last 16, but their domestic form has been worrying of late – with a 2-1 defeat suffered at the hands of Cadiz last time out – and they will be looking for a spark in European competition.