Barcelona defender Jordi Alba heaped praise on Lionel Messi ahead of his side’s Champions League opener against Roma by suggesting nobody else in the world game comes close to him – including Cristiano Ronaldo.
Real Madrid star Ronaldo scored five goals in a stunning performance as Real Madrid beat Espanyol 6-0 on Saturday, but Alba is certain he is playing with the best player around.
“If we are realistic and forget team loyalties, you cannot compare Messi with any other player,” Alba said at Tuesday’s pre-match press conference. “The best in the world is Leo Messi.
“Ronaldo is a fantastic player, he scores a lot of goals and is really complete, but what Messi does nobody else can or ever will do.
“When Leo is on the field, everything turns in favour of Barca. He is five steps above the rest.”
The 26-year-old was reluctant to draw any conclusions from Barca’s 3-0 pre-season win over Roma or the Serie A side’s humbling 7-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in last season’s competition ahead of the Stadio Olimpico clash.
“That was a presentation friendly and has nothing to do with this match,” added Alba. “Roma will have different motivation, are playing in front of their fans and we must try to impose our style of football on the game.
“I doubt the Bayern Munich match will affect them, as it is in the past now. Barcelona also suffered painful defeats only to get back on our feet – that is football. The past is in the past.
“We really want to keep winning. So that means playing well against Roma.”
Alba acknowledges the scale of the task Barcelona face if they wish to become the first club to successfully retain the Champions League and warned his team-mates not to become obsessed with that ambition.
“So far no club has been able to win the Champions League two years in a row,” he said. “That is extra motivation for us.
“The club always wants to win everything, but that must not become an obsession. We know it is difficult to win the treble again this year.”