It will be tough for Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Real Madrid’s
Cristiano Ronaldo to take their unprecedented scoring duel to even
greater heights after last season’s record-breaking
But that doesn’t mean they won’t try.
In the Spanish league alone, Messi scored a record 50 times last
season, while Ronaldo almost kept pace with 46 goals, six more than
the previous league record that the Portuguese forward established
the year before.
”I begin each season with the objective of surpassing what I
have done before,” said Messi. ”I don’t try to score more goals,
I try to improve as a player. I hope I still have margin to
continue growing and become a better footballer.”
Messi shattered a string of records in 2011-12.
The 25-year-old Argentina forward scored 73 goals overall in 60
games for Barcelona, breaking the mark of 67 set by Bayern Munich’s
Gerd Mueller in 1973 and the prior world club mark of 70
established by Archie Stark of Bethlehem Steel in the American
Soccer League in 1925. He became Barcelona’s all-time leading
scorer by breaking a 57-year-old club milestone, and equaled a
Champions League record with 14 goals.
Ronaldo came close to matching Messi with 60 goals in 55 games
in all competitions as he powered Madrid to the Spanish league
title and its record point haul (100) and goals scored (121).
”My immediate goals are to work as hard as I can so I can fight
with my team for all the titles possible,” said Ronaldo. ”I want
to keep getting better because it is going to be a long
On Tuesday, the two rivals and Messi’s teammate Andres Iniesta
were named as finalists for the UEFA Best Player in Europe
Messi has won the award the past three years. Ronaldo won it in
For Ronaldo’s coach Jose Mourinho, his fellow countryman should
win this time.
”My idea is clear, football is a collective sport,” Mourinho
said. ”Real Madrid won a very important title and won it in
spectacular fashion. Those that make the difference on a great
champion team are the (best) candidates.”
Messi refused to say if he felt he deserved the award more than
Ronaldo. Instead, he said he would like to see it go to a Barcelona
”I would like to see the award remain for one more year at
Barcelona,” he said.
The two scoring aces will soon meet in the Spanish Supercup, to
be played between Madrid and Barcelona over two legs on Aug. 23 and
29, one day before the winner of the award is announced.
And if the battle for individual honors wasn’t enough added
motivation, both players ended last season with team and individual
disappointments despite their superb scoring campaigns.
While Barcelona won the Copa del Rey, Club World Cup and both
the Spanish and European Super Cups, it was dethroned by Madrid in
the Spanish league and lost to Chelsea in the Champions League
semifinals. Messi missed a penalty in the second leg at home
against the eventual champion that would have sent the Catalan club
Ronaldo, for his part, had a penalty saved in a loss to Bayern
Munich in the other Champions League semifinal.
Messi said his goal is for Barcelona to return to the top of
both Spain and Europe.
”I hope so. We’re upset with how we ended last season with the
loss to Chelsea and the loss to Real Madrid in Camp Nou,” he said.
”Last season is history. We begin from zero.”
Without any international commitments this summer for Argentina,
Messi has enjoyed both a longer than usual vacation and has been
able to get in a full preseason under Barcelona’s new head coach
”Leo has come back strong,” Barcelona’s Javier Mascherano said
about his fellow Argentina teammate. ”This season you will see him
start in even better shape.”
The Spanish league begins for both teams on Aug. 19 with Real
Madrid hosting Valencia and Barcelona hosting Real Sociedad.
Joseph Wilson can be reached at: www.twitter.com/JWilsonBCN
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