Lionel Messi is dreaming of World Cup glory with Argentina next summer but said he was “very happy” to see Cristiano Ronaldo fire Portugal to Brazil.
Barcelona forward Messi, who collected the 2013 European Golden Boot on Wednesday, said he would trade any individual accolades for success with Argentina next summer as they seek to claim the world title for the first time since 1986.
“Certainly, to win the World Cup is a dream for me, my teammates and all of Argentina,” he told selected media at a private press conference on Wednesday. “We are doing well -- we need to improve a couple of things, but there are still seven months until the tournament starts. Hopefully we can win there, but a lot of nations can do it.”
He said he rates Brazil, Germany and Spain as particular favourites, with kicker quoting him as saying: “Germany have a great team loaded with many young players at a high level. I especially like Mesut Ozil -- although, of course, that does not mean I want him on my team.”
Beyond the favourites, Messi believes a “surprise team” could claim glory, and Portugal could be contenders after winning their qualification playoff against Sweden.
Ronaldo scored all four of Portugal’s goals in the 4-2 aggregate victory and Messi said he was pleased for the Real Madrid star.
“I was very happy for him when he scored those goals,” Messi said. “It’s just great when the best teams compete in Brazil, and Cristiano has had a great scoring rate for many years now. He plays at an outstanding level.
“I don’t know if this is Cristiano’s best moment, but he is always there, scoring goals in all the games and playing his part for his club and his country. He has been like that for many years. Whether he is at his best, or a bit below that, there is almost no difference.”
Ronaldo -- who is now viewed as the favourite to claim this year’s Ballon d’Or after FIFA delayed the voting -- also drew praise from Barcelona defender Gerard Pique.
The Spain defender played alongside Ronaldo for Manchester United and said the pair retain a “good friendship” from their time at Old Trafford despite the fierce rivalry between Barca and Madrid.
“He is a 10 [out of 10] as a teammate,” Pique told TV3 programme “Efectivament” in quotes reported by Mundo Deportivo. “Cristiano is a proud person. He has a competitive edge that has led him to do things that maybe he should not have done, but who has not done that?”