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30 stats for Messi's 30th birthday


Miranda: Falcao in world's top two

Atletico Madrid centre back Joao Miranda has claimed that team-mate Radamel Falcao is among the world's two best players, following the striker's phenomenal start to the season.

Falcao, 26, continued his fine vein of form by scoring the clinching goal in Sunday's 3-1 win over Osasuna at the Estadio Vicente Calderon, taking his tally to 17 goals in 12 games for club and country this season.

And Miranda, 28, who was also on the scoresheet, believes the Colombian international, along with Lionel Messi, is one of the leading contenders for this year's Ballon d'Or, of which the striker is one of 23 contenders.

"For me, Messi and Falcao are the two best," he said. "Falcao is scoring in every game. So he must be in the battle for the Ballon d'Or."

The victory was Atletico's eighth successive win in La Liga and keeps Diego Simeone's side joint-top with Barcelona.

But the former Coritiba, Sochaux and Sao Paulo player, who has six caps for Brazil, says it is too early to be predicting where Los Colchoneros will finish this season.

"When there is not much left in the season it will be time to see where we are in the standings," he said. "We can see then if we are in the running for trophies or qualifying for the Champions League. At the moment we are just thinking about each game."

Simeone, whose side have also won their three Europa League group games this term, again shuffled his pack for Sunday's game, bringing in ex-Osasuna midfielder Raul Garcia, who responded by scoring Atletico's second goal.

And it is this strength in depth that Miranda believes should set his side in good stead for the rest of the season.

"We have a very good squad, with great players who would be undisputed starters in other teams," he said.


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