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Apr 10, 2010

Ronaldo plays down personal duel with Lionel Messi

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo has played down talk of a personal duel between himself and Barcelona's Lionel Messi ahead of Saturday's crucial 'El Clasico' at the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid-Barcelona preview
• Forum: Real v Barca: Who's the best?
Pinto signs extension
•  Peyret: Exploding the Clasico cliches

Messi has been getting all the headlines for his performances - especially his four-goal demolition of Arsenal in the Champions League - but Ronaldo is keen to outshine his rival.

''Anything is possible in football but I hope I take the ball [after scoring at hat-trick] first'', said Ronaldo. ''Everyone talks about me and Messi but it is not an individual duel. Messi does not play alone, his team-mates and coaches also have a big influence. In Manchester, when I was the best in the world, I was not playing alone. Barça are the same. Messi is great, but he is in a very complete team.''

When asked who was the biggest plater, Ronaldo smiled and said: ''The biggest is me, at least in height and wider too, that's for sure. I think Messi is having a phenomenal season, he is scoring and making a lot of goals. He is certainly among the best now and always will be.

''I'm doing a good job, this is my first year in Spain and I am very happy. I want to keep improving in the years that I will stay here and hopefully I will be one of the best, too.''

Barcelona thrashed Real 6-2 at the Bernabeu last season but, after a summer of heavy investment at Madrid, Ronaldo was reluctant to say Pep Guardiola's team are still the best in the world.

''Last year they were, yes, this year we will wait and see. The team that wins the most titles is the best. At the end of the season we'll know. We are not yet a great team, we are good and improving. Against Barcelona we must concentrate from the first minute. These games can be decided by small details for mistakes so I hope Real make the fewest.

''I try to beat every team which I face. I have nothing against Barca who are a team that I respect, but in no way do I have fear. It's a game we all want to play in and hopefully the better team will be Madrid.

''I will try to play well, to help the team, to score, to assist ...whatever, but most of all I want us to win to stay ahead of them. You always have to think you're favorite. The winner must have confidence and I am sure we will win.''

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