Ahead of Wednesday’s El Classico of La Liga 2019-20 at the Camp Nou, Barcelona captain Lionel Messi said that it will be hard to replace Cristiano Ronaldo by Real Madrid’s marquee signing this year, Eden Hazard.
On being asked if the Belgian will be able to create the same impact that Ronaldo used to have in this kind of big matches, Messi did not take the credit away from Hazard and said both are a different set of players.
“Hazard has a lot of quality. He is a different football player who can unbalance [defences], but I think he is different from Cristiano, with different characteristics. It is very difficult to replace Cristiano, but Hazard is also a great player,” Messi was quoted as saying by Goal.com via Spanish media outlet Marca.
The Barcelona veteran also spoke about different game styles that Real Madrid adapt to while playing against them at Camp Nou and Santiago Bernabeu.
According to Messi, the Los Blancos play more attacking football, while in Barcelona they tend to defend with extra might. “When we play at the Bernabeu, many more spaces are generated. They attack us more because they have the obligation as the host team and people push them for that,” he said.
“At the Camp Nou, they play another type of match, sitting a little further back, they are closer together and hit on the counter-attack because they have very fast players up front. At the Bernabeu, we play 90 minutes equally. Here the game becomes more locked and is more complicated,” the 32-year-old added.
The Argentine international also spoke about Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde’s rotational policy where senior players like him, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic and Gerard Pique are being asked to compromise on their full 90 minutes’ play.
“Actually I think we are all very important. There are times when it’s another teammate’s turn to play and I think you have to take it in the best possible way, being aware that the most important thing is that everyone in the dressing room feels important because we need everyone motivated to achieve the targets,” the six-time Ballon d’Or said.
Barcelona are all set to host Real Madrid in the first Clasico of the ongoing La Liga season on Wednesday night.