Jose Mourinho says Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are both “lucky and unlucky” to be playing in the same generation, as the debate over the greatest of the pair hit new heights this week after their Champions League heroics.
Ronaldo laid down yet another marker with his hat-trick in overturning a 2-0 first-leg deficit for Juventus against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, and just 24 hours later Messi scored two and laid on two assists as Barcelona eased past Lyon 5-1.
READ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo nets hat-trick as Juventus stage stunning UCL comeback win over Atletico Madrid
Speaking on his RT show ‘On the Touchline with Jose Mourinho’, the Portuguse manager picked his compatriot as the player of the week – but also had praise for Argentine ace Messi.
“I think he [Ronaldo] is the name of the week,” Mourinho said.
“Of course it was a fantastic team performance [from Juventus] that turned that result of the first leg around, but without him, without that personality, without that know-how, that special, natural ambition and pride, I don’t think it would be possible.
“…As I was saying, when you have in the box or around the box that special killer like Ronaldo is, anything could happen,” added Mourinho, who worked with the prolific number 7 during his time at Real Madrid.
Ronaldo’s heroics on Tuesday appeared to spur Messi on, and Argentine duly responded the following day with a spellbinding display of his own against Lyon.
Despite their advancing years, the pair seem to be reaching ever-higher levels of perfection. Ronaldo’s hat-trick on Tuesday extended his record as the Champions League’s all-time top scorer with 124 goals in 160 games, while Messi’s double meant he has 108 goals from 131 games.
The pair also won an incredible five Ballon d’Or awards each over a decade, before Luka Modric broke their stranglehold on the accolade.
Mourinho said Messi and Ronaldo are equally blessed and cursed to be playing out their careers at the same time.
“Yesterday if Cristiano doesn’t come with that performance, again [Messi] would be there [as the player of the week], this is what he does week in, week out.
“I think they are lucky and they are unlucky to be in the same generation.
“They are lucky because they can compete against each other, they are lucky because they look to each other, in a positive way, they get extra motivation with the things they do, the number of hat-tricks, the number of champions, the number of gold boots…
“I think they have to be happy and lucky to be in the same generation.”
But Mourinho added that there was a downside with the pair having to share the accolades, whereas under different circumstances one or the other would clearly stand out as the greatest.
“They are unlucky because if they is only one of them, they would have like 10 golden balls, golden boots.”
Ronaldo is 34 and Messi 31, and while neither of them is showing signs of letting up in their relentless quest for greatness, Mourinho said their example was important for the following pack of players looking to inherit the mantle as the best in the world.
Now I think they put the bar really, really high
“Then, I call them the little monsters, they are coming behind. And the bar is really high. It’s really incredible motivation for guys like Neymar, (Kylian) Mbappe, (Antoine) Griezmann.
“I think Griezmann looked to Cristiano [on Tuesday] and thought, ‘OK, I am world champion, I am Europa League winner, I am doing fantastically well, but look at this.’ So I think also a great motivation for these guys, because unfortunately Messi and Ronaldo they don’t last forever.”