The Messi–Ronaldo rivalry is an association football rivalry between fans of Argentine forward Lionel Messi and Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo and supposedly between the athletes themselves. Having won a combined ten Ballon d'Or/FIFA Ballon d'Or awards (5 each), both are widely regarded as the two best players of their generation and among the best of all time in the magazine. Both players have regularly broken the 50 goal barrier in a single season, and have scored over 600 goals each in their careers for club and country. They are also the only two players to score seven UEFA Champions League hat-tricks. Sports journalists and pundits regularly argue the individual merits of both players in an attempt to establish who they believe is the best player in modern football. It has been compared to past global sports rivalries such as the Muhammad Ali–Joe Frazier rivalry in boxing, the Björn Borg–John McEnroe rivalry in tennis and the Ayrton Senna–Alain Prost rivalry in Formula One motor racing. In a 2015 interview, Ronaldo commented on the rivalry by saying: "I think we push each other sometimes in the competition, this is why the competition is so high", while Ronaldo's manager during his time at Manchester United, Alex Ferguson opined that "I don't think the rivalry against each other bothers them. I think they have their own personal pride in terms of wanting to be the best". Messi has denied any rivalry, saying that it was "only the media, the press, who wants us to be at loggerheads but I've never fought with Cristiano". In response to claims that he and Messi do not get on well on a personal level, Ronaldo commented: "We don't have a relationship outside the world of football, just as we don't with a lot of other players", before adding that in years to come he hopes they can laugh about it together, stating: "We have to look on this rivalry with a positive spirit, because it's a good thing".
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