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Fantasy Champions League: Quarter-Final Preview “This is going to get Messi”

UEFA Champions League Semi-Finals 2014/15

Arsenal and Liverpool: Confirmed Lineups

Confirmed Lineups: Real Madrid v Atlético Madrid in the Champions League Final

Champions League: Will Chelsea drive the Bus up front?

Chelsea back in Champions League action tonight

Moyes Out to continue Manchester United’s Progress: UEFA Champions League FiT Preview

Champions League: Attacking options are Real Messi now !

Off The Mark: Time for Tottenham talking to stop as post-Bale era begins

The Mark Jones Column: Suarez v Bale – It’s not Messi v Ronaldo, but why care?

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We live in an age of comparison, from television meerkats with funny accents to the best footballers on the planet.

Everything can be contrasted, scrutinized and pored over in great detail, and there are always those ever-helpful statistics available to back up whatever point you want to make, and to shout down those that you don’t agree with.

The kings of the comparison – in a football sense anyway – are of course Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but to many calling both ‘kings’ simply shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

Apparently it’s not enough to simply enjoy the fact that we are currently lucky enough to be able to watch two of the greatest players there have ever been, instead we have to constantly compare and contrast the pair, pointing out weaknesses in one that are strengths in the other.

The worldwide availability of Barcelona and Real Madrid’s fixtures each and every week only adds to this craze, but whilst people are guilty of constantly comparing Messi to Ronaldo, this has created a skewed argument in which the pair are compared to everyone else. In that situation, there are only going to be two winners.

As a result of this, is has become impossible to discuss some of the finer talents in world football today without making an indirect link to everyone’s favourite Argentinean and Portuguese.

Take the forthcoming Premier League action at Anfield on Sunday, when we’ll be privileged to see surely the Premier League’s two most exciting players go head-to-head.

Robin van Persie has of course achieved great things in his maiden season at Manchester United – just as everyone knew he would – but the Dutchman comes alive when the ball is in the penalty area, he doesn’t generate that same buzz when that ball is at his feet further from goal as Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale do.

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Anyone with an even vague knowledge of this season’s Premier League must be aware of just what an impact these two players have had on their respective sides this season. Suarez’s at times one-man attempts to transform Liverpool from a mid-table team in transition into one capable of challenging for Europe have been a compelling watch, whilst Bale – with a more experienced team around him – has been spearheading Tottenham’s hugely impressive tilt at Champions League football.

You don’t have to look too hard to see comparisons with Messi and Ronaldo in both players. Suarez’s often mesmerising close control – seemingly keeping the ball as close to his feet as possible – can draw a likeness with his fellow South American, whilst Bale’s athleticism, pace and power can be favourably linked with the former Manchester United man.

Yet instead of focusing on these traits which make the Premier League duo so good, it is often the negatives which get talked about with both.

Perhaps it comes from a desire to leave Messi and Ronaldo on top of the perches that they rightfully deserve to sit on, but Suarez and Bale don’t draw the same kind of admiration.

Suarez of course has a previous incident on his rap sheet – one that has been discussed and debated far too often to warrant going over it again – but both he and Bale are also frequently accused of bending the rules in order to seek an advantage. Of diving, in other words.

Ronaldo received similar attention during his time in England, and whilst it is true that both the Liverpool and Spurs man have exaggerated contact on some occasions, you’d be hard pressed to find a modern player who hasn’t. Look, here’s Gary Neville.

It pays to focus on the negatives with some players and not others though, and whilst that doesn’t look like happening with Messi and Ronaldo any time soon, for some reason it does with those who constantly seem to live in their huge shadow.

Can we not just enjoy watching them though? Enjoy the terrific pace, power, finishing ability, skills, trickery, team ethic, leadership and outright quality both possess?

Surely it’s about time we can, and Anfield on Sunday will be a good place to start.

@Mark_Jones86

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