Former Real Madrid left-back Marcelo has named Lionel Messi the ‘toughest’ opponent he ever faced during his 18-year career in Europe.
The Brazilian defender spent 15 storied years at the Santiago Bernabeu, eventually becoming the club’s most decorated player of all time, with 25 trophies in Madrid’s colours before his departure in 2022.
He was part of the Madrid squad that won the Champions League title for three years in a row and five Champions League trophies in six years. Marcelo was also part of the Madrid team that recorded the most points in a single La Liga season under Jose Mourinho.
So his time in Spain saw him come face-to-face with the best players in Spain and the world. However, of the several big names he faced, none troubled the left-back like Lionel Messi. The former Madrid man came face-to-face with the 35-year-old severally for club and country and has now admitted the Argentina international was his toughest opponent.
Marcelo also stressed that the player is still one of the most talented in the game today, even at 35.
Speaking to the Athletic, Marcelo described his time playing with Messi during their many historic El Clasicos.
“Messi is incredible, the toughest opponent I’ve ever faced,” he said.
“We all know the quality he has even now, aged 35, and before, it was the same.
“El Clasico has always been one of the best games to watch and play. I was lucky enough to have featured in one of the best eras of Clasicos.”
However, Marcelo, who was close friends with Cristiano Ronaldo during their time at Real, quickly noted that it ‘wasn’t just Messi’ who defined the Clasicos of the late 2000s and 2010s. Other players who featured were ‘also incredible’.
During his 15 years at the Santiago Bernabeu, Marcelo played in 28 El Clasicos. He was on the winning side on twelve occasions, while Barcelona won 16 times.
After leaving the club during last summer’s transfer window, Marcelo joined the Greek side Olympiacos. However, the 34-year-old could not settle at the Super League Greece club and terminated his contract in February 2023, instead choosing to return to his boyhood club Fluminense in Brazil.