Pirlo denies Barcelona in crisis, refuses to place Ronaldo above Messi

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Andrea Pirlo dismissed the idea that Barcelona are a club in crisis, as he refused to classify Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo as a superior player to Lionel Messi before their Champions League showdown.

Juventus are facing a Barça team still reeling from last Saturday’s shocking 2-1 loss to newly promoted Cádiz in LaLiga, which left them 12 points behind leaders Atlético de Madrid after 10 games.

However, Ronald Koeman’s team has been flawless in the Champions League with five wins in five Group G games, including a 2-0 win in Turin in October.

Juve’s only victory at the Camp Nou in the Champions League was in April 2003 (2-1), having failed to win on either of their last two trips there in the competition.

The Bianconeri have not scored in their last four games against Barça and Pirlo said they are not on the brink of collapse, despite an internal problem.

“I don’t believe in the crisis in Barcelona,” Pirlo said at a press conference. “The club has a new coach who is putting his ideas together. We know you have a great team.

“They changed their coach but they always go out to the field to play. They have to find the best solutions and put the players in the best conditions to perform at their best.

“But you play every three days and it is also difficult for them. It is a great team and it will also recover in the League ”.

Messi and Ronaldo have previously met in five Champions League games, with Messi 3-0 ahead of the Portuguese superstar in terms of goals.

Tuesday’s game will be their first match in the competition since the May 2011 semi-final between Barcelona and Real Madrid and Ronaldo’s first as a Juve player.

On the eve of the match, Barcelona manager Koeman diplomatically refused to classify Messi as a superior player to Ronaldo, and his Juventus counterpart did the same.

“Koeman is right in saying that it is not fair to say who is better,” Pirlo explained. “They have put on a show and have been doing it for 15 years. They have shared the Ballon d’Or for the last 15 years.

“It’s a shame to say if one is better than the other. They are phenomena that make millions of fans rejoice every time they take to the field, it is not fair to say who is better.

“You have to thank both of them because they are good at soccer.

“Messi had some problems this summer when he wanted to stay in Barcelona. But in games he has always proved his worth, so more than on a technical level I think it is a mental problem.

“However, we don’t want to get into trouble, so let’s leave Barcelona and Messi talking about these things.”

Pirlo hinted that veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is in line to play Barça, having returned to training after a thigh problem.

He said: “Gigi is better. He has recovered from his injury. Tomorrow he could be in the game because he deserves such an important stage and he could play ”.




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