Real Madrid legend Marcelo says Messi is the toughest opponent he has EVER faced

Real Madrid icon Marcelo has named Lionel Messi as the ‘toughest’ opponent he faced during his storied 18-year career.

The Brazilian defender spent 15 years at the Bernabeu, where he became the club’s most decorated player of all time, winning 25 trophies with Los Blancos before his departure in 2022.

But no player the left-back lined up against was as hard to pin down as the Barcelona legend, with Marcelo keen to stress that the player is still one of the most talented in the game today.

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 noted of the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner.

‘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.’

But Marcelo, who was close friends with team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo during their time at Real, was quick to note that it ‘wasn’t just Messi’ who defined the Clasicos of the late 2000s and 2010s, but other players who featured were ‘also incredible’.

The Brazilian international joined Real Madrid in 2005, and during his time in the Spanish capital, Los Blancos won 12 Clasicos to Barcelona’s 16.

After leaving the club during last summer’s transfer window, Marcelo joined Greek side Olympiacos.

But the 34-year-old was unable to 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.

Of the move, Marcelo spoke of the ‘incredible emotion’ in his home coming.

‘The idea of wearing that shirt again already excites me a lot and I’m looking forward to playing in the Copa Libertadores, which I’ve never done.

‘I really want to get there and help Fluminense reach a final and win the Libertadores.’

On March 10, Marcelo was welcomed back to the club where he started his career with an overwhelming presentation at the Maracana in front of 30,000 after signing a two-year contract with the Rio de Janeiro-based club.

On the pitch, he called ‘coming home’, ‘the best moment’ of his life.

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