MANCHESTER: Ricardo Carvalho has hailed Cristiano Ronaldo as “almost perfect” as his Portugal team-mate goes up against his Ballon D’Or rival Lionel Messi of Argentina in a friendly at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
Real Madrid forward Ronaldo, who knows Old Trafford well from his time with Manchester United, is the current holder of the the world’s best player award.
Tuesday’s match is set to see him face Barcelona’s Messi, last year’s runner-up, in international rather than La Liga action.
Inevitably, the pair have been the focus of attention in the build-up to the game and Monaco defender Carvalho told a news conference on Monday: “It is normal about the game to speak about Cristiano and Messi but I think it is Portugal against Argentina.
“For us Portuguese, everyone is expecting that Cristiano can win his third Golden Ball (Ballon D’Or).
“I am a little bit suspect (biased) but I think he is the best.
“We are so proud of him. He is doing a great job during this past six or seven years. He is improving all the small details, making so many goals.”
“He wants always more, even in training,” Carvalho added.”He is looking always to try his best.
“It is difficult because when you see him, he is almost perfect, strong, good in the air, fit always. It is difficult to say what he is missing,” Carvalho added.
“He is strong, good in the air, good with his feet and he wants to win more and more. There is no reason for him not to win the third time.”
Turning to the match, Carvalho said Portugal knew just how tough it would be to play an Argentina side that made it all the way to this year’s World Cup final in Brazil before losing to Germany.
“We all know how good Argentina were. They were finalists in the World Cup. They have players who can decide the match in the spur of the moment. We just have to keep our eyes open and do our best.
“We don’t know exactly who is going to play but the most important thing is for us to defend as a team and as a block and whoever is the nearest player, you need to mark them.”
Portugal coach Fernando Santos tried to ignore the Ronaldo-Messi debate and instead concentrated on the match as a whole.
“To you, it is a classic because to us, it is just another excellent game between Portugal and Argentina, two excellent nations,” he said.
“They will perform as best as they can on the pitch.
“What concerns me, since I arrived we played two games, we won both, Denmark and last week against Armenia (with Ronaldo scoring on each occasion in a pair of Euro 2016 1-0 qualifying wins) so the coefficient is quite good. We have to take the game tomorrow to create consistency and the base for future games.”
Meanwhile Santos said he would be sympathetic to those Portugal players such as Ronaldo with particularly heavy schedules because of their clubs’ Champions League commitments.
“The players will play whoever I choose but of course we take into consideration those who play in the Champions League because they play more matches and have a heavier calendar,” said Santos.