A Champions League legend in his own right, Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs is in no doubt who he considers the best player to have graced the competition.
When asked the question in bwin’s latest Players Forecast, the 39-year-old names Barcelona’s Lionel Messi as his all-time Champions League great – and it’s not difficult to see why.
Not only is Messi breaking records left, right and centre – including setting a new standard for the number of goals scored in a calendar year – but Giggs knows first-hand what a nightmare the Argentine is to play against.
“Obviously you have to think of Messi – at the moment he is breaking all sorts of records. He is one of the greatest players to ever live and he has won it a couple of times,” Giggs said.
“He is a goalscorer but he is a team player as well – he set up so many goals for his teammates and having experienced playing against him, he is tough, it is difficult to get the ball off him. He can dribble, he can score any type of goal: left foot, right foot, headers. He has so many assets; it’s very, very tough to pin him down.”
While Messi’s Barcelona side remain possible future opponents for Giggs and Manchester United in this season’s Champions League, the next hurdle for the Reds comes in the form of Real Madrid.
The Spanish giants were paired with the Premier League leaders in the Champions League draw for the round of 16 on Thursday, December 20th and while Madrid are favourites to progress, Giggs is hoping that the top-level experience accrued by the United players over the years will help his side through.
“European football is so much more different [to playing in the Premier League],” he confirmed.
“It takes a few years to get used to. We found that with United in the early ’90s we struggled a little bit until ’99 when we won it. I think it is key you have the experience in the competition because it is so tough – even in the group stages.”
Manchester United are 14/1 shots to win the Champions League this season and are available at 13/10 to reach the quarter-finals at Real Madrid’s expense.