KEY POINTS

  • Rafael Nadal is a Real Madrid fan
  • Lionel Messi has a brilliant record against the La Liga giants
  • Argentina's next game is on Saturday

Rafael Nadal has heaped praise on Lionel Messi, saying "as a Real Madrid fan, I suffered from Messi."

Messi had a glorious career with FC Barcelona, where he spent 17 seasons before parting ways in the summer of 2021. The Argentinian forward helped the Catalans win 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies as he scored 672 goals and 303 assists in 778 competitive matches for the Camp Nou side.

During Messi's stay at Barcelona, he had made it a habit of scoring against arch-rivals Real Madrid, which is the 22-time Grand Slam champion's favorite soccer club. In 45 matches against Los Blancos, Messi netted 20 goals and provided 11 assists. It also included two hat-trick moments.

In a new interview, Nadal spoke about how Messi spoilt his match days as a Real Madrid fan in the past.

"As a Real Madrid fan, I have suffered from Messi. Although as a sports lover, many times I enjoy watching him play. He is a top player in history and he played almost his entire career in my country," Nadal told reporters.

Nadal, who is in Buenos Aires as part of his Latin American exhibition tour with World No. 3 Casper Ruud, picked Messi-led Argentina as one of the favorites to win the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Argentina came into the tournament on an incredible unbeaten streak of 36 games, which went back to 2019. However, Messi and his team were stunned by Saudi Arabia in their campaign opener. The Middle Eastern country won the Group C game 2-1.

"I still think that Argentina is a candidate to win the World Cup. There are teams with a tad of an advantage over the others: Argentina, Spain, France, Portugal, and Germany. But any team will have options. It cannot be predicted. As a Spaniard I trust us," Nadal added.

Argentina great Lionel Messi was unable to inspire his side to victory in their opening World Cup match in Qatar despite giving them the lead from the penalty spot

Messi scored in Argentina's 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia. The defeat marked Argentina's first defeat to a team outside the top 50 of the FIFA World Rankings in over 10 years. It also saw Argentina lose their first game of a World Cup for the first time since 1990.

Argentina's next game is on Saturday against Mexico.