Throughout his illustrious career, Marcelo has faced some of the toughest opponents in the world of football. As a constant feature for Real Madrid for 15 trophy-laden years and representing Brazil 58 times between 2006 and 2018, Marcelo has established himself as one of the best left-backs of his generation. Playing at left-back means that his direct competition is the other team’s right winger, and Marcelo has faced a long list of tussles over the years, including taking on Ousmane Dembele, Pedro, Leroy Sane, and Hakim Ziyech. However, there is one name that stands above the rest, and it has Marcelo quaking in his boots. Ironically, the dreaded forward is also the opponent he has faced the most in his entire career.
The pair have met on the pitch a whopping 33 times, totalling 2,556 minutes. Marcelo has won ten, drawn seven, and lost 16 times against Lionel Messi. The pair’s battles appear to be over now, with both men leaving their respective El Clasico giants and Marcelo no longer playing international football. But even so, the defender still rates the 35-year-old ex-Barcelona superstar and seven-time Ballon d’Or winner among the very best in the world.
Marcelo told The Athletic: “Messi is incredible, the toughest opponent I’ve ever faced. 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.” Marcelo also credited his pal Cristiano Ronaldo and other “incredible” players for helping make it a historic time for the iconic LaLiga rivalry.
The left-back left the Bernabeu in 2022 for a brief stint at Olympiacos but in February 2023 returned to boyhood club Fluminense in an “incredibly emotional” move. He called the transfer his “coming home” and the “best moment” of his life. Marcelo added: “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.”
Marcelo’s career has been nothing short of remarkable, and he has faced some of the toughest opponents in the world. However, it is Lionel Messi who stands out as his toughest opponent, and even though their battles appear to be over, Marcelo still rates Messi among the very best in the world. Marcelo’s return to Fluminense has been an emotional one, and he is looking forward to playing in the Copa Libertadores, which he has never done before. Marcelo’s career may be winding down, but his legacy as one of the best left-backs of his generation is secure.