Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka reckons the “unbelievable” Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi reside on a different plane compared to football’s other stars.
Ronaldo was at the top of his game on Wednesday to fire Portugal into the UEFA Nations League final. He bagged his 53rd career hat-trick to help the hosts defeat Switzerland 3-1 in the semi-finals.
Despite Ricardo Rodriguez’s controversial VAR-induced penalty cancelling out his brilliant free-kick, Ronaldo fired home two late goals to wrap up victory for Portugal.
Following another standout display, plaudits have been coming the Juventus star’s way for being the difference on the big stage once again.
“I think we had a very good game. In my opinion, we were the better team but the difference is they have Ronaldo,” said Xhaka, according to Goal.
“It’s unbelievable what a player he is. It’s not for nothing that he’s one of the best players in the world.
“He’s special because he knows always where you have to go and to be.
“I think we had him in our hands but, in the end, he scored three times and we lost the game.
“I think we can be proud of how we play, against a very good team.”
Interestedly, the Arsenal midfielder had compared taking on Ronaldo to Chelsea star Eden Hazard prior to Wednesday’s meeting.
However, Xhaka changed his opinion on the matter afterwards and conceded the Portuguese superstar is from another planet along with Messi.
When quizzed on if he feels Ronaldo is the world’s best player, Xhaka replied: “One of them. In my opinion, you have two of them. They are not in this world.
“Those two are clear of the rest. If you play at 34 on this level you deserve a lot of respect.
“He shows in all the games – international and with Juventus – that he has unbelievable quality.
“It’s difficult to stop him and he showed up not in a good moment for us.”
Ronaldo and Portugal will be back in action on Sunday for the Nations League final against the Netherlands in Porto.