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Rivalry with Messi like Ireland v UK, says Ronaldo

THEY're the footballing gods of La Liga, but Cristiano Ronaldo views his rivalry with Lionel Messi in more earthly terms - comparing it to the strife between Ireland and Britain.

The pair have faced-off for only five years in Spain in numerous classic clashes between Ronaldo's Real Madrid and Messi's Barcelona - a far cry from the hundreds of years of history across the Irish Sea.

However, a new book claims that Portuguese star Ronaldo (29) portrays his relationship with the 25-year-old Argentinian as like that "between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom".

The book, called Messi and written by Spanish football expert Guillem Balague, also says that according to some Real Madrid players Ronaldo's nickname for the Barcelona man is "motherf****r".

Balague writes that Ronaldo puts on "a brave face in front of his team-mates, not to be scared of Messi" and that it's "all very macho, all very false".

In reality, the Sky Sports pundit said "they do not hate each other" and much of the speculation about their relationship is "media-generated".

In an extract from his book published in the Daily Telegraph, he writes: "The relationship, in the presence of others, is cold.

Both are frequently named as the two best footballers in the world.