Lionel Messi has a new challenge: Carry Spanish league with Ronaldo gone


SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Martin Rogers previews the 2018 International Champions Cup, featuring Europe’s elite soccer clubs such as Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus.

It would be easy to think that Lionel Messi’s job got a little easier when Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid to join Italian champion Juventus.

Or maybe it got more difficult. Messi is the type of character who thrives upon a challenge, and there is no doubt that his personal rivalry with Ronaldo spurred both to greater heights.

“This is one of the biggest challenges he has faced now,” former Barcelona star Patrick Kluivert told USA TODAY Sports on Thursday. “It has been normal for Messi to have that battle with Ronaldo. Now the question is whether Messi can motivate himself to become the best again now that things have changed. I think he can.”

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