Mourinho: With Ronaldo eliminated, Messi knows the Ballon d’Or is waiting

Juventus’ Champions League elimination means that Lionel Messi already has an advantage in the 2019 Ballon d’Or, according to Jose Mourinho.

Mourinho knows Manchester United better than most, having started off the season with them, and he analysed their Champions League tie against Barcelona, the second leg of which was decided by the Argentine.

“Messi’s position is easy to understand, but it’s not easy to create a cage to contain him,” the Portuguese said on Russia Today.

“Manchester United in the first match zonally occupied that central area very well, but in this match I think they tried to start the game with a different perspective.

“In front of the defensive line there was only Fred and that’s the area where Messi comes.

“When Messi has the ball one-on-one you are dead.

“You have to create a cage around Messi.

“Messi is having a phenomenal season and, with Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo out of this fight, he knows that the Ballon d’Or is there waiting for him.

“I would say they are a bit more of a favourite than Liverpool, but I also think it’s 50-50.”