Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has doubts as to whether Eden Hazard can fill into Cristiano Ronaldo's shoes at Real Madrid ahead of the El Clasico on Wednesday, December 18.
The Belgian has endured a mixed start to his career at Madrid scoring just once in 13 appearances for his new club before succumbing to an ankle injury which is likely to rule him out of action until mid-January.
Speaking ahead of the El Clasico clash, Messi believes it is unfair to judge Hazard by the same standards as Ronaldo, "Hazard has a lot of quality.
"He’s a different player who can unbalance teams, but I think he’s different to Cristiano. He has other qualities. It’s really difficult to cover the loss of Ronaldo, but Hazard’s a great player."
Barcelona enjoy a 100% league record at home this season but Messi believes that Madrid will provide a stern test, "When we play at the Bernabeu, a lot more space is generated.
"They’re obliged to come at us more because they’re the home team and the fans are pushing for that. At Camp Nou, they play a different game, looking more on the counter-attack with quick players in attack.
"In the Bernabeu, it’s face-to-face for 90 minutes. (At Camp Nou) the game is tighter, it’s more complicated."