Cesc Fabregas has questioned the true impact of Cristiano Ronaldo at the World Cup as he jumped to the defence of a besieged Lionel Messi following Argentina's disappointing performances in Russia.
The Real Madrid striker has struck four goals so far for Portugal but Fabregas, who failed to be named in Spain's squad this summer, has insinuated that his chances have been served to him on a platter.
And whilst Ronaldo is making the most of his chances, the Chelseamidfielder claimed Messi is struggling to match his output due to having the weight of Argentina's hopes on his shoulders as he weighed in on the debate surrounding the two greatest players currently in the game.
"These days, Cristiano Ronaldo has a very different role for Portugal, he mainly stays up front and you no longer see him running all over the pitch," he wrote in a column for BBC Sport.
"He is one of the big names in Russia who has made a strong start to this World Cup, in terms of goals, with four so far.
"Yes, he is playing well, but if you really look at what he has done, he has scored one penalty, one free kick, one goal from a corner and one with a shot that David De Gea should have saved.
"You cannot say that he and Portugal have shown great combinations or tiki-taka football to score great goals. You have to give him credit, of course, but his goals have come from set-pieces, penalties or mistakes."
Fabregas also looked to praise his former Barcelona teammate who has been unable to flourish amidst a troubling time for Argentina which has resulted in a draw with Iceland and a defeat to Croatia, leaving their hopes of qualifying for Last 16 hanging on a thread.
He added: "It was a similar story for Messi against Croatia, but it was not all his fault. As I said in my TV analysis after Argentina's defeat, they look like a broken team.
"So it is has been really difficult for him. He does not have the quality in behind him, when he needs someone who can help him build up the play."
Argentina must come out as victors in their final group game against Nigeria on Tuesday if they have any chance of progressing, whereas Portugal need only one point against Iran on Monday to guarantee their spot in the knockout stages.