Pope Francis declares that Lionel Messi is not God

Credit PA

Pope Francis has insisted Lionel Messi is nothing compared to God but admits he is great player.

Asked by Spanish television show Salvados on La Sexta whether such a billing for Messi could be considered sacrilegious, as it breaks the third commandment by using the Lord's name in vain, Pope Francis said: "In theory, it's a sacrilege". You can't say it, I don't believe.

And Pope Francis replied: "In theory it is sacrilege, you can not say it, I don't believe".

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde said his team is prioritising winning La Liga over the Champions League, while warning the European cup competition can "betray you" in 15 minutes.

"[Saying] "He's a god with the ball on the pitch" is a popular way to express yourself he's great to watch - but he's not God".

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When Evole replied that he thought it was fine to say that, the pontiff, a native of Argentina like Messi, responded with a laugh and said: "I don't". Subscribe to our SMS sports service by texting "SPORTS" to 22840.

Pope Francis is known to be a football fan and is a club member of Buenos Aires side San Lorenzo. Lionel Messi and company enjoyed Saturday's derby win against Espanyol, while 17th placed Villarreal were pulled closer to the drop zone by a painful defeat at fellow strugglers RC Celta.

In the 71st minute, Messi broke the deadlock and grabbed the lead thanks to a free-kick that could have been saved by Diego Lopez, but due to a defender on the line, the goalkeeper was unable to save the shot as his own teammate aided the attempt.

The Argentine is now four goals ahead of his nearest competitor Mbappe, who scored in Paris Saint-Germain's 1-0 win over Toulouse on Sunday to bring up his 27th Ligue 1 strike in 2018/19.

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