ROME • Cristiano Ronaldo lost his cool on Tuesday when he was asked if the bond among Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar off the pitch has given Barcelona the edge this season.
The Portuguese forward, Real Madrid's all-time record scorer, was already infuriated by questions about his form and lack of away goals in recent games during a press conference ahead of yesterday's Champions League tie at AS Roma.
When asked whether Barca's free-scoring attacking trio had the edge over their Real counterparts - Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale - because they get on so well together, he blew his top.
"How do we know that (their relationship) is that way? Only because that is what gets written," he said. "I am going to tell you something. When I was at United, I didn't speak (away from the pitch) to (Ryan) Giggs, (Paul) Scholes and (Rio) Ferdinand apart from the normal 'good morning' but we won the Champions League. We talked on the pitch and that is all that mattered.
"Does it matter that I don't go out for dinner with Benzema or that Bale does not come to my house. It is not important. What we need is to get on on the field. We don't have to give each other kisses.
"This thing about the little meals, the little hugs, the little kisses. To me, that doesn't mean anything."
Ronaldo formed the most potent strike force in Europe with Bale and Benzema in the 2013-14 season and they won the club's 10th European Cup together, with the Portuguese scoring his 17th goal of the tournament in the final.
But the following season, they were outclassed by Barcelona's front three when Suarez arrived from Liverpool to play alongside Messi and Neymar. Barca's trio scored 122 goals together on their way to winning the treble.
This season, Messi, Suarez and Neymar have added the European Super Cup and the Fifa Club World Cup to the collection and their camaraderie off the pitch has, in part, been credited with Barca's sensational form.
Ronaldo appeared ruffled when asked about the Messi-Suarez two-touch penalty on Sunday, hailed by some as the "penalty of the century". "I know why he (Messi) did it and I am not going to say anything more than that. You can think whatever you like," he said.
The Portugal international has scored 32 goals this season in 30 games played in all competitions but has failed to score in 15 matches and not found the net away from home with his last 16 goals all at the Santiago Bernabeu.
When asked about his dry run on the road ahead of yesterday's clash with Roma at the Stadio Olimpico, the 31-year-old - who broke the Champions League's record for the most goals scored in the group stages earlier this season when he hit 11 and is also the tournament's all-time top scorer with 88 goals in 121 appearances - said: "Since I have been in Spain, name one player who has scored more goals than me away from home."
When no one responded, he added, "You don't have one", and walked out of the press room.
"It's understandable that people have doubts," he had said earlier. "It's like with a son when you give him everything and then when you take it away, he cries. I hope that I can keep this 'bad form' up until the season's end."
Ferdinand later laughed off Ronaldo's comments on BT Sport, saying the spiky press conference performance "just shows the emotion he's got in him, and the desire to win". "At the moment, everyone's talking about Barcelona and he's not happy with that," said Ferdinand. "And that's his competitive streak coming out."
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE