Messi or Ronaldo? In Football conversations, this question arises quite often over which one of
these footballing legends is better and why. Footballing fans all over the world make subjective
analysis over this debate based on their personal preferences. While some believe Lionel Messi
is currently the world’s best player, you can never write off the Portuguese ‘One Man Army’.
Over the past decade or so, Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, have
racked up most of the individual awards if not all, despite now being at an age of 34 years and
32 years respectively. But the question still remains, which one in this fierce professional rivalry
comes out on top and why? Or is it even viable comparing them? Let’s find out.
Early Struggle and Youth Career:
Born and raised in central Argentina, Messi, as a kid was diagnosed with growth hormone
deficiency. After relocating to Spain and joining Barcelona at age 13, the club agreed to pay for
his treatment. Since then, the kid has not looked back. From making his competitive debut at
the age of 17 to winning his first Ballon d’Or and the FIFA Player of the Year Award at an age of
22, the young Argentine was in the limelight at the very early stages of his career.
His counterpart, ‘Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro’, born in the islands of Madeira, was
diagnosed with a racing heart at the age of 15. After undergoing a successful operation, young
CR7 joined Sporting CP to kick start his senior club career, before joining Manchester United in
2003, aged 18. After winning the FA Cup with the Red Devils in his first season, he helped the
team win three consecutive Premier League titles before winning the Ballon d’Or and FIFA
Player of the Year at the age of 23.
Talking about the bread and butter of every attacker, goals and assists, Lionel Messi in his
entire career, in all competitions, for club and country, has scored over a staggering tally of 700
goals. In the past decade it would be hard to imagine any individual expecting a single player to
score this amount of goals. The Argentine has 625 goals, including starts and substitute
appearances, in all competitions in his club career. Wow. Add another 173 assists to his tally
over same period and number of games. These stats are never heard of and in all honesty, it
will take some time to have another Lionel Messi in the near future. The Barcelona man
currently holds the record for most goals in La Liga (428), a La Liga and European League
season (50), most assist in La Liga (173), most hattricks in the UEFA Champions League (8).
He has also scored 70 goals in 138 appearances and is the country’s all-time top goal scorer
and holds the record for most official goals in a calendar year with 91 goals.
Ronaldo on the other hand isn’t far behind. The Portuguese has scored over 608 club goals
over his entire career, playing for Sporting CP, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus.
Again wow. He also holds the record for the most number of goals in the UEFA Champions
League with a staggering tally of 127 goals, 99 goals for Portugal and likewise Messi, has over
700 senior goals for club and country.
Ronaldo and Messi: The Fantasy ‘fantasies’
Both these players are a blessing to the individuals playing fantasy football leagues. Goals and
assists for an attacker is the bread and butter in terms of fantasy football points. With their
attack minded nature of football and them being the talismen of their respective teams, both
Messi and Ronaldo are bound to score loads of goals and assists. They are also on set pieces,
direct free-kicks and penalty duties for their respective teams, which only increases their
demand and points potential when it comes to fantasy football. Thus, on a whole, both Messi
and Ronaldo are gifts from Fantasy Gods to managers playing Fantasy Football.
Style of Play:
Every player in the current era has different and intriguing styles of playing the game. So do
these legends of modern football. Messi and Ronaldo differ mostly in their style of play. The
Argentine is a virtuoso, a magician with the ball at his feet. Being short in stature, he has a low
centre of gravity, helping him to switch lines and his pace quickly. This usually is a nightmare for
defenders as they cannot cope with the quick turn of pace. Along with this, his dribbling is
considered to be one of the best the game has ever seen. Another eye catching attribute of his
game is his passing and shooting. There are hardly any players in the world today with the
precision of passing and shooting like Messi. When required, he drops deep, controls play and
then moves into the opposition’s box. Seeing Messi get past multiple players with his quick feet
and movement, pave this way through the opposition’s defense and put the ball past the keeper
is a treat to watch for footballing fans.
The Portuguese on the other hand is a bit different. One would say he doesn’t possess the
same magic Messi does, however Ronaldo himself is a machine. Being tall, strong and
aesthetic, he is more of a direct player and a goal scorer. The game is now faster, stronger,
physical and more dynamic than ever. While Messi might have more talent, Ronaldo’s
combination of physical and technical attributes might give him an edge over the Argentine.
Playing on the left wing and then shifting central, Ronaldo is one of the more direct players in
the footballing world now. Although it’s arguable that his workrate for the team in defensive
sense isn’t the best, he takes all his chances in the opposition’s box very well. He has a serious
right combines with his left, scoring screamers for both Manchester United and Real Madrid.
Along with that, being 6”1’, he possesses jumping attributes of an NBA player and is a serious
threat in the air in the opposition’s box. His athleticism, dazzling pace, physicality and powerful
shooting might give him a slight edge in this modern era of football.
‘Talent’ vs ’Hard work’?
One of the main debatable topics while comparing these legends is “Messi’s ‘Talent’ vs
Ronaldo’s ‘Hard work’”. So let’s have a look at both sides of the coin here. Ronaldo, being a
very skinny boy in his early days has shown the world, how hard work leads to an amazing
transformation. In today’s date, the Portuguese is one of the fittest personalities in the world.
Starting his career as a young kid at Sporting CP, compared to Messi’s Barcelona (with all due
respect to Sporting CP), Ronaldo joined the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and
Juventus. The Portuguese played as the talisman of every team without having the talents
behind or with him, like Messi had at Barcelona. Well, debatable. Being a direct runner, good in
the air, minimum time on the sidelines, his physical attributes are something to envy. However,
some may argue Messi’s hard work goes unnoticed for a lot of people. The Argentine in his
early days wasn’t the best at taking free kicks and wasn’t a great playmaker as he was too
direct. But, over the years, he has become the best free kick taker and the best play maker in
the world currently. Well, isn’t that hard work? Although it’s arguable that Messi had the likes of
Xavi and Iniesta behind him, that doesn’t make a player great by default, does it? On a whole,
there’s no talent without hard work and no hard work without talent. Uncompromised hard work,
dedication and talent is what makes a player great and that is something that separates both
these giants from the rest of the footballing crowd.
The International Stage:
Another debatable topic is how Ronaldo carries his national team all by himself and Messi
doesn’t. Portugal won the Euros 2016 with Ronaldo, as expected, at the heart of everything.
However, Messi hasn’t won a single international trophy. The losses in the COPA America finals
and the World Cup finals now mean Argentina have lost three major finals under the Barcelona
man. Also, Ronaldo edges Messi by some margin in terms of international goals. Ronaldo is
sitting one shy of a century of goals for Portugal while Messi is on 70. However, both are the all-
time leading scorers for their individual national teams.
Honors and Achievements:
When it comes to honors and achievements, both, the Portugal and the Argentine are neck to
neck with each other. Ronaldo has won 28 major trophies while Messi has won 35. However,
Ronaldo’s major trophies are across Sporting CP, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus
and Portugal while Messi with only Barcelona and Argentina. With the Argentine winning the
Ballon d’Or now in 2019, he now has six Ballon d’Or trophies compared to Ronaldo’s five.
It is difficult to come to a conclusion to this debate or comparison because honestly, there
shouldn’t be one. We should be blessed to live in an era where we are able to watch two of the
greatest players to ever grace the pitch, go neck to neck against each other. Succeeding
individually and also with their respective teams, whilst having supremely different styles of play
is what makes them great.
Ronaldo was a kid who started his career at Sporting CP and then paved his way through to
Manchester United, still relatively unknown. From Portugal to England to Spain to Italy, Ronaldo
has won trophies in abundance wherever he has played. While Messi started his career as a
teenager at Barcelona itself, playing with world class players alongside. Some may also argue
that Ronaldo has more international goals and trophies than the Argentine. Although numbers
point in Messi’s direction, Ronaldo has stamped his authority over the International stage and
multiple leagues all across Europe. It is thus arguable that when this footballing era ends,
Ronaldo might have an upper hand over Messi, but again, by a hair’s breadth.
But until then, let’s just appreciate what we get to see with these incredible talents, week in