Messi vs. Ronaldo: Why Barcelona star is better than Real Madrid counterpart

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The romanticism of any sport lies in the rivalries it offers to the world. Football is known as “The Beautiful Game”, and this beauty has evolved with classic rivalries between two outstanding sportsmen. From Pele vs. Maradona to Patrick Viera vs. Roy Keane, admirers of the game have been enhanced with classic tales of famous duels. However, there is one, which will forever be remembered as the greatest rivalry football has gifted to the sporting world. It is between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Many might argue that Pele vs. Maradona might take the prime position in the rivalries ladder, but one must remember that neither player played during the same era. Football world has been blessed to see Ronaldo and Messi ply their trade across the football pitch at the same time. This is the reason the rivalry has reached an astronomical stage and debates run wild regarding who is the best.

Messi has a more subtle nature to his play and is seen occupying the center of the field and involves his teammates into attacks. This is in contrast to Ronaldo’s game, who is seen in a more robust role on the wings and is more comfortable of making solo runs. Ronaldo is often related to being a better finisher than Messi, while the Argentine is credited for having more skills with the ball than the Portuguese.

Ronaldo looks more athletic of the two and has a more muscular physique. Messi on the other hand has a balance which one could die for. Despite having a miniature size, Messi’s heroics with the ball has seen him go past defenders with ease which Ronaldo often fails to do. Ronaldo is also criticized for not turning up in big matches.

The above summary of both the players are made in context to what experts, critics and fans say. The comparisons are all subjective and could easily differ from person to person.

This is the reason we at Sports Rageous decided to make a statistical analysis to finally deduce who among Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo could be termed as “Best in the World”.

1) Overview


2) International Performance


Despite their success stories at club level, both Messi and Ronaldo have been unable to replicate it for their respective national teams. Although Messi has a couple of tournament finals to his name, his international records are bleak in comparison to his time at Barcelona and has been often criticized by his countrymen for that. Ronaldo has had decent success with his Portugal team considering that he does not possess quality teammates in his national squad. Ronaldo guided his team to the final of Euro 2004 and then the semifinals of the World Cup in 2006 and Euro 2012.

In terms of statistical analysis, Messi outranks Ronaldo in regards to his contribution to the team. The Argentine has better goals and assists per game data than Ronaldo and also generates a goal every 106m 24s, which is lesser than Ronaldo’s 124m 12s.

3) Club Performance


When we shift our focus from the international stage to the club football landscape, we see a similar trend where Messi has a clear advantage. The Argentine has scored more goals per game that Ronaldo and is ahead on assists as well.

Messi is ahead on almost all the departments except for total goals scored, but it that can be expected as he has played around 139 games less than the Portuguese.

4) Free Kicks and Hattricks

Free Kicks and Hattricks

In terms of goals scored from free kicks, CR7 is ahead by some distance. The 31-year-old has scored a total of 47 goals from free kicks. Messi on the other hand has 26 goals scored from free kicks to his name.

Even in hattricks, the Portugal captain has 3 more goals than the Barcelona forward.

5) Penalties


Cristiano Ronaldo has often been criticized for scoring a lot of goals from penalties. If we compare the data of the two superstars, we can easily see that CR7 has scored 91 goals out of 109 penalties taken. Messi on the other hand has scored a total of 68 goals from 87 penalties.

In terms of accuracy, Ronaldo has a higher percentage of 83.49% in comparison to Messi’s 78.16%.

6) Team Honors

Team Honor

Team honors in football cannot be credited to individual achievements, but since these two has been a major part of their team’s success over the years, it is natural to see who stands where in terms of trophies earned.

Messi has a clear advantage as he has won almost all the trophies more number of times than Ronaldo. The 28-year-old has won a total of 29 trophies in comparison to Ronaldo’s 18.

Even in international stage, Messi can boast of an Olympic gold medal which the Portugal captain cannot.

7) Individual Honors

Individual Honors

Both go toe-to-toe when one looks at their individual honors. Messi has edged Ronaldo by meager 3, but that is mostly due to him winning the Ballon d’Or 2 times more and also having a World Cup Golden Ball under his belt.

8) Ratings


Messi – 10/10
Ronaldo – 10/10


Messi – 10/10
Ronaldo – 8/10


Messi – 5/10
Ronaldo – 9/10

Free Kicks

Messi – 8/10
Ronaldo – 9/10


Messi – 6/10
Ronaldo – 8/10


Messi – 10/10
Ronaldo – 8/10

Team Play

Messi – 10/10
Ronaldo – 7/10

Physical Play

Messi – 6/10
Ronaldo – 9/10


Messi – 8/10
Ronaldo – 6/10


Messi – 81/90
Ronaldo – 80/90

Winner: Messi

In the end, both are great footballers and we are lucky to have them both gracing the football pitch at the same era. Although success in football depends mostly on a team, individual brilliance also plays a major role in a team being successful. Messi and Ronaldo are two of those players who could improve any football team on a given day.

Looking at their statistics, it could be said that the Argentina international edges out the Portuguese in terms of numbers. Even in ratings, Messi just gives a photo finish to Ronaldo, but eventually comes out as the winner in the duel.

The debate of “who is the best” will not end today and will probably continue for eternity. However, we at Sports Rageous tried to look into their battle from a number’s perspective and discovered that Messi fares the better numbers than Ronaldo.

Many may argue that numbers doesn’t tell the truth. However, we sign off by saying that they do not lie either.

Statistics courtesy: michelacosta.com

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