For over 10 years now, the debate over whether Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo is the better player has raged on. Even among soccer fans, there are strong opinions on which player has more skill, who scores more goals, and who deserves to be called the best in the world. To find out once and for all who is No 1, here’s an analysis of some of their most impressive stats so far this season to help you decide between the two world-class footballers.
A brief history
Messi and Ronaldo are two of the most well-known football players in history. Both players have been recognized for their prolific records of scoring goals and gaining popularity with fans. In recent years, both players have also had to struggle with injuries and failed to provide many on-field performances.
When they first started playing, Lionel Messi was 5 foot 3 inches tall, while Cristiano Ronaldo was 6 foot 2 inches tall. One thing that has helped make Cristiano famous is his hairstyle: long black hair draping down his face when he played soccer and now he sports a pixie cut which has helped shape his new on-field persona as someone who has no problem going down to win a ball.
Cristiano Ronaldo was born on February 5, 1985, in Funchal, Madeira. Cristiano’s first name is actually a variation of Christopher and means bearer of Christ. Both parents were athletes: his father played professional soccer while his mother was a national swimming champion. Despite his athletic genes, Cristiano showed little interest in playing sports as a child; however, he began playing soccer at age eight and joined youth teams at age 10. This sparked an interest in athletics that led him to compete in different track-and-field events throughout his childhood years. Before he could even finish high school, he signed a contract with Manchester United which is still active today.
Statistics from World Cups
Lionel Messi played only two World Cups, and scored five goals. He helped Argentina reach the final in 2014, where they lost 1-0 to Germany. Cristiano Ronaldo had a slightly more impressive record, playing four World Cups and scoring three goals. He was with Portugal when they finished third in 2006. In 2010 he helped them get to the quarter-finals for the first time, scoring four goals and becoming their all-time top scorer with 12 goals in total. In 2014, however, his contribution went unacknowledged as his country conceded eight goals from 16 shots on target and were knocked out at the group stage without winning a game – their worst showing ever.
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Season||Lionel Messi|
If we look at Europe’s major club competitions, though, things get a little bit more complicated. Lionel Messi has won five Champions League titles with Barcelona and became their all-time top scorer in November 2016. Cristiano Ronaldo also helped his team to win five Champions League titles (including last season) and he overtook Messi as Real Madrid’s all-time top scorer during 2017-18 campaign. Both players have been named UEFA Best Player in Europe during that time – Cristiano Ronaldo in 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons, Lionel Messi – 2011/12 and 2015/16 seasons. Who do you think is best player? Who do you like most?
But who is best?? They both are good!
A look at their play styles
Lionel Messi is a right-footed player, who plays mainly as a left winger, forward and second striker, but can also be deployed as an attacking midfielder. Known for his dribbling skills and ball control, he operates in the area of the field known as the last third and sets up attacking chances with through balls or passes from deeper positions. This allows him to participate in play even when far away from opponents’ goal. On occasions, he appears for long periods alongside another striker who specializes in aerial battles.
Cristiano Ronaldo, on other hand, is a more physical and versatile forward who can play on either wing as well as through the centre of attack. He has also been deployed in a deeper role as a second striker or attacking midfielder, usually in a 4–3–3 formation. In addition to his prolific goalscoring, he is known for his ball-striking from distance, dribbling skills, feints and ability to read the game.
These differences in style and appearance have earned both players nicknames. Fans and media have coined the term CR7 to refer to Cristiano Ronaldo, referencing his shirt number and iconic hairstyle. In contrast, Lionel Messi is known as Messi JR to differentiate him from his father Jorge Messi, a former professional footballer who played as an attacking midfielder. Unlike his father, Lionel chose not to change his surname and consequently shares his first name with one of the best strikers in history: Argentine legend Diego Maradona. His original nickname was El Pulga (The Flea) because of how small he was as a kid growing up in Argentina.
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Season||Lionel Messi|
Where would they be in the world today?
Both of these players are up there as some of the best to ever play, but when it comes down to who would be ranked No. 1, they’re not even close. With three Ballon d’Ors and five FIFA Player of the Year awards, no one else compares to Lionel Messi’s record-breaking career. By comparison, Cristiano Ronaldo has two Ballon d’Ors and three FIFA Player of the Year awards. It might seem like a close race on paper, but in reality it’s anything but. Messi could very well add a fourth Ballon d’Or in December to go with his fifth La Liga title this season, while Ronaldo will have to wait until next year for his first.
The final verdict
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are two of the best soccer players to ever live. However, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to who’s the better player. They each have their strengths and weaknesses and together they make up a dynamic duo of terror on any soccer pitch. The truth is that when all things are considered, we may never know for sure who the better player is. It seems like everyone has an opinion about it, but at this point it might be too early to tell. Let’s just appreciate these two greats for all that they’ve done for our sport!