In football (or soccer depending on where you hail), two colossal figures loom large: Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese legend who currently captains Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr FC and has previously graced the fields of Manchester United, Juventus, and Real Madrid, and Lionel Messi, the Argentinian phenomenon who once dazzled with FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, and now embarks on a new journey with America’s Inter Miami.
These two football titans have collected nearly every individual accolade over the past two decades, and despite their advancing ages (38 and about-to-turn 36, respectively, as of 2023), they continue to defy the passage of time. Their performances in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, particularly Messi’s championship-winning run, serve as evidence that they remain at the pinnacle of their careers. Yet, in the end, only one can be deemed the best – the legendary Ronaldo or the steadfast one-team man, Messi?
Advanced statistics prove Messi is better
While both Ronaldo and Messi boast impressive statistics, a deeper analysis reveals that Messi not only makes better decisions but also brings more value to his team. The Economist once evaluated Messi’s and Ronaldo’s goals using a context-based framework, consistently showing that Messi excels in scoring during the crucial last minutes of the game, often referred to as injury-time goals.
Furthermore, Messi’s decision-making skills outshine Ronaldo’s, as demonstrated by a complex algorithm employed by a company called GoodCall. This algorithm assesses a player’s decision-making and Efficiency Per Match (EPM), valuing every pass, shot, chance created, or dribble made. Over time, Messi’s EPM and decision-making ratings have consistently exceeded Ronaldo’s.
Messi is a better team player
Messi’s brilliance extends beyond his scoring prowess and playmaking abilities; he elevates the performance of his teammates. A true leader, he unites his team and consistently provides more assists and key passes than Ronaldo. Messi’s exceptional vision keeps his colleagues involved in the game, and his tactical intelligence allows him to create dangerous attacking opportunities by finding open spaces and delivering pinpoint passes. His versatility and ability to drop deep to control possession set him apart from Ronaldo.
Messi and Ronaldo differ primarily in their playing styles. While Ronaldo is a powerhouse with remarkable physical attributes and immense talent, Messi possesses a unique kind of magic that has created many memories for people watching the game on streaming sites such as Sky Q estero. His dribbling is often hailed as the best the game has ever seen, and his precision in passing and shooting resembles that of a skilled surgeon. Messi’s mesmerizing moves leave spectators speechless as he weaves through defenses and places the ball past the goalkeeper.
Ronaldo is a more advanced player
Modern soccer demands more dynamism and athleticism than ever before, and Ronaldo’s blend of physical and technical prowess gives him an edge. Standing at 6’1″ of pure Portuguese muscle, he is challenging to dispossess. Ronaldo’s combination of speed, dribbling ability, and powerful shooting with both feet strikes fear into opposing defenses.
He is better suited to today’s fast-paced game, thanks to his unparalleled athleticism, combining rapid speed with the shooting and jumping ability reminiscent of an NBA star. Even in his late 30s, Ronaldo maintains this high level of performance, making him an ideal model for the next generation of players.
Ronaldo is the driving force behind his team
One advantage Messi holds over Ronaldo is his extensive trophy collection, largely due to playing for a dominant team throughout his career. Messi’s Barcelona teammates share a deep understanding of each other’s playstyle, having grown together since childhood, resulting in seamless teamwork.
On the other hand, Ronaldo is often the driving force of his teams. While not discounting the quality of his teammates, they may not match the caliber of Messi’s associates. Ronaldo has played alongside remarkable talents but has frequently been the linchpin of his squads. This dynamic resembles Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs versus LeBron James in Cleveland.
The International paradigm
Ronaldo’s international career elevates him above Messi in this debate. Prior to the 2022 World Cup, Messi had not secured an international trophy, having lost finals in both the Copa America and the 2014 World Cup. In contrast, Ronaldo boasts superior international goal-scoring statistics in competitive matches, with 102 goals compared to Messi’s 54. He led Portugal to victory in the 2016 European Championship. Additionally, Ronaldo’s status as the higher-paid football player underscores his greater marketability and worth.
The Final Whistle: Ronaldo or Messi?
In the end, the debate between Ronaldo and Messi transcends statistics and accolades. It is a matter of personal preference, often dividing fans into Team Messi or Team Ronaldo. Messi shines as a team player and a maestro on the field, while Ronaldo embodies athleticism and international success. Which side are you on?