THE ETERNAL DEBATE: Messi or Ronaldo?

Messi or Ronaldo? Solving the eternal debate

Messi or Ronaldo, Ronaldo or Messi? Without a doubt, the biggest conundrum in football history. However, it shouldn’t even be a question, let alone a debate. Therefore, today I’m gonna try my best to debunk some of the most common arguments in favor of Cristiano Ronaldo, against Lionel Messi. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

RONALDO’S STATS ARE BETTER

Not quite. Ronaldo’s stats might seem better at first glance, given the fact that he has more goals than his adversary, but let’s not forget that Cristiano is two and a half years, or exactly 869 days, older than Messi and has played 144 matches more than the little magician. Let’s dive into the numbers:

GOALS:
Messi – 697 in 856 (0.81);
Cristiano – 725 in 1000 (0.73).

CLUB GOALS:
Messi – 627 in 718 (0.87);
Cristiano – 626 in 836 (0.75).

INTERNATIONAL GOALS:
Messi – 70 in 138 (0.51);
Cristiano – 99 in 164 (0.6).

LEAGUE GOALS:
Messi – 438 in 474 (0.92);
Cristiano – 440 in 566 (0.78).

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GOALS:
Messi – 114 in 141 (0.81);
Cristiano – 128 in 169 (0.76).

OTHER (Copa del Rey, Spanish Supercup, FA Cup, League Cup, Community Shield, Club World Cup, UEFA Supercup):
Messi – 75 in 103 (0.73);
Cristiano – 57 in 95 (0.6). 

CLUB GOALS SINCE RONALDO’S MOVE TO SPAIN:
Messi – 546 in 556 (0.982);
Cristiano – 503 in 513 (0.980).

CLUB GOALS SINCE RONALDO’S MOVE TO ITALY:
Messi – 75 in 81 (0.93);
Cristiano – 53 in 75 (0.7). 

Messi’s ratio is better in 7 out of 8 categories, but who’s goalscoring peak was higher?

MOST GOALS IN A SEASON:
Messi – 73 in 60 (1,22) (2011/12);
Cristiano – 61 in 54 (1,12) (2014/15).

MOST GOALS IN A CALENDAR YEAR:
Messi – 91 in 69 (1,31) (2012, world record);
Cristiano – 69 in 59 (1,16) (2013).

Now, let’s take an elaborate look into their goals.

GOALS AFTER ONE DRIBBLE:
Messi – 137 (19.7%);
Cristiano – 48 (6.6%).

GOALS AFTER TWO DRIBBLES:
Messi – 49 (7%);
Cristiano – 11 (1.5%).

GOALS AFTER THREE DRIBBLES:
Messi – 15 (2.2%);
Cristiano – 2 (0.3%).

GOALS AFTER FOUR OR MORE DRIBBLES:
Messi – 4 (0.6%);
Cristiano – 0.

And how many times have they delivered the so-called ‘pass before the pass’ and latched onto the end of it?

PRE-ASSISTED GOALS:
Messi – 109 (16%);
Cristiano – 15 (2%).

Through pre-assisted goals, let’s make our way over to their assists:

ALL-TIME ASSISTS:
Messi – 292 in 856 (0.34);
Cristiano – 220 in 1000 (0.22).

MOST ASSISTS IN A SEASON:
Messi – 29 in 60 (0.48) (2011/12);
Cristiano – 21 in 54 (0.39) (2014/15).

MOST ASSISTS IN A CALENDAR YEAR:
Messi – 36 in 70 (0.52) (2011);
Cristiano – 20 in 60 (0.33) (2014).

Putting two and two together, we can see that Messi has been directly involved in more goals than he’s played games. 986 goals in 856 games, 130 more goals than games or 1.15 goals per game. Cristiano’s direct goal involvement reaches a tally of 945 goals in exactly 1000 games or 0.945 goals per game. That’s 41 less than Messi in 144 more games.

Finally, let’s take a look at their direct clashes:

HEAD TO HEAD:
35 Games.

WINS:
Messi – 16 (46%);
Ronaldo – 10 (29%).

GOALS:
Messi – 22 (0.63);
Ronaldo – 19 (0.54).

ASSISTS:
Messi – 14 (0.4);
Ronaldo – 1 (0.03).

TOTAL:
Messi – 36 (1.03);
Ronaldo – 20 (0.57).

This includes a Champions League Final (2009), in which Messi scored a stunning header to deny his rival’s celebrations for the night.

RONALDO IS THE BETTER FREE KICK TAKER

For many years, Cristiano Ronaldo was renowned for being one of the best free kick takers in world football. Stunning goals like those against Villarreal, Arsenal and, above all, Portsmouth made it clear that Ronaldo is among the very best when it comes to dead ball situations. However, those days are long gone and the tables have since turned. Messi has drastically improved his free kicks, so much that you could almost say opponents would rather give him a penalty than a free kick near the box.

When we look at their all-time numbers, Cristiano comes out on top.

ALL-TIME FREE KICKS:
Messi – 52;
Cristiano – 54.

But, let’s take a look at their numbers since 2009/10, Cristiano’s first season in Spain.

FREE KICKS SINCE 09/10:
Messi – 51;
Cristiano – 40. 

Already, we can see how things have changed. The difference only gets bigger as time passes. Here are their numbers in the past 5 seasons.

FREE KICKS SINCE 15/16:
Messi – 33;
Cristiano – 10.

And even more recent numbers:

FREE KICKS SINCE RONALDO’S MOVE TO ITALY:
Messi – 12;
Cristiano – 1.

Just one free kick goal in almost 2 years for Ronaldo, which he scored in a Portugal shirt, meaning he’s yet to score one for Juventus.

It’s also worth mentioning that Messi managed to score a free kick in three consecutive games three times (2017, 2018, 2019). Moreover, he also scored three ’dead-ball-doubles’ throughout his career (Sevilla 2015, Espanyol 2018, Celta 2019), as many as his Portuguese counterpart (Stoke 2008, Zurich 2009, Villarreal 2010).

MESSI WOULD FLOP IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE

MESSI WOULD FLOP IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE, where ronaldo was great

Probably the worst of the bunch. “Messi would flop outside of Spain/Barcelona” is an extremely flawed argument as it’s completely based on a guess. Is it factual, has it happened? No.
So, how can we at least come close to putting this PL flop theory to the test? By taking a look at Messi’s performances against English sides in the Champions League.

MESSI’S UCL GOALS AGAINST PREMIER LEAGUE SIDES:
9 vs Arsenal;
6 vs Manchester City;
4 vs Manchester United;
3 vs Chelsea;
2 vs Liverpool;
2 vs Spurs.

26 in 34 (0.76).

This includes a 4-goal haul against Arsenal, a hat-trick against Man City, 2 UCL-final goals against United and a Puskás nominated goal vs Liverpool in a UCL semi. Some of Messi’s finest outings in all of his career came against the very best of the Premier League, but yeah, I’m sure he could never pull it off on a cold rainy night at Stoke.

For comparison, let’s see how many goals Cristiano has scored against these teams. Keep in mind, he was a Manchester United player from 2003 to 2009.

CRISTIANO’S GOALS AGAINST PREMIER LEAGUE TOP 6:
10 vs Spurs;
6 vs Arsenal;
5 vs Manchester City;
3 vs Manchester United;
3 vs Liverpool;
1 vs Chelsea.

28 in 79 (0.35).

Two more than Messi. In 45 more games. Yes.

If we add assists (Messi 6, Ronaldo 9), we can see that the Argentine is directly involved in a goal every 90 minutes and 39 seconds against the top teams in the England, while Cristiano needs almost double the time to make an impact: 172 minutes and 29 seconds.

Following his move to Italy, Ronaldo has attracted even more praise now that he’s ’proven himself’ in yet another team and league, however, his time at Juventus hasn’t been extraordinary so far. Juventus have won the Serie A 7 years in a row before Cristiano’s arrival, so an 8th title came as a surprise to no one. Champions League success, which was the main reason why the Bianconeri bought the striker, is yet to arrive.

MESSI HAS NO INTERNATIONAL TROPHIES

While it’s true that Messi hasn’t been able to clinch any major international trophies with Argentina, it would be false to say he hasn’t seen any success with his national team. As a youngster, Messi led his country to an Olympic gold medal and an U20 World Cup title. Furthermore, he was even chosen as the standout performer of the latter competition, being awarded the Golden Ball to acompany his Golden Boot for scoring 6 goals, 2 of which came in the 2-1 final.

Sticking to senior football only, he’s been to 4 senior finals and lost each one, 2 of them on penalties. In one of those, he missed his shot (Copa América 2016), but just for a moment, let’s focus on the one he scored – Copa América 2015. He was the first one to take a penalty and he scored. Here’s why I mention this:
That’s where his contribution to the game ends, now it’s all down to his teammates.
Higuaín missed, Banega missed, Chile won.
Tell me this, if these two players had scored their penalties, would that have made Messi any better?

A year later, Cristiano Ronaldo played a fairly average tournament at the 2016 Euros. He got injured in the final and substituted out of the game.
That’s where his contribution to the game ends, now it’s all down to his teammates.
Eder scored, Portugal won and Cristiano got the glory.
Tell me this, if Eder hadn’t scored, would that have made Ronaldo any less good?

In addition to the Euro 2016 victory, Portugal won the first ever edition of UEFA’s Nations League in 2019 to make it 2-0 for Ronaldo on the international stage. Still, I believe Messi is a far better performer for Argentina than Ronaldo is for Portugal, which brings me to the next point, similar to the previous one:  

MESSI DOESN’T PERFORM WELL WITH ARGENTINA

This is one of the most common arguments in a Messi v Ronaldo debate. And it’s wrong. Messi’s performances with Argentina are incredible, way more often than not. All it takes to see this is to turn on the tv when Argentina is playing. However, most people won’t bother, so let’s look at the facts and statistics.

Messi is Argentina’s top scorer, top scorer in world cup qualifiers, top assist maker, as well as the only player to score against all South American Nations.

If Messi doesn’t perform well with the national team, then, obviously, there’s no reason for them to have better results with him than without him.  But… the following stat is from Argentina’s World Cup Qualifiers for Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018.

ARGENTINA’S WIN PERCENTAGE:
With Messi – 72%;
Without Messi – 19%.

It doesn’t get much simpler than this, does it?

Now, NT comparisons between Messi and Ronaldo.

INTERNATIONAL GOALS:
Messi – 70 in 138 (0.51);
Cristiano – 99  in 164 (0.6).

INTERNATIONAL ASSISTS:
Messi – 42 in 138 (0.3);
Cristiano – 28 in 164 (0.17).

TOTAL:
Messi – 112 in 138 (0.81);
Cristiano – 127 in 164 (0.77).

We can see who the more influential player is, even just by looking at the stats. Next, let’s see who their favorite opponents are:

FAVORITE INTERNATIONAL VICTIMS:
Messi – Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay (5) Venezuela, Ecuador (4);
Cristiano – Lithuania (7); Sweden, Andorra, Latvia, Armenia, Luxembourg (5).

Messi’s favorite international victims are significantly better than Ronaldo’s. Let’s take a look at the average rank of their victims at the time they scored the goals:

AVERAGE RANK OF OPPONENT:
Messi – 29.6;
Cristiano – 83.3.

And how often do they score against ’big’ National Teams?

Messi – 5x Brazil, Uruguay, 3x Colombia, Chile, 2x Spain, 1x Portugal, Germany, France;
Cristiano – 4x The Netherlands, 3x Belgium, Spain, 1x Poland, Argentina. 

It has to be said, though, that Cristiano has more goals for the NT in his best year than Messi, 14 compared to the Argentine’s 12, and holds the record for most World Cup Qualifier goals ever – 30, compared to Messi’s 21.

But how do they compare in International Competitions?

WORLD CUP GOALS + ASSISTS:
Messi – 6 + 5 in 19 (0.58);
Cristiano – 7 + 2 in 17 (0.53).

EURO/COPA AMÉRICA GOALS + ASSISTS:
Messi – 9 + 11 in 25 (0.8);
Cristiano – 9 + 4 in 21 (0.62).

En masse, Messi has had a hand in 31 goals in 44 competitive games for Argentina (0.7) compared to Ronaldo’s 22 in 38 (0.58).

Messi’s biggest accolade in his senior international career is probably the Golden Ball he received for his performances at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Of course, some try to undermine it by saying Messi only scored in the group stages. They’re not wrong, he did. And so did Cristiano. The difference? The difference is that Messi’s goals took Argentina to the knockout phase:

1 goal in the 2–1 victory over Bosnia;
1 in a 1–0 victory over Iran, in added time;
2 in the 3–2 victory over Nigeria.

So he scored 4 goals and got 3 MOTM awards in 3 games, while Cristiano scored 1 goal (in the final group game, when they were already out) and provided 1 assist, getting 1 MOTM award.

Messi took his team to the final with some wonderful knockout phase performances, getting a last-gasp assist in the 117th minute vs Switzerland and another MOTM award on the way and was justifiably named the player of the tournament, despite losing to Germany in the final.

Much like at the WC, Messi was chosen as the MVP of the 2015 edition of the Copa América in Chile, but, again, it wouldn’t come without complaints from the Ronaldo faithful.
“Messi only scored once”, yes, and provided 3 assists, got 3 MOTM awards, lead his team to the final and then scored the only goal for his team in the shootout.

Looking back at Copa América 2016, Messi got 5 goals and 4 assists in 5 games (2 of which he started on the bench), giving him a direct goal involvement (dgi) every 41 minutes, compared to Cristiano’s dgi every 126 minutes in the EUROs, which his team won with him watching from the bench in the final.
Messi also scored a 19-minute hat-trick as a substitute and surpassed Gabriel Batistuta as the top scorer for La Albiceleste with a Puskás nominated goal in the semi-final. As amazing as these trivialities sound, you still won’t have an idea of how good he was that Summer until you sit yourself down and watch the 374 minutes of playtime he blessed us with in this tournament. Copa Centenario saw the finest version of Leo Messi.

In the World Cup Qualifiers for Russia 2018, Argentina were struggling and Messi was the scapegoat. But let’s see the stats:

ARGENTINA WITHOUT MESSI – 1W, 4D, 3L, (12% Wins, 37% Defeats);
ARGENTINA WITH MESSI – 6W, 3D, 1L, (60% Wins, 10% Defeats).

No coincidence. Messi scored in big games such as: Uruguay (1-0), Chile (1-0), Colombia (+2 assists) (3-0) and as we all know, single-handedly beat Ecuador with a hat-trick to secure the World Cup qualification for his country when it was do or die.

Admittedly, the 2018 Mundial was a mess for Argentina, while Ronaldo got off to a flying start with a hat-trick against Spain in Portugal’s opener. However, both Messi and Ronaldo were knocked out in the round of 16, in which Leo provided 2 assists against France, while his rival was anonymous against Uruguay. It’s also worth noting that Messi’s only goal in this World Cup was one from the highest drawer of football class. A beautiful ball from Banega and a heavenly touch by Messi, followed by a fine finish and a Puskás nomination.

CRISTIANO IS THE MORE COMPLETE PLAYER

This one is usually elaborated as such: ”Cristiano can score with both feet, as well as his head. He can also trouble the keeper from up close, afar, you name it“.

While it’s true that Cristiano’s weak foot and head prove more useful compared to Messi’s when it comes to scoring, this doesn’t, by any means, make him a more complete player.

As aforementioned, Cristiano is known as one of the best shooters in world football, with shots lethal from any distance, while Messi’s shots are far less difficult to deal with, especially from long range. Or so they say. It’s true that Ronaldo can accumulate more power in his shots than Messi, but what’s power without accuracy?

Firstly, here are their goals from outside the box, including free kicks:

GOALS FROM OUTSIDE THE BOX:
Messi – 124 (17.8%);
Ronaldo – 102 (14%).

And here are their conversion rates since Ronaldo’s move to Spain.

TOTAL CONVERSION RATE:
Messi – 22.8%;
Cristiano – 14.4%.

CONVERSION RATE FROM OUTSIDE OF THE BOX:
Messi – 10.1%;
Cristiano – 4.4%.

It’s also common belief that Cristiano is the most decisive player in all of football, a personification of the word ‘clutch’. He works best under pressure, when his team needs him the most… hm.

CONVERSION RATE WHEN THEIR TEAM IS WINNING:
Messi – 23.2%;
Cristiano – 24.5%.

CONVERSION RATE WHEN THEIR TEAM IS DRAWING/LOSING:
Messi – 22.4%;
Cristiano – 4.3%.

As you can see, Messi’s conversion rate drops almost unnoticeably when his team is chasing the score, while Ronaldo’s difference is drastic and almost shocking.

And how about GOALS AND ASSISTS IN FINALS?
Messi – 29 + 14 in 34 (1.26);
Cristiano – 19 + 2 in 29 (0.72).

Finally, let’s see how they deal with the pressure of a spot-kick in shootouts:

GOALS IN SHOOTOUTS:
Messi – 4 (1 Miss | Copa America 2016 Final), (80%);
Cristiano – 6 (2 Misses | 2008 UCL Final, 2012 UCL Semi-Final), (75%).

Not only does Messi have a better goal and assist ratio, better shot conversion rates and more goals in finals, he also joins the conversation of the greatest dribblers, passers and playmakers the game has ever seen. To back this statement up, here’s a few facts: Messi holds the record for most dribbles completed in a La Liga match (15 vs Real Betis in 2007) and in a Champions League match (16 vs Man Utd in 2008). He’s also won the IFFHS Best Playmaker Award a joint-record 4 times, tied with none other than Xavi Hernández.

A better team player with better vision, more consistent and, without a doubt, the most entertaining player on planet earth… and wider. A sight for sore eyes, while in contrast you can see most of Ronaldo’s work by simply opening the livescore app.

CRISTIANO RONALDO IS THE KING OF THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

cristiano ronaldo ucl king?

Cristiano Ronaldo is widely renowned as the outright king of the UCL as a quintuple title holder and a record breaker in many categories. Let’s see.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GOALS:
Messi – 114 in 141 (0.81);
Cristiano – 128 in 169 (0.76).

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ASSISTS:
Messi – 34 in 141 (0.241);
Cristiano – 40 in 169 (0.236).

TOTAL:
Messi – 147 in 141 (1.04);
Cristiano – 170 in 169 (1.005).

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE HAT-TRICKS:
Messi – 8 (4 goals vs Arsenal, 5 goals vs Leverkusen);
Cristiano – 8 (4 goals vs Malmö).

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TITLES:
Messi – 4;
Cristiano – 5.

MOST GOALS IN A SINGLE SEASON:
Messi – 14;
Cristiano – 17.

Cristiano holds the record for goals, assists, goals in a season and number of top scorer awards. Messi comes second in all of these categories with 28 less appearances. He’s also tied for the record for most goals scored in a single game, 5, which he put past Bayer Leverkusen in the Round of 16 back in the 2011/2012 season. The only other player who can boast about this achievement is Luiz Adriano, who did so in the group stage of 2014 against BATE Borisov.

Cristiano has 10 goals against Juventus, 9 against Bayern, 7 against Dortmund, 7 against Atleti and so on. These numbers are insane, they’re mind boggling, no one’s denying it. But goals aren’t everything, nor has Messi been poor with his numbers.
9 goals against Arsenal, 8 against Milan, 6 against City, 4 against Bayern, Paris and United, etc.

Now, let’s divide their goals into two simple categories:

GROUP STAGE GOALS:
Messi – 68 in 72 (0.94);
Cristiano – 63 in 89 (0.7).

KNOCKOUT PHASE GOALS:
Messi – 46 in 69 (0.67);
Cristiano – 65 in 80 (0.81).

The further the competition progresses, the better Ronaldo’s numbers are compared to Messi’s, but they don’t tell the full story. Some of La Pulga’s finest UCL performances ended without a goal, as he’s not the kind of player that relies solely on stats. In big games, Messi tends to adopt a much deeper role, opening doors to more ways he could improve his team’s play, widening his influence to two thirds of the field instead of just one and attracting the opposition further away from their goal, which, obviously, leaves loads of open space for his teammates to make use of. This is just one of the many examples of Messi putting the team’s needs above his own ego and desire for individual accolades, dismissing the misconception that he’s a bad leader, a bad captain.

Here are a few games to look at as an example of what Messi can do without scoring a goal: Manchester City 2014/15 RO16 (H&A), Chelsea 2005/06 RO16 (A), Real Madrid 2010/11 SF (H), Bayern 2014/15 SF (A), Juventus 2014/15 Final, Manchester United 2007/08 SF (A), Arsenal 2010/11 RO16 (A), the list goes on.

Lastly, their head to head score. We’ve already seen the overall numbers, now let’s narrow it down to just UCL clashes:

HEAD TO HEAD:

5 Games.

WINS:
Messi – 3;
Ronaldo – 1.

GOALS:
Messi – 3;
Ronaldo – 0.

Their first ever meeting came in the Semi-Finals of 2008. Cristiano’s Manchester United came out on top. But Messi was far better than the Portuguese in the tie. Messi’s highlight was setting the all-time record for most dribbles completed in a Champions League match with 16 in a jaw-dropping performance at Old Trafford, while Cristiano’s only notable action was a penalty miss in the opening minutes of the first leg.

Next year, they met a step further. In the Final of 2009, Ronaldo watched on as Messi made a leap to steal the show, clinch the title for his team and wrap up a treble-winning season in style.

Finally, in the 2011 Semi-Finals, Ronaldo was anonymous while Messi scored two goals, including one of the greatest goals in the history of the Champions League. Away from two, three, four, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, how good is he?

RONALDO HAS MORE INDIVIDUAL AWARDS

Simply put, no.

BALLON D’OR:
Messi – 6 (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019);
Cristiano – 5 (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017).

FIFA WORLD PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Messi – 1 (2009);
Cristiano – 1 (2008).

UEFA BEST PLAYER IN EUROPE:
Messi – 2 (2011, 2015);
Cristiano – 3 (2014, 2016, 2017).

FIFA THE BEST:
Messi – 1 (2019);
Cristiano – 2 (2016, 2017).

FIFA WORLD CUP GOLDEN BALL:
Messi – 1 (2014);
Cristiano – 0.

NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE SEASON:
Messi – 9 (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019);
Cristiano – 4 (2007, 2008, 2014, 2019).

GOLDEN BOOT:
Messi – 6 (2010, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019);
Cristiano – 4 (2008, 2011, 2014, 2015).

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GOLDEN BOOT:
Messi – 6 (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015*, 2019);
Cristiano – 7 (2008, 2013, 2014, 2015*, 2016, 2017, 2018).
 *Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar tied at 10 goals.

NATIONAL LEAGUE TOP SCORER:
Messi – 6 (2010, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019);
Cristiano – 4  (2008, 2011, 2014, 2015).

GOLDEN BOY:
Messi – (2005);
Cristiano – 0.

FIFA PUSKÁS AWARD:
Messi – 0;
Cristiano – (2009).

OTHER:

Messi –  68 (12x ARG POTY, 9x La Liga Best Forward, 7x Trofeo Alfredo Di Stéfano, 5x World Soccer Best Player, 4x Onze D’or, 4x IFFHS World’s Best Playmaker, 4x IFFHS World’s Best Top Division Goalscorer, 3x FIFPro Young POTY, 3x UEFA.COM GOTS, 2x Best Forward in Europe, 2x UEFA Club Forward OTY, 2x FIFA CWC Golden Ball, 2x IFFHS Best Top Scorer, 1x Copa America MVP, 1x FIFA U20 World Cup Golden Ball, 1x FIFA U20 World Cup Golden Boot, 1x Copa América Best Young Player, 1x UEFA Club Footballer OTY, 1x UCL GOTS, 1x Olimpia de Oro, 1x Bravo Award, 1x Laureus World Sportsman OTY Award);

Cristiano – 51 (10x POR Athlete Abroad, 5x IFHHS World’s Best Top Scorer, 5x World Soccer Best Player, 4x Trofeo Alfredo Di Stéfano, 4x PFA POR POTY, 3x UEFA Best Forward in Europe, 2x Onze D’or, 2x FIFPro Special Young POTY, 2x PFA Players’ POTY, 2x FWA POTY, 1x FIFA CWC Golden Ball, 2x World’s Best Top Division Goalscorer, 1x FIFPro World POTY, 1x UEFA Club Footballer OTY, 1x UEFA Club Forward OTY, 1x La Liga Best Forward, 1x PFA Young POTY, 1x Bravo Award, 1x UEFA Nations League Finals Top Scorer, 1x BBC Overseas Sports Personality OTY, 1x UEFA.COM GOTS).

(Silver/Bronze Balls/Boots not included).

TOTAL:
Messi – 107;
Cristiano – 82.

No words needed. Therefore, let’s move on straight to collective honors while we’re at it.

NATIONAL LEAGUES:
Messi – 10 (La Liga 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019);
Cristiano – 6 (3x Premier League 2007, 2008, 2009 | 2x La Liga 2012, 2017 | 1x Serie A 2019).

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE:
Messi – 4 (2006, 2009, 2011, 2015);
Cristiano – 5 (2008, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018).

NATIONAL CUPS:
Messi – 6 (Copa del Rey 2009, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018);
Cristiano – 5 (2x Copa del Rey 2011, 2014 | 2x EFL Cup 2006, 2009 | 1x FA Cup 2004).

UEFA SUPER CUP:
Messi – 3 (2009, 2011, 2015);
Cristiano – 3 (2014, 2016, 2017).

NATIONAL SUPERCUPS:
Messi – 8 (Supercopa de España 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2018);
Cristiano – 6 (2x Community Shield 2007, 2008 | 2x Supercopa de España 2012, 2017 | 1x Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira 2002 | 1x Supercoppa Italiana 2019).

CLUB WORLD CUP:
Messi – 3 (2009, 2011, 2015);
Cristiano – 4 (2008, 2014, 2016, 2017).

INTERNATIONAL:
Messi – 0* | *FIFA U20 World Cup 2005, Olympic Gold Medal 2008;
Cristiano – 2 (EURO 2016, UEFA Nations League 2019).

TOTAL:
Messi – 34;
Cristiano – 31.

Messi’s 34 titles include a record two trebles (2009, 2015), as well as a sextuple (2009).

Lots of people fail to realize or to admit that some of Cristiano’s numbers are higher than Messi’s mainly because of the age difference. But taking a deeper look into the stats, the story becomes clearer. Statistics are the only thing keeping Ronaldo alive in this debate and it’s easy to see that most of the numbers aren’t even on his side.  However, even if they were, even if every single stat comparison went Ronaldo’s way, he’d still be in Messi’s shadow for those who watch what goes on during game time on the pitch. A magician, an alien, a lifesaver. The greatest ever, El Puto Amo.


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