Can Messi and Ronaldo play in the same team?

Real Madrid CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga
Same team?
Samyak Bharthur

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

These two have become household names. It doesn't matter if you're a football fanatic or someone who rarely follows the game, Ronaldo and Messi are arguably the first two names that come to mind when you mention football.

Imagine the best of the best playing alongside each other in the same team. It goes without saying, the team would be boosted greatly in terms of quality and confidence, both on and off the pitch.

Obviously, we're talking about the two guys who have dominated world football like no other earlier. Having a combined 9 Ballons d'Ors awards between them, seeing a squad with both of them lining up next to each other is a distant dream. There's a higher chance of me making the Barcelona/Real Madrid line-up next week.

Let us try judging 3 cases of the two playing in the same team at different positions, their roles in the squad and what will work out best for them.

Case 1: Messi and Ronaldo as wingers

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - La Liga
Neymar must be missing this sight

In reality, both have played as wingers on opposite sides of the pitch at one point in their lives. Both the players tend to cut inside and create some space for themselves to have a go at goal, but there is always that occasional cross floating into the box as well.

How this works out will eventually depend upon the striker that will be playing in between them. If the forward is a tall, strong and athletic player who can bully defenders with his physique, then the wingers will have to resort to a little bit of crossing as their main strategy, since the target man can win them goals through headers.

However, if the forward is not very reliant on his strength and is all about skill, spotting runs and scoring with his feet, Messi and Ronaldo can unleash their dribbling and shooting mastery to create and convert a lot of chances.

Both make for great teams, but obviously, it is not the strongest and most tactically-dominating squad that can be built having the two greats in the line-up

Rating: 6/10 if the striker is relatively small and skill-oriented

6.5/10 for a large and strong striker

Case 2: Messi and Ronaldo as two strikers

Real Madrid v Barcelona - Supercopa
"Good ball Messi"

This makes for a very deadly combination. It will rain goals of all types

The Argentine will be the smaller striker, making quick runs in and around the final third, spotting the runs and setting up or squaring the ball to the larger, stronger striker which is Ronaldo.

The Real Madrid forward will destroy opponents with his height and strength. He will score with both his feet and his head, thereby tormenting defenders to hell and back.

Now that the Portuguese forward has been making his transition into an out-and-out striker, adapting to a team where he will be paired with another can be a little tough given his, dare I say it, selfishness in front of goal.

Rating: 8/10

This, however, will stretch and pan-out depending upon the play, and given Messi's tendency to drop a bit deeper, it will give rise to...

Case 3: Messi as a false-9 (CF) and Ronaldo as a striker

Barcelona v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League Semi Final
Once rivals, always rivals

Get ready for absolute domination.

Be it a third-tier English team or European juggernauts and heavyweights, they will all be destroyed and brushed aside like dust settled on window panes.

I don't need to explain why playing footballers in positions they prefer will bring out the best in them.

Given the atomic flea's extraordinary vision, dribbling and amazing passing skills, he can supply Ronaldo with the perfect opportunities in front of goal and combined with his deadly finishing, scoring 5 goals every match won't come as a surprise.

These positions make the best use of the two players' innate abilities and the setup will be a feast for football-watching eyes.

Rating: 10/10

Free Kicks

Real Madrid v Barcelona - Supercopa
This doesn't need a caption, does it?

Undisputedly, free-kicks come under Lionel Messi's management.

The diminutive Barca forward has time and again proved his abilities in dead ball situations. Goalkeepers and defenders tremble whenever Messi steps up to take a free kick in a dangerous area, often anointed the "Messi area", which is just around a couple feet outside the opponent box.

Messi has scored 11 goals from free kicks in the previous two seasons (16/17 and 15/16) compared to Ronaldo's 6 in the same time period.

This is not to undermine the former Manchester United man's free-kick strengths. We all do remember that one against Portsmouth, don't we? The Portuguese can still resort to having a go from long range; no one can match the way he knuckles it, at least not right now.

Free kicks: Lionel Messi


Real Madrid v Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final
Ronaldo tips Messi over penalties

Choosing one of out of these two for the penalty duties would've been a tough choice if you had asked me a few years ago.

Leo Messi has missed many-a-penalty in recent times, even in times of dire need like in the Copa America final against ex-teammate and friend Claudio Bravo.

Ronaldo has missed too, but it hasn't happened as frequently as the Argentine.

In the last two seasons (16/17 and 15/16), Messi has had a go at 18 penalties of which he has missed 5 (conversion rate 0.72)*, whereas Ronaldo tried his luck at 20 penalties, missing 5 (conversion rate 0.75).

This still is a tough choice. Although Ronaldo has an edge over Messi with a better conversion rate, it is only by a minuscule margin. Nobody want's another episode of "penaltygate", do we? (looking at you, Cavani and Neymar)

Penalties: Cristiano Ronaldo

*NOTE: One of Messi's 'misses' actually led to that Luis Suarez goal, when the kick-taker cleverly passed the ball for the Uruguayan to bang it into the back of the net. If this accounts for a goal, then Messi's conversion rate goes up to 0.77, higher than Ronaldo.


FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2014
Who's the best? "I am!"

Of course, it's going to be awesome. But it's impossible.

Having two stars like this on the same team won't pan out well in any direction for a club, be it financially or morally.

Buying them will cost a huge amount of money and it may deplete a club's financial resources. Even if they do manage to grab their signature, a lot of money will be shelled out as wages and this will be unsustainable.

The authority that they will exude will reduce the importance and the status of other players of the team and the limelight will be stuck on Messi and Ronaldo only, which will prove to be detrimental to the club. Other players and members will feel unsettled and unsatisfied.

Further, there will definitely be a lot of ego clashes between the duo and it will eventually lead to a lack of chemistry and understanding both on and off the pitch. All completely undesirable.

They may destroy teams for sure, but them in the same team? It'll destroy football instead.

How about we just be grateful to be living in an era when these two legends are playing, eh lads?

Edited by Shambhu Ajith


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