The most universal topic of debate in the contemporary football world is about who the better footballer is between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Sport thrives on rivalries, and it is this one between the spearheads of Barcelona and Real Madrid that has defined the last decade in footballing circles.Also read : Why Lionel Messi's salary is thoroughly well-earned and completely justifiedWhen the inevitable question was once posed to Ronaldo himself, he had said, “You cannot compare a Ferrari with a Porsche because it's a different engine. You cannot compare them. He does the best things for Barcelona, I do the best things for Madrid.”Whatever the man may say, we will make a comparison anyway. Messi exerts more influence on a match, playing more around the centre of the pitch than Ronaldo and bringing in more of his team-mates into attacks. Ronaldo is more comfortable taking solo runs on the wide sides, and he is much better as a finisher than the Argentine. Ronaldo is more athletic of the two and is visibly more professional about taking care of himself. Messi’s balance is second to none, but because of his small size he can be knocked off the ball by more imposing opponents. He, however, seldom executes touches that are cute but ineffectual, something Ronaldo is guilty of sometimes.But the above are all subjective comparisons. What do the numbers say?We have attempted a detailed comparison of the statistics that the two players have gathered over their careers. Statistics of course never tell the whole story, but this is as objective a judgement as any that can be passed upon the million-dollar question.Also read: Is Ronaldo gay? Relationship rumours squashedNote: Stats updated as of 23rd April 2017Messi Vs Ronaldo:
#1 Biographical details and career figures
Details/ PlayerLionel MessiCristiano RonaldoDate of birth24 June 19875 February 1985Height1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)Weight67 kg (148 lbs)84 kg (186 lbs)Matches693847Total Goals Scored556589Club Appearances576709Club Goals498518International Appearances117138International Goals5871
Also check out: Messi vs Ronaldo complete stats
#2 International record
The international debuts of the two stars, both at 18, were contrasting in nature. Both their careers have proved to be contrary to the kind of expectations the respective introductions would have incited.
Ronaldo’s first appearance in Portuguese colours was a 45-minute cameo in a 1-0 win over Kazakhstan, which passed without incident. Messi’s debut, on the other hand, lasted about two minutes. He was brought on in the second half in a match against Hungary, but was sent off prematurely for elbowing defender Vilmos Vanczak.
Messi had been widely criticized in Argentina for not being able to replicate his Barcelona form for his country, getting to the final of the World Cup and also the Copa America twice –which have been Messi’s greatest achivements with his country as of now. Ronaldo has been instrumental behind three Portuguese campaigns, getting till the semi-finals of World Cup 2006 and Euro 2012 and winning Euro 2016.
YearLionel Messi (Appearances and goals)Cristiano Ronaldo (Appearances and goals)2003 2 (0)2004 16 (7)20055 (0)11 (2)20067 (2)14 (6)200714 6)10 (5)20088 (2)8 (1) – Appointed Captain200910(3)7 (1)201010 (2)11 (3)201113 (4) - Appointed Captain8 (7)20129 (12)13 (5)20137 (6)9 (10)201414 (8)9 (5)20158 (4)5 (3)201611 (8)13 (13)
20171 (1)2 (3)
#3 Club record
The most gripping sub-plot to the classic El Classico rivalry since the 2009-10 season has been the Messi-Ronaldo rivalry. An analysis of their performances in the last five years in the La Liga and Champions League shows how their respective games have evolved, apart from providing figures for comparison between the two.
Many conclusions can be drawn from these numbers. For example, Ronaldo has consistently been a better crosser of the ball, but has also given away the ball to defenders far more consistently. Also, Messi’s defensive contribution has been a lot more than Ronaldo’s.
#4 Injury lay-offs
Both Messi and Ronaldo are now reaching that stage of their career when questions will be asked as to how long they can go on. On the face of it, Ronaldo looks more likely to have a longer career by virtue of his superior professional approach to building and maintaining his physique. How successfully the two can ward off injuries, and how quickly they can recover are vital signs by which their longevity will be measured.
Here is a record of the injuries each player has suffered since April 2013.
Thigh Muscle Strain (11 days)Knee Ligament Problem
Kidney Problem (3 days)Hamstring
Kidney Stone Surgery
Adductor Muscle Tear
TOTAL: 194 DaysRonaldoThigh Muscle Strain
Thigh Problems (14 days)Thigh Problems
Muscle Fibre Problem
Torn Collateral Ligament
TOTAL: 145 Days
It is testament to Ronaldo’s superior fitness that he has still managed to miss out on less matches. Messi’s recovery rate is decreasing, after not having missed a game due to injury related reasons till 2013.
#5 Team honours
Lionel MessiCristiano Ronaldo2003-04 FA Cup2004-05La Liga 2005-06Champions League, La Liga, Spanish Super CupLeague Cup2006-07Spanish Super CupPremier League2007-08Olympic GoldChampions League, Premier League, Community Shield2008-09Champions League, La Liga, Copa del ReyPremier League, League Cup, Club World Cup, Community Shield2009-10La Liga, Uefa Super Cup, Spanish Super Cup, Club World Cup 2010-11Champions League, La Liga, Spanish Super CupCopa del Rey2011-12Copa del Rey, Uefa Super Cup, Spanish Super Cup, Club World CupLa Liga2012-13La LigaSpanish Super Cup2013-14Spanish Super CupChampions League, Copa del Rey2014-15La Liga, Copa del Rey, Champions LeagueUefa Super Cup, Club World Cup2015-16La Liga, Uefa Super Cup, Club World Cup, Copa del ReyUefa Championship, Campions League, Euro 20162016-17Spanish Super CupUefa Super Cup, Club World CupTotal Trophies3022
Messi has four Champions League titles, all won with Barcelona. Ronaldo has won the Champions League once with Manchester United and twice with Real Madrid. Messi has eight La Liga titles, all again won with Barcelona. Ronaldo has won a country’s top domestic league a total of four times – thrice with Manchester United and once with Real Madrid.
Despite his glittering collection of domestic medals, Messi has failed to take his country to similar glory in major tournaments. That said, Messi was part of the promising generation of Argentine youngsters coming through during the first part of the last decade, and has an Olympic gold medal (2008) and a FIFA U-20 Champions medal (2005) to show.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo has finished once as runner-up (Euro 2004), once in third position at Euro 2012 and most recently, won Euro 2016 with Portugal.
#6 Individual honours
Lionel MessiCristiano Ronaldo2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 PFA Young Player of the Year2007-08 European Golden Shoe, Premier League Golden Boot, Champions League Top Scorer, Uefa Club Footballer of the Year2008-09 Ballon d’Or, Champions League Top Scorer2009-10Ballon d’Or, European Golden Shoe, La Liga Top ScorerChampions League Top Scorer2010-11Ballon d’Or, Uefa Best Player in Europe AwardEuropean Golden Shoe, La Liga Top Scorer, Champions League Top Scorer2011-12Ballon d’Or, European Golden Shoe, La Liga Top ScorerChampions League Top Scorer2012-13Ballon d’Or, European Golden Shoe, La Liga Top ScorerChampions League Top Scorer2013-14 Ballon d’Or, European Golden Shoe, Champions League Top Scorer, La Liga Top Scorer, Uefa Best Player in Europe Award2014-15World Cup Golden Ball, Champions League Top Scorer (tied), Uefa Best Player in Europe AwardBallon d’Or, European Golden Shoe, La Liga Top Scorer, Champions League Top Scorer (tied)2015-16Ballon d’OrUefa Best Player in Europe Award2016-17 Ballon d’Or
Messi has some individual records which had no precedent before he came along. He has won the most number of Ballon d’Or awards (5) and he also holds the Guinness World Record for scoring the most number of goals (91) in a calendar year.
Ronaldo would have held a lot of individual records had his time not unfortunately co-incided with that of the Argentine golden boy. He is, however, the only player to win the European Golden Shoe award with two different clubs and the only one to win it four times.
The second part of his career, at Real Madrid, has been vastly more successful, so much so that he is the fastest Real Madrid player to reach 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300 as well as 350 club goals in the club’s long history.
Lionel MessiCristiano RonaldoNet Worth$350 million$450 millionMajor SponsorsTurkish Airlines, Adidas, Gillette, EA, Pepsico, Samsung, WalkersFly Emirates, Tag Heuer, Herbalife, Toyota, Samsung, Nike, Konami, Armani, KFC, Coca-Cola, CastrolGame CoversPES 09, PES 10, PES 11, FIFA Street 12, FIFA 13, FIFA 14, FIFA 15, FIFA 16Heads Up With Cristiano, FIFA Street, PES 08, PES 12, PES 13DonationsLeo Messi Foundation (for vulnerable children), UNICEF, Youth academy and Childrens’ Hospital at Rosario2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Cancer hospital in Madeira, Schools in Gaza, Mangrove Care Forum in Indonesia, Aid Still Required, Cahonas Scotland, UNICEF, Save the Children, World Vision
#8 Fans (Social media and otherwise)
Lionel MessiCristiano RonaldoFacebook88.4 million120.6 millionTwitter1.19 million51.5 millionInstagram69.6 million98.8 millionNotable FansMaradona, Beckenbauer, Ronaldo Lima, LeBron JamesPele, Sir Alex Ferguson, Usain Bolt, Virat Kohli
Ronaldo and Messi are two sportspersons to have amassed more than 75 million followers on their respective Facebook pages, with Ronaldo going past 100m recently. Their following on social media platforms have seen a massive spurt in the last few years, thus proving how relevant the Messi-Ronaldo debate continues to be.
Many great sportsmen in their own right are often asked the burning question about who is better between the two. While most reply that they are players with different sets of skills and that to make the judgment would be unfair, some have stretched their neck and claimed that either one is ‘the best player in the world’.
As the statistics show, however, there is very little to separate the two. While Messi dominates in some areas, Ronaldo holds the upper hand in others. Depending upon what statistic you wish to consider as the most important, you can make your own conclusion based on these numbers!