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Big Data Study compares Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi; touts the Argentine as better between the two

21 Aug 2019, 20:57 IST

Argentina v Portugal - International Friendly
Argentina v Portugal - International Friendly

What's the story?

The University of Leuven, in collaboration with SciSports, a Dutch football data analysis company, has developed a program named Vauling Actions by estimating probabilities, which analyses the players' actions during the course of the game.

Using the aforementioned algorithm, the University has carried out a comparison between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to settle the debate sustaining for over a decade.

In case you missed it...

For the past ten years, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have dominated world football, winning countless trophies and individual honors. The superstar pair have managed over 1000 goals between themselves.

Messi and Ronaldo's rivalry was further enhanced due to their respective clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid, constantly prompting the opposing fans to gauge the duo's performances. During their period of dominance, the pair has won five Ballon d'Ors each.

Finally, Luka Modric ended the duopoly by winning the last year's Ballon d'Or. Still, the Ronaldo-Messi debate is a major talking point among many football followers across the globe.

The heart of the matter...

In order to compare Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi using the algorithm, an estimated average of 1600 actions per game is used to train the algorithm. The study analyzed all the available data on Ronaldo and Messi spanning between 2013-14 to 2017-18 of LaLiga campaign.

University professor Jesse Davids threw some light on the parameters used in the big data study. His quote (Sporza via AS) read as follows:

"Our model looks at each of those actions: passes, shots, dribbles... and then calculates its value."

After the study, the result showed that Messi had been more decisive, with the Argentine attaining a figure of 1.21, way more than his Portuguese counterpart's 0.61.


Tom Decroos, a participant in the study, pointed out that Ronaldo and Messi were close to each other until 2015 by saying:

"In the early seasons, Messi and Cristiano's scores were very even."
"It was not until 2015 when Messi moved ahead.

What's next?

Despite constant scrutiny, both players have been a healthy competition for each other, pushing each other to greater heights.

Cristiano Ronaldo, now with Juventus, starts his second Serie A season against Parma on August 24.

Meanwhile, Lionel Messi is working hard to regain full fitness ahead of Barcelona's second league match, facing Real Betis on August 25.

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