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Lionel Messi shows why Cristiano Ronaldo is stronger than him

Lionel Messi's decision to quit the Argentina team might reinforces the one area where he is inferior to Cristiano Ronaldo.

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi retired from international football after the Copa America final

Football might be a team sport, but there are some players who define the game. The magnitude of their stature is such that the whole fraternity shakes with their thunder. Some players are perhaps the game itself.

Right now, only two players exude such power: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. And why not? For the last 8 years, the Ballon d’Or hasn’t found a place in anyone else’s hand apart from these two.

Therefore, it is only natural for the limelight to always remain on them. It has come to a point now that these two can’t even burp without the media making a report out of it.

Despite being two very different players, they have a lot of things in common. And one of the most painfully obvious similarities is their lack of silverware on the international front. The two have amassed numerous trophies at club level but have always fallen short when representing their respective countries.

On this front, however, Messi is slightly more fortunate because most of his Argentina team-mates are world class players in their positions. In addition to Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria, even their once-weak defense now has formidable players like Nicolas Otamendi and Funes Mori.

It is for this reason that the South American country has done well in the last three tournaments they have been in, playing the final in each of them.

Portugal have no one to rely on

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is the one player that Portugal have relied on for years

The team-mates of Cristiano Ronaldo at Portugal, on the other hand, are a far cry to what the Blaugrana star has with the national team. Without degrading the Portugal team any further, one can conclude that the Albiceleste are a lot stronger than the Iberian unit.

The performances of Portugal at major tournaments are all about one man trying his utmost to drag a team all by himself – and falling short, always.

The criticism flows in. After all, if you are Cristiano Ronaldo, you will be loathed for scoring ‘easy’ goals. The famous ‘Cristiano scores from only penalties and tap-ins’ argument is a clear testament to that fact.

In general, the former Manchester United winger is labeled as a flop in the international scene. Every chance that he misses, every penalty that miscues, falls under the microscope and is criticized with fervour.

Prior to the World Cup 2014, La Pulga also faced similar criticism for his displays with Argentina. However, after starring in three consecutive tournaments by helping his team to the final, the criticism has turned into sympathy – and that got further amplified when he missed his shot during the shoot-out and retired from internationals after the game.

His decision stunned many, but once we look beyond the veneer of sadness that his face oozed, we can’t help but think that this is his weakest decision yet.

Granted, losing three finals in a row has got to hurt, especially when you are one of the causes of it. The weight of the world seems to crush you, a million needles pinch your heart—you just feel like going to sleep and waking up without even a fragment of a memory of what happened.

A decision taken in the heat of the moment

In the heat of the moment, Messi decided to call it quits. It is a decision he will almost certainly reverse. However, the impulsive act shows his inferiority to Cristiano Ronaldo in this regard.

There is nothing the Portuguese can do and not earn criticism for. When he scores a penalty, he is labeled as ‘Penaldo’. When he scores a goal from a few yards out, he is someone who can only score from tap-ins. When he misses a penalty, he is a worthless piece of flesh. Basically, rephrasing a quote from Lyndon B. Johnson, if Cristiano Ronaldo walked on water, most people would claim that it is because he can’t swim.

And yet, he carries on.

As Portugal take on Poland in the quarter-final of the tournament, they have a good chance of making it to the next round. If, however, they lose, it will be Ronaldo who will be scathed with negative reviews.

This is one aspect where Messi benefits hugely. When Argentina lose, his team-mates are blamed for not supporting him like his Barca counterparts do. However, the same argument is never made when it comes to Ronaldo.

If Portugal don’t win and Ronaldo gets the blame for it, he wouldn’t go out and retire even if the heat of the moment becomes volcanic. That's because he knows that he still has a good 2-3 years of optimum level of football left in him, and he will use that to fight and win something with his country. 

And this is why he is better than Messi when it comes to absorbing grief. One can only wonder if the Argentine would even play international football had he been born as a Portuguese and played for Portugal instead.

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