Ronaldo VS Messi: two of the worst players EVER? Maybe not.
Sincere request: Please READ the whole article before grilling me for the title. Thank you
Where do I begin on this? As I know beforehand, this is a very sensitive topic and a lot of people will be disagreeing with me when I’m done. But I just want to clear out that the views expressed here are the views of real people, who have emotions, and might be biased as such. All I am doing is accounting for their perspectives, and my own.
It all begins with the hectic schedule that I’ve been having in the near past. The last month had trips to Lucknow, Agra, Jaipur, Delhi, Mumbai and back to Kolkata, in itself. And I’ve been meeting quite a few new people on my journeys. Most of them, are middle-aged men and women with families, who don’t give much focus on football. So I’ve had to rely on my new phone for much gaming pleasure on the long train journeys from point A to point B. Yet, when I was travelling from Kolkata to Delhi, I was lucky enough to meet a few football fanatics. They were bit younger to me, a year or so, and there were seven of them, going to the capital for their admissions. Now, I don’t really start talking football to strangers out of the blue, but these guys were in a serious conversation regarding the Premiership and La Liga. It was more of an argument pertaining to the comparative superiority of either of the leagues, and me being the moth that I am to the light called football, couldn’t help but join in. Yet, as the conversation wore on, slowly but quite expectedly, the topic rolled on to a comparison of two of the best players that football have today- Who is better? Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo…?
Now, we can easily say that the world, or rather a huge chunk of the footballing world is divided into two by these two players. You either have fans of Messi or admirers of Ronaldo, no matter where you go. The funny thing is, almost every conversation or comparison slowly transforms into the weightage of these two players. Also, a peculiar kind of sentiment has been growing in football fans of late; and that means that if they support Ronaldo, they condemn Messi to be an useless piece of booger, and vice-versa. Suddenly, the conversation lost all sanity, and numbers, stats, failiures, along with countless other references started coming into dialog. It was almost as if they didn’t want to prove that their player was better, but that they wanted to show that the other was worse. The crowd was split 4-3 in Messi’s favor, and I became a spectator to this comparative discussion. Mentally noting down the points as to why these two modern-day superstars were actually the WORST footballers that the world had ever seen (In their opinion). It seemed like if one was the best, the opposite had to be bad, and there was no other way it would hold. I will list some noteworthy negative-points about both of them as stated by my compartment-mates:
CRISTIANO RONALDO (and why he’s not just a whiny boy playing a man’s game)
First, let me say that even though I support Man Utd, and have supported Cristiano Ronaldo while he was in Red, I was never a big fan of him. He was very effective as a player and great to the fans, but I just didn’t like him! YET, the points being made here were just so naive! Lets begin!
This started in expected fashion.
1. “Messi’s Barcelona beat Ronaldo’s team in the Champion’s league which meant that Messi was automatically a better player” : Erm… So what? Ozil’s team beat Argentina 4-0 in the World Cup. It was an utter humiliation! That doesn’t mean that Ozil is a better player than Messi, does it? No. Because players and their abilities aren’t supposed to be judged that way. Football is a team game. One-off games don’t decide which footballer is better than the other. These things make sense in nursery playgrounds, not in real life.
2. “Most of his Free kicks hit the wall and so, he’s not that good at taking ‘em” : Many of his free-kicks go in too. Is it just me, or has Ronaldo been the main free-kick taker in both Man Utd and Real Madrid? Being the preferred kick-taker in a team of superstars automatically means he’s pretty darn good. Add to that, the fact that he gets a good amount of goals from dead-balls each season. He must be doing something right, eh? The free kicks against the European XI and Porthsmouth came into mind as they blurted out this point. And I smiled to myself.
3. “He dives a lot. Also, he cries and whines” : Yes. He does. And that is one fact I could not disagree with- Ronaldo dives a hell lot. Now I wouldn’t go on to justify his acting and whining, but a lot of time, he just dives to avoid horrible tackles that the opponents dish out at him. That’s not wrong because he would rather take a dive than break a leg. But his moaning and whining irks me. Probably why didn’t like him at Utd either. Yet, none of it makes him a worse player. His footballing abilities are still intact, and even I would agree that if you took the whining out of him he’d become almost the perfect footballer. And his tears when he loses shows that he’s passionate about the game. No more, no less. Though it might make me chuckle sometimes, too.
4. “He only scores tap-ins and penalties and that’s why he gets more goals than Messi” : Well, scoring tap-ins is an art. Ask Inzaghi, ask Van Nistelroooy, even ask Michael Owen if you must (You can ask Klose too, but slip him into the German National team jersey before you do that). Any poacher would be proud of a tap in. It has a lot to do with a player’s positioning sense, and his ability to make well-timed runs which is a skill in football itself. So, it baffles me as to how someone can be criticized for having a good eye for goal. And the penalty taking bit. Well, again, he’s the best penalty taker in the team, so he gets them. Messi took quite a few penalties in the last season himself. Doesn’t mean he’s scoring cheap goals.
5. “He’s arrogant, snobbish, and self-centred” : Yeah, he is very self centred. He goes for goals mroe often than not, but that’s how he is, and that makes him the footballer he is. And lets face it, Cristiano is as effective on the field as Radiohead to the ears. And about being snobbish and arrogant, well, that comes with the fame and hate that he gets from all angles. But there are things about him you might not know. Like the story of him and a young boy, as told by Dan Gaspar (Read here in Goal.com) and his gesture last season, when he broke a fan’s nose in the stadium by mistake (Video here)
6. “He looks like a person who swings the other way” : This one made me chuckle right in front of the quarreling crowd. The reason for my chuckle was mixed; first, a picture of Ronaldo in a pink tee and hot pants flashed in my mind; and secondly, I couldn’t fathom how him being not-straight would make him a worse footballer. I mean, lets get this straight. Neil Patrick Harris is gay in real life, but that doesn’t make Barney any less awesome in HIMYM. Dumbledore turned out to be gay in the Harry Potter series. But he’s still one of the best wizards in the book. Fact is, even though Ronaldo is straight, a person’s sexual orientation changes very less about how good he is at his job. Lets not be narrow-minded as such.
Also included was how Ronaldo is overhyped by female fans who know less about the game and only like him for his looks. And how he will never be able to overtake Lionel, making him the worst of the lot. (I have no idea how that happens. Second best is the worst. Don’t look at me, they said it.)
So there you have it, why they think Cristiano is the worst player in the world, and why I think he’s not. You have every right to judge an of us right or wrong. I shall just move on.
LIONEL MESSI ( And why he’s more than an overprotected baby in Barcelona)
I am not much of a Lionel Messi fan either. I know many shall disagree with me on this, but I have a hard time believing that he- or Ronaldo- is the best player in the Spanish League, let alone the world (It’s Xavi for me). But again, the reasons for condemning him were a bit short-sighted. And they were:
1. “He’s never played in England, so he can’t be great” : Erm… Again, so what?! I know, we all love the English league, and it’s much more physical and defence-happy than the Spanish League, but that doesn’t mean that a player who hasn’t played in the Premiership is not good! Look at Zidane, Ronaldo Luis, Rivaldo and etcetera. They’ve never played in England, but that hardly means that they’re not greats. Messi might have problems coping up with the fast and physical English game, but it really doesn’t matter. You’re good as long as you play exceptionally well, no matter where you are. Same for Messi as long as he decides to stay in Spain.
2. “He rides on other’s pity. Not his footballing abilities” : Yes, there is a pity-love that people have for Messi because of his frail build as compared to other footballers. But to say that it’s the only reason the people like him, is well, saying that the only reason Indians like Tendulkar is because he is short too. Lionel rides tackles, not pity; and if you’ve watched enough of him, you’d know that. Yes, he goes down once-or twice but that’s nothing compared to the Busquets or Alves’ at the Nou Camp. He’s one of the non-diving players we have left in the game, and its wrong to say bring in pity to judge a footballer’s ability anyway.
3. “He can’t take free-kicks” : Ah he very well can! And If I’m not wrong, His strike rate is as good(if not better) as that of Cristiano Ronaldo. Yes, he might not be the best at it or a regular either, and often Barcelona prefer Alvez or Xavi taking free-kicks, but that doesn’t mean that Messi can’t. He’s scored a few from deal-ball situations, even in the past season like this goal against Deportivo. He’s got a phenomenal left foot, and can curl it either side, away from the keeper and into the net. So I found this point utterly baseless. I even star-marked it.
4. “He can’t perform for Argentina, unlike Maradona…” : Again, a widely accepted truth that can be denied. He might not be as prolific for the Albiceleste as he is for Barcelona, but that doesn’t mean he is a bucketload of nothing. The World Cup was a great show to that. I had watched all of Argentina’s matches religiously, because I wanted to see glimpses of Pastore and De Federico (only to later learn that De Federico wasn’t even in the squad. Sigh) and from what I saw, Messi was very unlucky not to score. Almost as lucky as Higuain was, to score. He was kept out by the post, the circumstances, and by Eneyama. But his performances were hardly below average. He was one of the livewires on the field, and did a lot for his national side. But, the public memory gets wiped off to easily when they aren’t subjected to cold hard numbers, and that’s what has happened. Not everyone is a Maradona- Messi needs time- but that doesn’t mean he’s crap, either.
5. “Messi can only perform for Barcelona with Xavi and Iniesta. he is nothing without them” : My biast towards Xavi almost made me agree to this point, but then, no. It is a fact that Messi has been his mesmerising best under Pep Guardiola. Under Rijkaard, he was silently brilliant, but never scored as many goals. In the national jersey, he has had some off games, but when he’s on song he becomes unstoppable. So it’s really not fair to say that. Yes, Xavi and Iniesta would bring out the best in any attacking line in the world with their vision and passing. Yet, how is Messi to blame for that? Even if they make all the chances, then Lionel puts them in the net. Scoring is an important part of football too, if I remember correctly.
6. “He puts up and angelic face, but is snobbish and hot-headed” : Well, again, that comes with the fame monster. You expect famous people to be a little snobbish, don’t you? Lots of incidents were thrown in here to prove his devilish attitude. The events included recent events like him booting the ball to a Blanco fan and not apologising ( Video here), and elbowing a Real Madrid player on his shins while asking for a foul. But these things tend to happen in the spur of the moment and don’t demean the players ability. About the angelic face bit, well that’s Barca for you. All of their players are portrayed as angels, and again it has very less to do with the magnitude of their footballing skills. In the end, most still view Messi as the innocent boy with the cute smile, and many CR7 followers don’t seem to like that. But, like it or not, theres one more thing that people love him for- he’s one heck of a footballer.
Those were the points being thrown to prove Lionel’s inferiority, and I couldn’t help but tackle them in my mind as they went on. I was still confused as to how him being over-pitied made him the worst player on the planet. I thought of intervening once or twice, but then thought that I should let the friends have their little quarrel among themselves. Friendly banter doesn’t hurt, and it doesn’t prove much too. You can agree or disagree with me here, that’s the beauty of perspective.
Anyway, the debate ended when the Pantry guy interrupted them for their Dinner orders. After that, the banter didn’t really take off in full flight. Everyone got back to their work, and I got back to reading Roal Dahl’s short stories (Phone had battery issues). The note was secure in my pocket, and a new idea for an article was in my mind. The seven friends had one little banter session post-dinner while going off to bed, where the same points were repeated in condensed form. Following that, everyone went to sleep. In their minds was the fact that their player was the best, and the opposite one, the worst that has ever set foot on a football.
If you ask me, I generally like neither. I’d agree that both are among the best of this current generation and that I have immense respect for them as footballer. But whenever I think of my favorite player, my mind goes back to the chirp of a little bird on the Devil’s wing. If you know what I mean (If you don’t, check here).