Messi or Ronaldo who is the true GOAT in world football? Considered as the biggest conundrum in world football only comparable to the Diego Maradona vs Pele debate. The question up for debate here is who is better when comparing the Portuguese phenomenon and the Argentinian empyrean has conquered the mind of every single football fan everywhere for the past decade and will no doubt persist into the future.
Loyalties towards Clubs and their respective nations can often cloud judgment on the whole matter, while personality is often considered a key role in the perception of a player and is often a deciding factor for most when deciding who they would pick.
Without further ado let’s look at who is truly the greatest of all time? We are now going to have a look at how both players shape up head-to-head so you are fully armed with facts in the everlasting argument.
Cristiano Ronaldo leads the charts in this department with more club goals than Lionel Messi, but only just and this underlines with the fact that the Juventus and Portuguese superstar benefits having played two more seasons than his Argentinian enemy so far.
With both superstars netting over 630 goals throughout their illustrious careers so far, with 5 seasons from 2009-10 to 2014-15 proving golden and the beginning period of both geniuses pushing each other towards greater heights.
Though Ronaldo currently has more overall goals, Messi has the edge when it comes to the scoring department, with a higher goal’s in a season average (40) compared to Cristiano Ronaldo’s 35 having hit new heights with a world record 73 goals in the 2011-12 season.
Ronaldo’s highest goal season return was 61, a feat which he achieved during the 2014-15 season and has since then surpassed the 50 goal mark every single season for 6 years between 2010-11 to 2015-16.
On an interesting note, it is to be noted that whilst Ronaldo’s seasonal totals have somewhat declined in the recent years this includes failing to break the 30-goal mark in his first season at Juventus, Messi’s seasonal goals totals have remained consistent.
In terms of assists, Messi is far superior to Ronaldo and this contrast has become progressively severe as their respective roles have grown. This is on the basis that Messi other than scoring goals creates a lot of them also which is a big factor to take into consideration when determining which player is the GOAT and, although Ronaldo does chip in with his fair share of assists, the difference in this department is rather clear.
Champions League Stats
Ronaldo holds the record for being the all-time leading goalscorer in the champions league competition having excelled with Manchester United and Real Madrid in particular winning the tournament 5 times- 1 with Manchester United and 4 with Real Madrid.
However, Messi is not too far behind and actually possesses a fractionally better goal-per-game ratio, so there is every chance that he may overtake the Juventus man if he continues to shine in the competition.
World Cup Stats
When it comes to an international tournament such as the prestigious world cup, both Ronaldo and Messi have often been considered as underperformers and probably with good reason. The Portuguese superstar Ronaldo has scored more goals at the tournament in fewer appearances however, Messi is able to further claim going further in the tournament having reached the final with Argentina in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final’s held in Brazil. The Barcelona forward also won the Golden Ball during the tournament, despite actually missing out on the ultimate glory as Argentina narrowly lost in the final to eventual world cup winners Germany. The furthest that Ronaldo has reached in the world cup is the semi-finals in 2006 where they were beaten by eventual winners France before going onto lose the third-place play-off game to Germany.
When it comes to stats at international level both Ronaldo and Messi’s records are similar, even though Ronaldo possesses greater numbers, a large factor being that his senior Portugal international career kicked off two years before Messi begun his career with Argentina.
Ronaldo has already surpassed Ali Daei’s record of 109 goals in international football thus making him the top international goalscorer of all time.
In that respect Messi finds himself a long way behind Ronaldo, even though he alone remains Argentina’s top goalscorer of all time by some distance, surpassing the record held by fellow Argentine Forward Gabriel Batistuta some years ago.
In terms of titles won between both players, both Messi and Ronaldo have a very similar haul of trophies, but Messi edges it when it comes to league titles, having won La Liga 10 times with Barcelona. Ronaldo has 7 league titles, however unlike Messi he can make a claim to have won the league in three different countries (England, Spain and Italy)- this is something which increases his claim as the GOAT of all time.
Ronaldo holds the edge over Messi when it comes to Champions League titles, the Portuguese playmakers love affair with the competition earned him the nickname ‘Mr Champions League’. The former Manchester United player has also enjoyed distinguished success on the international stage, winning both the European Championship and the UEFA Nations League.
In stark contrast Messi, on the other hand has endured international heartache with Argentina, this including 4 unsuccessful Copa America campaigns of which in 3 campaigns saw then lose in the final. Though neither can claim to have won the world cup, Messi does hold an Olympic gold medal.
The individual battle which has taken place between Ronaldo and Messi has been described as the defining feature of modern football for over a decade and beyond.
During the stakes for football’s prestigious Ballon d’OR award Messi surpassed Ronaldo as he achieved his 6th in 2019 and it looks ever likely that he will remain ahead, with the postponement of the 2020 award due to the coronavirus pandemic, this means that the next opportunity for Ronaldo to have chance to win will come in 2021, by which point he will be 36 years of age.
Ronaldo however, does boast more of FIFA’S new ‘The Best’ awards alongside being crowned UEFA player of the year on more occasions, however, Messi has achieved more league player of the year honours. It must be stated that Ronaldo has won the Player of the Year award in 3 different countries (England, Italy and Spain).
Messi though, has had his hands on the European Golden Shoe for a record sixth time, which is two more than Ronaldo, and remains marginally ahead of his rival overall, however the fact that both have been included in the FIFPro World XI an astonishing 13 times just provides you with an image as to how closely fought the battle has been between these two world class players.
With both players now in their mid-30’s and playing in different leagues the number of frequent meetings between these two players is seriously in doubt. Whether it is the last time we see these two greats play against each other or not, it is a moment certainly to be savoured, as it has now become a privilege watching these two greats in action.
So, the serious question, who in your mind is the true GOAT of all-time Messi or Ronaldo?
13 Jan 2021