Last night saw yet another epic El Classico where Lionel Messi and Cristano Ronaldo continued their ongoing battle for World supremacy. Barcelona and Real Madrid played out a spectacular 2-2 draw with Ronaldo and his arch nemesis Messi scoring all of the goals. These two players are taking the art of a footballer to whole new levels, but whilst there is no denying that they are the stand-out talents of their generation, and perhaps of all-time, the ongoing question is ‘who of the two is the greatest?’
Whilst there is no definitive correct answer to this, the widely held view over recent years has been that Messi is the King and Ronaldo the very talented Prince. However, the gap between the magical Argentinean and the Portuguese adonis appears to be closing, with some feeling that Ronaldo now deserves the crown of ‘World’s Best Player’.
Despite often playing just behind the main striker, Messi seems to be able to score from anywhere and everywhere. Last season, at the age of only 24, he became Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer. In addition to that he also broke the 39 year old record which was set my German super striker Gerd Muller for most goals in a single European season.
Amazingly, Ronaldo has managed a similar record to Messi and their overall ‘goals to games’ ratio since 2009 is almost identical. Despite starting his career as a winger, Ronaldo’s ‘eye for goal’ became apparent under Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. His trademark ‘dipping’ free-kicks and solo goals prompted Real Madrid to break the World transfer record to bring the Old Trafford hero to the Bernabeu. Just as Messi can often be found collecting the ball in his own half, Ronaldo often drifts back in search of possession, and is also found in wide positions tormenting the opposing left and right backs. Given the fact that neither player is what is referred to as a ‘goal poacher’ makes their records even more unbelievable.
With regard to awards, both team based and personal, Messi is the clear winner at present. He has won the Ballon d’Or three years running (much to the obvious dismay of Ronaldo!), and his La Liga and Champions League silverware outweigh Ronaldo’s.
In conclusion it is evident that both Lionel Messi and Cristano Ronaldo are head and shoulders above any other current players in World football and there are no signs of this changing any time soon. Given their relatively young ages there is every possibility that they will go down as the two greatest players in the history of the sport. For all the achievements of Pele, Maradona, Eusebio etc, there is already a case to be made that Messi and Ronaldo have matched and surpassed them all. The fact that two such players are present in the same era, playing in the same league and at almost the same ages makes the comparison slightly easier, so here goes…
Lionel Messi is currently the ‘World Greatest Footballer’ with Cristano Ronaldo an extremely close second. The fact that Lionel Messi has been officially awarded this title three years running with the Ballon d’Or adds weight to the argument. That along with minor points such as his superior assists record, the fact that he has consistently made more appearances than Ronaldo and that his all-round team-play is slightly better just edges it for the Argentinean genius at present. In Ronaldo’s defence he is the faster / stronger physical specimen, has better heading ability and does not have a Xavi or Iniesta to link up with, but this just doesn’t quite level it – for now!!!