Fans of Ronaldo will claim that his frankly ridiculous goalscoring stats, and the trophy haul that goes with them, is proof that he is the owner of the crown. They will further point to his hattrick against Spain in the World Cup on Thursday as further proof of his greatness. Those strikes took him to 84 for his country and 45 this season alone, while simultaneously making him the oldest player to score a hattrick at a World Cup. Another record to add to the plethora he already claims ownership of.
Fans of Messi, though, will tell you that his outrageous goalscoring stats, and the trophy haul that goes with them, is proof that he is the owner of the crown. He has 100 Champions League goals himself and leads Ronaldo by 72 goals when it comes to La Liga’s all-time goalscorers list.
Ronaldo: 5x UEFA Champions League; 5x Ballon d’Or; 3x Premier League; 3x FIFA Club World Cup; x2 La Liga; 2x UEFA Super Cup; 2x Copa del Rey; UEFA European Championship; FA Cup
Messi: 9x La Liga; 6x Copa del Rey; 5x Ballon d’Or; 4x UEFA Champions League; 3x UEFA Super Cup; 3x FIFA Club World Cup
For posterity’s sake, this season Ronaldo trails messi Messi in the goalscoring charts with 44 goals compared to 45 while he also lags the Argentinian’s 16 assists with a tally of eight.
It’s a different story in their career stats, however. Ronaldo leads the way in terms of goals, 571 compared to 552, but his tally of 200 assists is far behind Messi’s total of 241.
One thing we can agree on
Looking at the facts simply provides further arguments that either side of the debate can use to bolster their arguments.
One fact that both sets of fans will agree upon, however, is that there can be no picking and choosing on the matter of who is the greatest. You must pick one and stick with them and from that point forwards, and dislike everything about the other, blindly ignoring all the evidence that they, too, are great. You cannot appreciate both at the same time, whether you like it or not because that is simply against the rules.
Both will continue to baffle
It is time, though, for such silly notions to be tossed to one side and the football world to end the Messi vs Ronaldo debate once and for all because neither player is willing to make it an easy decision.
Messi is continuing to do things with a football that baffle players, experts and everyone else in between. His ability on a football pitch is something special; to say the least, and suggesting he is from another planet is not ridiculous in the slightest.
Indeed, after Ronaldo’s heroics against Spain, it would not be a surprise to anyone if he were to produce his own moment of magic when Argentina take on Croatia on Wednesday. That is how their rivalry has often worked. When one performs, the other steps up to keep the race alive.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, is continuing his transformation into the greatest goalscorer that football has ever seen. The last decade has seen him transition from the young, pacey winger full of tricks that terrified defenders at Manchester United to a man whose sole aim is to put the ball in the back of the net. It is an aim he often succeeds in and will continue to succeed in regardless of his advancing years. He is simply that good.
Two sides of the same coin
His ability has been one honed on the training pitches, through hard work and determination to be the best. Messi, on the other hands, is the kind of talent that is God-given. That is not to say his achievements have not taken hard work either, but he has not evolved as much as the Real Madrid man.
Indeed there is an argument that each player is simply one side of the same coin. They simply do the job of putting the ball in the back of the net albeit in a different manner.
On the one side you have the pure inspiration of Messi and on the other, you have the sheer willpower of Ronaldo. Each side is as great at the other and trying to define which is better is a pointless task.
Just enjoy the show
Rather than continuing the Messi vs Ronaldo debate, it is time football fans, pundits, analysts, and everyone in between simply sat back and enjoyed the show these two players continually provide.
They are once in a lifetime sportsmen providing the kind of entertainment that few others in football’s long and illustrious history have been able to offer up. When they are gone they will be sorely missed and miring oneself in needless and pointless debates about who is better is failing to appreciate them while we have them.
The focus should be on enjoying the privilege of seeing these two great players at the same moment in time rather than fighting and trading insults. The latter is not only foolish but takes away from the magic that these two geniuses often weave.