Ronaldo and Messi are the best two players in the world. Try and persuade us otherwise.
Over the last 10 years, the mercurial duo have bulldozed through every record imaginable and will go down in history not as two of the greatest footballers but two of the greatest sportspeople.
Legends like Pele, Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff all dominated their own eras of the ‘beautiful game’ but what makes the current epoch so special is that two greats are playing side by side.
As a result, the Messi-Ronaldo debate is by far the most divisive in the sport, with both sets of supporters feeling incredibly strongly about the greatest-of-all-time (GOAT) debate.
Many will cite Ronaldo as the most complete footballer, believing he has superiority for his prowess in a wide range of attributes and for being the ‘greatest goalscorer in history.’
RONALDO VS MESSI DEBATE
Meanwhile, the argument for Messi tends to revolve around the beauty of his performances and his knack of producing incredible feats in remarkable fashion.
For many years, comparing the two was quite simple with both players residing in La Liga but the lines have somewhat blurred now that Ronaldo has swapped Real Madrid for Juventus.
That doesn’t eradicate every form of comparison, though, and while nothing will ever settle the debate, statistics is the one area where a ‘winner’ between Ronaldo and Messi can be chosen.
Enter Whoscored.com. The statistical aggregator is an absolute gold mine for data and allows users to compare individual footballers in areas that many fans didn’t even know were recorded.
So, what happens when you type Ronaldo and Messi into the search engine?
Collecting data from this season, it allows football fans to decide a superior figure across four categories: summary, defensive, offensive and passing.
All that considered, here is what happens when you compare Messi and Ronaldo in all these areas over four months into the 2018-19 season.
Messi wins in this category, no question. The Barcelona man has scored more goals, provided a greater number of assists, has more Man of the Match awards, boasts a better disciplinary record and has done that all in fewer games than Ronaldo.
Ronaldo only comes out on top in pass success rate and aerial duels won. We’re not sure averaging more shots per game is a positive, especially when it isn’t translating to more goals.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is a victory for Ronaldo. The 33-year-old produces more interceptions, clearances, blocks and is dribbled past on fewer occasions than Messi.
The only downside to those statistics are the fact it means Ronaldo commits more fouls on average and unexpectedly, Messi actually comes out on top in the tackling department.
Here’s probably the round you would expect to be the closest, but it’s actually a convincing win for Messi. Alongside his superior goal and assist totals, Messi tops the podium when it comes to key passes, number of dribbles and the amount of fouls won per game.
On the other hand, Ronaldo leads in some rather undesired categories with the Portuguese being dispossessed on a more regular basis and averaging more poor touches.
It’s become rather vogue to name Messi the best passer in world football and, well, the statistics certainly support that claim. Assists, key passes, through balls, long balls and total passes are all categories that see Ronaldo settling for a silver medal.
The Juventus man will have to console himself with the fact he delivers more crosses per game and, in fairness, does have the higher pass success rate.
So, as far as the statistics are concerned, we make that a comfortable 3-1 win for Messi this season.
Who do you think is the greatest player of all time? Have your say in the comments section below.