The two most compared athletes on the plant for the past six or seven years have been Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid & Portugal). But it’s all a matter of the media inventing a rivalry that doesn’t exist.
In an interview with Shortlist magazine following the completion of the treble with Barcelona and heading into the Copa America with Argentina, one of the questions Messi was asked had to do with the so-called rivalry with Ronaldo. Messi doesn’t see it as a rivalry.
There is no rivalry. It’s something the media invented. We both want to do well for our clubs, it is not Messi vs Ronaldo, it never has been.
But even if there’s no hatred, envy or animosity between the two, it’s impossible to not to compare these two players, who seem to be a cut above the rest of the footballing world in terms of consistency and excellence for so long. The moment Ronaldo joined Real Madrid and made his clashed with Messi something that happens at least twice a year and made it easier to compare their statistics, there was no escaping the constant writing and talking about who is better.
Messi is the more accomplished player and will probably go down as the better one, not just because of the numbers which are pretty similar but because of the eye test, being easier to digest for neutral fans and for winning more titles that the two teams compete for each season. But it’s never been about the rivalry between the two and trying to best each other. It’s always been about the Barcelona and Real Madrid thing, which helped amplify this clash of giants and turn it into something it’s not.