Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema

While last season may have been a more evident team effort from Real Madrid, this season it’s all about the scoring ability of Cristiano Ronaldo, showing his usual clinical finishing in Istanbul to send his team through into the Champions League semifinals for a third consecutive season, while proving a point about his goal scoring rivalry with Lionel Messi, showing he can be just as efficient.

Overall numbers this season, not even mentioning the previous one, goes to Messi. The Barcelona player has scored 43 league goals in 29 matches and 8 more in nine matches of Champions League football; in total, he has 57 goals in 45 matches. Cristiano Ronaldo has 29 from 29 in the La Liga, 11 from 10 in the Champions League and 48 goals in 47 matches overall. Since the beginning of the 2011-2012 season, he has scored 21 UCL goals, second only to Messi with 22. There’s a good chance he wins the competition’s top scorer award this season for the second time (previous one was in 2008) after four consecutive seasons of Messi triumphing in that category as well.

Sometimes it’s annoying how effortless he makes it look. Ronaldo, unless he’s being monitored for 90 minutes by someone up close and personal, like Manchester United did with Phil Jones in the first leg during the second half, will always find a way to become free at least three times in a match around or in the box. Out of those three chances he’ll create all by himself, there’s a very good chance he’ll score at least one goal.

While Messi wins the numbers game, at some point it seems like there’s not much of a difference. Scoring 40 goals or 50 goals doesn’t really seem to change what your team achieves – just look at Messi’s record breaking 2011-2012 season, with 50 La Liga goals, while Ronaldo scored “only” 44, breaking his own record from the previous season. Barcelona finished second and missed out on the Champions League final.

In the never ending argument, with no real answer from objective viewing, people always turn to numbers – title and individual awards, number of goals and head to head record. While Messi & Barcelona win the title count since Ronaldo arrived in Spain, the recent head to head matchups between the sides, and within them the performances of both players, tell us that there really isn’t much of a difference, and if there is, it changes from day to day, switching alliances each time.

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