Even without the league title or the Champions League trophy, Lionel Messi is still above the rest, above any other player in the world, including Cristiano Ronaldo. The fact that the Real Madrid forward won his first league title with Real Madrid or scored his first league goal at the Camp Nou, doesn’t change the simple fact that he’s second best when it comes to who’s number one.
If Ronaldo fans argued that he deserved to win the Ballon d’Or last season because he scored more league goals than Messi, despite losing to Messi and Barcelona in the foot race for the La Liga title and in the Champions League, this season has them in a conundrum.
Ronaldo set a new La Liga scoring record with 46 goals; Messi outdid him with an even better and hard to grasp 50. Ronaldo scored 10 goals in 10 champions league matches? Lionel Messi scored 14, topping the competitions scoring charts for a fourth straight season, on the way becoming the first player to score five goals in a UCL match.
In total? Ronaldo finished with a very impressive 60 goals, making it 146 for him in 144 matches for Real Madrid. Lionel Messi? He set a new record for most goals scored in a single season, ever, in the whole of Europe, currently with 72 goals. There’s still the final against Athletic Bilbao. Expect Messi to score. It’s the only title left for him and Barcelona this season.
Numbers aren’t a definitive way of measuring quality in the sport, but we’ll throw another one at you – Assists. We’ve already established that without Messi’s goals this would have been a very bad season for Barcelona. Don’t forget his assists. He had 15 in the league, 28 in all competitions. Directly involved with 100 of Barcelona’s goals. Cristiano Ronaldo has 12 in the league, 15 in all competitions. Great, but not out of this world like Messi.
But again, numbers fail to tell the whole story. Sometimes it comes down to a simpler fact or truth. Who would you rather have on your team? Who would your players rather have on the team? To me, and maybe because I’m biased, but maybe because it’s simply the truth, Lionel Messi is the choice each and every time.
Cristiano Ronaldo brings himself with all of his faults and perfections, and everything needs to revolve around him. He had moments of change this year, but a leopard can’t be a dog all of a sudden. He is what he is – Incredible player, but questionable at being a model citizen and human being on the pitch. I don’t think there’s plenty of doubt where Lionel Messi is in this debate.
Again, it’s a matter of taste, your school of thought in the sport and also which team you prefer. There’s no doubt Ronaldo is the perfect physical specimen when it comes to the sport. Tall, strong, fast with a powerful shot from both sides of the ball. A brilliant athlete. It’s EASY to explain and see why he’s so good.
Messi? Before we needlessly go into his childhood problems and growth hormones and all that. He doesn’t seem impressive. No muscles, no great leap. Speed, a ball that sticks to his feet. That’s it. But it’s enough for him. The mystery and difficulty of explaining why he’s so damn good is probably another reason why he’s considered so great.
It’s not about just possessing the perfect skills set. Cristiano Ronaldo may be more gifted, individually, than any other player who has stepped on a football pitch. But looking at the past few seasons, having that skill set doesn’t always matter. Being a better teammate has to fall into the equation of who’s better. For me, and for the rest of the world, there’s no argument about Messi being the greatest football of our times.