We spent a big chunk of the season praising Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for what they’ve done individually and in the context of their rivalry, needless to say their teams. It’s only fitting that as it ended, we’ll celebrate their individual abilities and performances – Ronaldo with his 60 goals, Lionel Messi with his even more incredible 73 goals.
Despite not winning the league title with Barcelona this season, it’s impossible to say Messi came out as the loser from the two battling it out, be it a real rivalry or just something made up by the media in order to push more interest into the biggest rivalry in Spain.
Setting a new record for goals in Spain and in Europe for a single season while finishing ‘only’ second, reaching the Champions League Semi Final and winning the Copa Del Rey doesn’t take you back. Yes, he’s about team awards when it’s all said and done. They both are. But Messi took another step in cementing his legend and shocking everyone with just how good he is, just how important to Barcelona he really is.
For Ronaldo, it was more of last season, with a slight improvement, with a slight title-twist. Finally, a league title, under Jose Mourinho, with Real Madrid. Sometimes, it’s forgotten that Ronaldo already won everything possible with Manchester United prior to arriving in Spain. Short memories, people, you know. But Ronaldo has simply been a machine since wearing white.
This year was even better for him than in 2010-2011, setting a new record with 46 league goals (not enough to beat Messi’s 50 in the end) and finishing with 60 in all competition. Good enough for ninth on the all time list for most goals scored in a single European season. Most importantly, and that’s what many don’t realize about Ronaldo, is the league title, and the hunger for the Champions League that wasn’t satisfied once again.