There doesn’t always have to be a winner. Not everything is American Sports, were draws and trying to reach for something that isn’t first place or victory just doesn’t exist. Lionel Messi might be better than Cristiano Ronaldo, but the better explanation in the eternal struggle and debate is that they’re just different.
If you’d pin me to a wall and ask me who is the better player; who has more individual talent, regardless of the setup he’s in, I’d have to go with Ronaldo. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a footballer who simply had everything (also off the pitch), at least not since the Brazilian Ronaldo, who I’m pretty convinced would have been regarded as the greatest footballer ever if it wasn’t for the injuries that took away nearly four years of his career.
There’s also something to be said of magic; the certain magic and allure of a player who has never fulfilled his potential. Ronaldo never won the Champions League; he finished with only one league title to his name, with Real Madrid. There’s something special about being great yet not all-that-you-can be, leaving imagination and fantasy forever in a debate with your name.
But not with Ronaldo, not with Messi. Cristiano Ronaldo was 22 when he won his first league title with Manchester United; he was 23 when he won the Champions League, ruled England with his scoring and ability and finished the season with the Balon d’Or. His career was hardly at its beginning, but he was already too accomplished, not just by being there, but by leading the way most of the time.
Lionel Messi? He wasn’t a big part of the Champions League trophy in 2006, but he was a Spanish and European champion before his 18th birthday. He won his fifth La Liga title and third Champions League trophy, scoring in two finals, by the time he was 23. Again, he wasn’t just someone who happened to be there. He made it happen.
But still, there’s something about Messi that remains hidden from our eyes and minds, which makes him more appealing. Cristiano Ronaldo has a PR problem because of his behavior, Super Model girlfriend. He looks special, destined for greatness. You can also easily identify why he’s so good – the speed, the power, the ability to shoot with both feet, the athleticism. Once again, the complete package.
With Messi, it’s more subtle, and sometimes hard to explain. Why is a tiny bloke who doesn’t look like the prototype to anything athletic so good? His balance and speed might be the only physical things that are remarkable about him, but great passing and creativity when attacking defenders is always attached to those nicknamed “genius”. Messi falls under the genius category. Cristiano Ronaldo? He’s simply a great player. And maybe that’s what keeps him behind in the public’s eye, or some of it at least. Until he shines in another Clasico, with two coming up in four days.