One of the longstanding debates in the soccer world is not about two teams, but rather about two exceptional players, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
These are two of the most gifted players to play the game today, and maybe ever. What makes it even more exciting is that they play for arguably two of the best teams in the world. Barcelona has dominated in recent seasons, stockpiling trophies domestically and in Europe. Real Madrid has not enjoyed as much success. Because of the dominance the men in Barcelona jersey have shown the past few seasons, there has been little for Madrid to win other than the Copa Del Rey last season. However, with Jose Mourinho at the helm, this team has definitely improved.
Even though Barcelona and Real Madrid are huge teams, Ronaldo and Messi are the two that steal headlines. Messi is only 5 foot 7 inches tall, but his impact on a game is huge. He has won three straight Ballon d’OR awards, which is an extremely impressive feat. He has also guided Barcelona to three straight La Liga titles as well as two Champions League titles in the past three seasons.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been equally impressive, but his team has failed to win significant silverware. This appears to be changing this season. Real Madrid currently has a six-point lead on Barcelona and is in the final four of the Champions League. This success has been, in large part, because of the sensational form Ronaldo has been in all season.
Both players are obviously huge to their teams and it is easy to prove if you look at their statistics over the past three seasons. Over the past three seasons, Ronaldo has scored 103 goals and added an additional 27 assists in La Liga. He has also scored 19 goals with 6 assists in the Champions League. Messi, on the other hand, has scored 101 goals with 38 assists in La Liga while scoring 34 goals and 7 assists in the Champions League. The man wearing the Messi jersey has obviously outperformed Ronaldo in the Champions League, but overall there numbers are fairly similar.
This brings up a question I have been asking myself for some time; why does Messi get so much more attention? Is it because Barcelona has won more silverware? Is it because Messi has a better reputation and seems more likeable than Ronaldo?
If you go purely off of statistical contributions, the players are almost identical in their production and they both have significantly helped their teams reach the point they are at currently. Both are also different types of players. Messi is a small player who weaves through defenders and plays in the quick passing system of Barcelona. Ronaldo is 6-foot-1 and has a wide array of ways he can score. He is good in the air, has a powerful shot that helps him be a threat from anywhere on the field, and is extremely quick.
Messi and Ronaldo are both incredible players on two great clubs. They have similar levels of production, wide variety of skills, and have a major influence on their clubs. However, with the media portrayal of both players, you would think Messi is on a completely different level than Ronaldo, and I do not see that to be the case. Ronaldo is finally in position to grab some significant silverware for the first time since joining Real Madrid. Maybe if he is finally able to win La Liga and the Champions League for Madrid, both players will be seen as equals in terms of greatness, which is how it should be.
Written By: Eric Stoyanov, Contributing Writer, soccerprose.com
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