Messi and Ronaldo are undoubtedly and unarguably two of the greatest players to ever play the game of soccer. Over the past fifteen years their magnificence and dominance on the field of play has been nothing but a blessing to soccer fans and the world at large. Tales of their almost mythological greatness would be told to our children and our children’s children. That being said, the average non-football fan or fanatic would wonder why supporters of both players would rather spend time on Twitter and in bars pitching both players against each other and slandering one player to prove the other is better instead of simply revelling in the beauty, grace and unparalleled standard both players have brought to the game of soccer. While I agree that these comparisons, especially on Twitter can be done in a more mature manner that doesn’t result in either player being short-changed or ridiculed, it is important to note that soccer, like any sport is built on rivalries and an insatiable thirst for dominance and victory. Before I go any further, I must confess something, I am a Barcelona fan, but I solemnly promise that this article would be void of bias, trust me.
To be as objective as possible, I decided to base my conclusion on this debate majorly on numerical facts and barely on all other factors numbers crunching can’t accommodate. The question now, truly is, what makes one the greater soccer player of the two? The answer is simple but also comes in the form of a question, which is, which of the two players contribute more to all aspects of the game a footballer can possibly have influence on? At this juncture we shall split the aspects of the game into three: Defending, playmaking and goal scoring.
Now, it’s important to note that both players play a more attacking role in their respective teams, so there isn’t much information about their defensive abilities, probably the only information you’d find that puts a number to who might be better at defending would require you to go back to the 2016 world cup stats. At the world cup Messi was recorded to have. 1.3 successful tackles per game, 1.3 successful tackles per game more than Ronaldo, who obviously had 0. Those stats aren’t surprising, although an attacking player, Messi is known for taking it upon himself to fall deeper and committing to tackles if need be. Ronaldo on the other is simply an attacking machine.
A playmaker isn’t just someone who provides assists, he/she also controls the flow of the attacking play. Ronaldo is not exactly notable for playmaking either, he is a more than decent passer and crosser of the ball but his strongest claim to playmaking would be his assisting. Ronaldo has a total of 218 assists for club and country, which is very impressive being that he isn’t a midfielder. Messi on the other hand, since the departure of Xavi from Barcelona has cemented his position in the upper echelons of playmaking royalty. He contributes much more than just assists, his incredible technical ability to read the game ensures he gracefully controls the attacking flow of the game, but let’s focus on the numbers, Messi has a total of 270 assists for both club and country, 52 more than Ronaldo. The disparity in the number of assists is actually pretty impressive, being that Ronaldo has played a whopping 148 games more than Messi.
To close this debate we look at the goal scoring, The goal scoring Machine, Ronaldo, has scored a staggering total of 682 goals for both club and country. Messi on the other hand has scored a total of 659 goals for both club and country. But does this really make Ronaldo the better goal scorer? Let’s look at the numbers again. Messi has played a total of 805 games scoring 659 goals, Ronaldo has played 953 games scoring 689 goals, being that this is a test for who the better goal scorer is and not who the higher goal scorer is, we have to look at both players goal per game ratio. Ronaldo has a GPG ratio of 0.72 and Messi’s GPG ratio is 0.82. Messi also has a higher conversion rate being that he takes less shots than Ronaldo.
Before I give my final word on this, I understand that it will be foolhardy of me to think that an article with a few fancy words containing footballing facts and pearls of wisdom would change the mind of any die hard fan and put an end, finally, to this age old debate that has been the lifeblood of self professed soccer pundits for over a decade. But judging by the numbers it’s pretty clear who the better player is. Also, judging by the way Messi’s gorgeous left foot strokes and massages the football making it yield to his will, you can easily tell who the better player is.
In conclusion, the final word should not be mine, it should be yours. So I ask you, based on the numbers, who really is the better player? Give me your final word.
This article was written by Moyosore Adebiyi; connect with him on IG here