The Barcelona ace and the Real Madrid superstar have been locked in a fierce battle for supremacy for the past decade – and their numbers are stunning
Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? It is the debate that has dominated football for the past decade.
Luis Figo once mused, “It’s like choosing between white truffle and caviar.” And the former Barcelona and Real Madrid winger was right. It really is a question of taste because, as their respective records show, there is so little to choose between the two.
Their numbers are mind-blowing. Never before have we seen two men score with such consistency at the highest level for such a sustained period of time.
Not since 2010 has Ronaldo failed to rack up more than a half-century of goals for club and country over the course of a single campaign. Messi, meanwhile, has scored at least 40 goals a season since 2008.
In terms of their overall statistics, Ronaldo reached 600 goals with his brilliant double for Real Madrid in their Champions League final demolition of Juventus earlier this month and then added two more in Portugal’s win over Latvia.
Messi passed his own milestone this season by netting his 500th goal for Barcelona and the Argentine now has 578 in all competitions, including his strikes for the Blaugrana’s B team and its now defunct third team.
However, while Ronaldo has scored more goals (602 to 578), which is perhaps unsurprising given he is the elder of the two and started his professional career earlier, it is Messi who has netted more regularly (0.79 goals per game to 0.7).
Messi also has the edge in terms of assists, though it is perhaps not as one-sided as one would think, given how often the media likes to portray Ronaldo as a selfish forward.
The Portuguese has racked up 204 career assists (it is worth noting that stats from the ongoing Confederations Cup have not been included) to Messi’s haul of 237, underlining that both men are as adept at creating goals as they are at scoring them.
Indeed, rather than get bogged down in the sometimes bitter arguments over who is the superior player, perhaps we should all just be grateful that we live in the era of Messi and Ronaldo.
As Diego Forlan once said, “We are just lucky to be able to watch them at their best. Enjoy them while they last; they are special talents.”
The numbers certainly prove that!