The rivalry between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for over a decade is unprecedented in the history of the game. Never before have we seen two players be the best two of their generation by far. But between the two, Lionel Messi seems to have an advantage in all aspects which makes him arguably the better player. Or, surely as far as their club careers are concerned.
In terms of titles won in club career, Lionel Messi has won a total of 34 titles whereas Cristiano Ronaldo has won a total of 30. Taking into consideration the most important titles that are the national leagues and the Champions League, Messi has won the league 10 times (La Liga) whereas Ronaldo has won a total of 6 national league titles (3 Premier League, 2 La Liga and 1 Serie A). Concerning the Champions League, Messi has won a total of 4, while Ronaldo has won 5. The most important individual award in the world of football is the Ballon D’or, which rewards the best player of the year playing in a European club. Messi has won the Ballon d’or a total of 6 times, whereas Ronaldo has won only 5.
Focusing on their goals scored in their club career, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 626 goals in 836 games played (0.75 goal per game), whereas Lionel Messi has scored 627 goals in 718 games (0.87 goal per game). As far as assists are concerned, Ronaldo has made 219 assists in 836 games (0.26 assist per game), whereas Messi has made 261 assists in 718 games (0.36 assist per game). Thus, Ronaldo has been decisive offensively 845 times in 836 games (1.01 time per game), whereas Messi has been decisive 888 times in 718 games (1.24 time per game). What partly explains the Messi edge on Ronaldo, in terms of goals scored, is his superior efficiency on free-kicks. And as an assist maker, the Argentinian is clearly a better passing player with more accurate through balls than the Portuguese.
A difficulty often occurring when comparing two top class players is that they often don’t belong to the same era (like Pele and Maradona) or don’t play in the same league and therefore don’t take part in the same competitions. The advantage for the comparison between Ronaldo and Messi is that for 9 years (2009-2018) they took part in exactly the same national and continental competitions. Furthermore, each one of them was playing for one of the top 2 La Liga clubs and could count on the best players worldwide in each field position. In these 9 years, Messi achieved better results individually and with his team. The national league is probably the most reliable indicator as it is the result of a set of 38 games. In their 9 years playing in common in La Liga, Messi won the title 6 times, whereas Ronaldo won only 2. Ronaldo has an edge only in terms of Champions League wins: 4 vs 2. Concerning the La Liga Player of the Year during the same time period, Messi won it 7 times, but Ronaldo has never won it.
Messi has also the advantage of being a more multitasked player. Ronaldo can play only in 3 positions: left winger, right winger and center forward. Messi can play in 5 different positions: center forward, second striker, right winger, left winger and advanced midfield. Lionel Messi’s ability to additionally play as midfield, due to his vision while playing, gives him an advantage over Ronaldo and makes him a more valuable asset for any coach.
The fact that Messi is a more complete player is confirmed by the detailed indexes of Twelve A Side. According to our website, Messi has a general performance score of 86/100, whereas Ronaldo has a general score of 60/100 this season. As far as the attacking performance is concerned, Messi has a score of 87/100, while Ronaldo has a score of 61. Concerning the teamwork performance, the gap is even more significant, due to the quality of Messi’s passing. Thus, on this index, Messi has a score of 61/100, whereas Ronaldo has a score of 28/100. (To compare between all the top football players in the world, click on the following link : https://www.12aside.com/players/comparator)
When it comes to their performances with the national team, the comparison is more difficult to make as they play for national teams that are from different continents. The only accurate comparison possible between these two is by watching their performances during the World Cup. Messi’s best performance saw him reach the World Cup final in 2014, while Ronaldo’s was only the semifinal of 2006. Furthermore, Messi has been named the Best Player of the 2014 World Cup, but Ronaldo has never been awarded this title in his 4 World Cups played.
It’s important to note that while Ronaldo’s career is now near its end (at least a very high competitive level), Lionel Messi who is 2 and a half years younger, should stay competitive and fit enough to play at the next World Cup.