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When Barcelona meet Real Madrid the
biggest subplot is the battle of Lionel Messi vs Cristiano
Ronaldo.
Ronaldo is the world’s most expensive player, Real having
signed him for $131 in the summer of 2009. Prior to that he had been signed by Manchester
United from Sporting Lisbon as an 18-year-old.
They are two of the highest paid soccer players in
the world game.
Messi has a release clause of $400 million and his rise to
the top could not

contrast more starkly to that of Ronaldo. The Argentinean
left Newell’s Old Boys for Barcelona at the age of 13, with the club paying for
treatment on a growth hormone deficiency that threatened to stunt his progress.
In 2012 he became the club’s record goalscorer at the age of just 24.

Each player has won the World Player of the Year award, and
has scored in a Champions League final.
Ronaldo says it is like comparing a “Ferrari with
a Porsche”, but who is the best?
Messi vs Ronaldo: Finishing With Feet
Messi is very much left-footed and finishes most of his
chances off on that side. He generally occupied the position on the right side
of attack after Josep Guardiola took over as Barcelona coach in 2008,
but has featured more centrally as time has gone on. Messi is outstanding in
one-on-ones, capable of the subtle dink over an advancing goalkeeper, a curled
effort into the corner or a piledriver. So many chances come his way in a team
that dominates most games that he will miss a few, but it is hard to find fault
in Messi’s finishing. 9/10.
Where Messi generally favors brains over braun when faced
with the whites of the goalposts,Ronaldo more often than not opts for
sheer power. Unlike Messi, the Portuguese star is right footed, but is also
adept at finishing on his weaker side. Can be guilty of profligacy, but his
goals record speaks for itself. 8/10.
Messi vs Ronaldo: Finishing With Head
Messi memorably scored the second goal against
Manchester United in the 2009 Champions league final with his head. But that
was the exception to the rule, and most of La Pulga Atomica’s (The
Atomic Flea) goals come from his left foot. 6/10.
Ronaldo scores far more goals with his head, not afraid
to go in where it hurts. At 1.85 meters, Ronaldo is always going to be more
effective in the air than Messi, who stands at 1.65. Ronaldo manages to apply
great power to his headers and undoubtedly scores higher in this category. 8/10.
Messi vs Ronaldo: Free-kicks
Messi is capable of producing exquisite set-pieces that
bend past opposing goalkeepers. His free-kicks are again more about finesse
than brute force. He perhaps lacks the variation of Ronaldo. 8/10.
Ronaldo’s swerving free-kicks are a thing of beauty.
When playing for Manchester United, he revealed that he uses the technique of
striking the ball on the valve to get more power and movement. He is also
capable of the classic curling free-kick. 9/10.
Messi vs Ronaldo: Dribbling & Control
Messi is the dribbler extraordinaire and there is no
one better in the world at taking on and beating players. The beauty of Messi
is that it is not just his pace that takes him past defenders, but his sublime
technique, quick feet and balance. He is not the strongest or quickest player
in the world, but relies on natural ability to take him past his man. 10/10.
Few players can perform a step-over like CR9, and
it is such skill that helps him beat opponents repeatedly. Ronaldo’s control
is generally excellent, but he relies more on his pace to take him past players
than his Argentinean counterpart. 9/10.
Messi vs Ronaldo: Skill & Technique
Such is Messi’s skill that the ball can appear
glued to his feet as he maneuvres himself out of tight situations and finds
teammates when it seems he is surrounded. Messi, like Ronaldo, can use the
backheel to great effect and also has a penchant for looping the ball over a
defender and collecting it on the other side. 10/10.
Ronaldo is more of a showman than Messi and can take
the breath away with his array of stepovers and flicks. But in some matches,
when the stepovers are taking him nowhere and he is attempting backheels that
are not finding team-mates, Ronaldo stands accused of producing style over
substance. He is blessed with tremendous natural ability and when on song he is
a joy to watch, but he has more ineffectual matches than Messi. 9/10.
Messi vs Ronaldo: Team Play
One of the reasons Messi has been more successful
at club level than international level is that he dovetails so beautifully with Xavi
Hernandez and Andres Iniesta. His chemistry with these two is a
beauty to behold and there is no one at Barcelona who claims that Messi does
not work hard enough or combine well with his teammates. 9/10.
Ronaldo is a player almost beyond reproach but one of
the gripes that some teammates have had about him -and certainly sections of
the Real Madrid support- is that he can be selfish and too obsessed with making
the difference on his own. Ronaldo has been known to shoot from ridiculous
angles and distances when teammates are better placed, and will often try to
score when there is a superior option to his left or right. Some Real fans have
made their frustrations known, and Ronaldo has actually been whistled at the
Bernabeu for his individualistic approach. He also has a tendency to show his
frustration and petulance towards teammates. 6/10.
Messi vs Ronaldo: Physical Prowess
Messi is not a big man and can be knocked off the ball
by more imposing opponents. However, he is also well capable of holding his own
in one-on-ones and often it takes a foul for a defender to knock him off the
ball. 7/10.
Ronaldo is a real specimen of a man and has previously
claimed to do 1000 press-ups a day as he looks to maintain his washboard
stomach. He is a physically imposing player with unquestionable fitness and
professionalism in looking after himself. 9/10.
Messi vs Ronaldo: Goal Totals
Over the past six seasons, the players’ cumulative goal
returns for club and country have been similar. Ronaldo has often been moved
higher up the pitch and into a more central position as his career has
progressed, while Messi is now commonly deployed by Barcelona in the position
he can hurt opponents most: at the centre of the attack. He, like Ronaldo,
played deeper earlier in his career but coaches such as Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose
Mourinho and Josep Guardiola realize that when you possess a player of the
class of either of these two, it is wise to position them where they can do the
most damage. 10/10 for both.
Conclusion
Messi exerts more influence over more games. Ronaldo has
been accused of being a ‘flat track bully’ in the past, effective in the lesser
matches but disappearing when it really matters. This may be a harsh
assessment, but Messi has produced more performances in the biggest games. The
Argentinean scores one more point than the Real Madrid man and edges the battle
of Messi vs Ronaldo.
Total:
Lionel Messi: 69/80
Cristiano Ronaldo: 68/80

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