June 6, 2017
There is always debate about the greatest player when it comes to sports. In some sports there is a clear standout, but in soccer there are many greats. Many players have been recognized as legends of the past such as: Pele, Maradona, and Beckham. In this era, there are two players who dominate the stage, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Together, they have broken almost every record ever. However, a highly debated topic is: Who is better, Messi or Ronaldo?
Messi, a 5’7” forward, who plays for Barcelona FC and the Argentine National Team has achieved almost every record known to man. He has scored almost 600 goals for his club and his country in his career. He has won the Ballon d’Or 5 times, which is given to the best men’s soccer player every year.
Ronaldo, a 6’1” forward, plays for Real Madrid CF and the Portuguese National Team. He has also scored almost 600 goals for club and country in his career. He has won the Ballon d’Or 4 times.
On paper, Messi and Ronaldo seem to be very close and that may be why people cannot identify who is truly the best player. Statistics are not able to show the difference between the way the players play. Messi’s technical ability clearly separates him from Ronaldo. He is able to beat players with his outstanding dribbling and control over the ball. When he is not able beat a player, he identifies the best option to pass. As a younger player, Messi was a very direct player who focused mostly on scoring goals. However, as he has gotten older and matured as a player, he is more of a team player now. That is why he has been able to rack up 230 career assists compared to Ronaldo’s 195. Ronaldo is overall a better athlete, which allows him to win more headers than Messi, and use his size and speed to beat players, but when he is put in a smaller area, he is not able to impact the game the way Messi does.
The distinguishing factor between Messi and Ronaldo is the split second decision making that Messi has. He is able to see the game and control it far better than Ronaldo is. It is clear by watching a game that Messi is more of a game changing player. In the 2017 El Classico, which is Barcelona vs. Ronaldo, aka Messi vs Ronaldo, Barcelona came out on top. Messi was able to score 2 goals including the game winner in stoppage time. On the other hand, Ronaldo had virtually no impact on the game. He was unable to register a goal or assist during the entire game.
In soccer, there are many things which an attacking player needs to be great. The major ones are talent on the ball, team play, physical ability, and last and most importantly the ability to score goals. Ronaldo is a fantastic athlete who can score many goals and possesses far above average skill on the ball. The problem is that he just waits to score and is not involved in the team play. Therefore when Real Madrid scores, he usually is just getting that final touch on the ball to put it into the back of the net. Messi, is something completely different. The goals which he scores for Barcelona and the national team are almost always created and scored by him. His ability to play with his team is outstanding. His goal scoring ability is equal to Ronaldo, but his dribbling is far better. Although he stands at 5’7”, his low center of gravity and strength allows him to rarely be overpowered.
Ronaldo is a true legend and will always be remembered as a great player. It is a privilege to be able to watch the possible bests of all time competing against each other every week. In any other time period, Ronaldo probably would have been the best player, but he cannot compete with the best player of this time period and most likely of all time, Lionel Messi.