Will it be the last GOAT duel? Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi face off in a friendly in Saudi Arabia. On this occasion, we look back on the greatest clashes between what are probably the best players of the 21st century.
The GOAT debate is a bit tiresome, yet it has hung over the world of soccer for years. No other topic lasts longer than the discussion about Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Who is the better? Which camp do you belong to? Was there ever a better one than the two exceptional talents?
Since many didn’t have the pleasure of seeing the likes of Pelé or Maradona (yes, there are many other legendary kickers) live and in colour, the latter question does not even arise for many fans. However, CR7 and Messi rallied in their successful careers with enough arguments that this opinion is quite justifiable.
The fact that Messi has now led his Argentinians to the world title in Qatar should probably swing the pendulum in his direction – especially since Ronaldo said goodbye to Portugal in the quarter-finals. The direct duel between the two superstars, which would only have been possible in the World Cup final, did not come about.
Lionel Messi Vs. Cristiano Ronaldo: Stats
Before we delve deeper into the most iconic games, it’s worth taking a look at the insane stats of the two Superstars.
Ronaldo scored 701 goals and provided 223 assists in 949 competitive games for his clubs. In addition, there are 118 goals in 196 games for Portugal.
Messi has also scored 702 at club level and 98 for Argentina (172) in 855 games. When it comes to assists, he’s a bit ahead of his rival, with whom he now has a friendly relationship, with 388 overall.
He also won the prestigious Ballon d’Or, twice more than Ronaldo, with seven titles. He has one more Champions League trophy in his showcase. In the big titles with her national team, Messi has now trumped Ronaldo with the World Cup title in Qatar. In addition, the Argentine won the Copa America, CR7 “only” the European Championship, but he was denied the world championship title.
Cristiano Ronaldo & Lionel Messi in Direct Comparison
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Cristiano Ronaldo Vs. Lionel Messi: The Last Duel
Ronaldo, then already at Juventus Turin, secured his team the group victory with a brace. The Old Lady won 3-0 against FC Barcelona.
Did he score the first goal in the usual way with a penalty, the second – how else? – Also. In the meantime, Weston McKennie made it 2-0 with a sidekick.
Messi, on the other hand, missed several top-class shots. It was the first defeat for Barça in the group stage since 2009 – now, as we know, that’s not uncommon.
Lionel Messi Vs. Cristiano Ronaldo: The First Clásico Duel
Ronaldo had come to Madrid from Manchester the previous summer for the then-record sum of 94 million euros. It was to be the beginning of what might be the greatest feud of all time.
However, FC Barcelona won the game 1-0. A certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the goal of the day. Sergio Busquets and Lassana Diarra each saw yellow-red in the heated duel. And Messi and Ronaldo? Not much came from either of them. Ronaldo was even substituted, with Karim Benzema coming on.
Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi: The Most Important Duel
Ronaldo and Messi only faced each other six times in the premier class. At least once in the final. Barcelona took an early lead through Samuel Eto’o, and Messi decided for the vastly superior Catalans. And how!
After a cross that was too high, the 1.69-meter jumped into the air and came from behind with his head on the ball. Keeper Edwin van der Saar could only watch how the ball hit the far corner. “Messi can do everything. He’s the strongest, he’s the best,” enthused coach Pep Guardiola afterwards.
It was the icing on the cake of Barça’s show of might and perhaps the best team of all time. CR7, on the other hand, was almost completely sidelined. At the same time, it was Ronaldo’s last game for Manchester United before moving to Real. A year earlier he had won the helm pot with the Red Devils after defeating Barcelona in the semifinals.
Lionel Messi Vs. Cristiano Ronaldo: The Biggest Slap
The game not only resulted in one of the most painful defeats in the history of Real Madrid and Ronaldo, but also one of the most legendary moments in the feud: a visibly battered Messi ran towards the 5-0 shortly after Jéffren’s goal centre circle to wait for the restart while Ronaldo looked down the tube, hands on hips.
A picture that should also stand for the differences between Real and Barça in the following years: while the Madrilenians only won the league three times from 2010 to 2020, the Catalans were in the top six times at the end of the season in this period.
Despite the five goals, Messi’s name didn’t end up on the scoreboard. Xavi, Pedro and David Villa scored the first four goals in a brace. It was also a wake-up call for Real – only in 2015 during the Ronaldo era did they lose again at a similar rate (0:4).
Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi: The greatest spectacle
Goals from Ronaldo and Messi, a red card for Sergio Ramos and a total of seven goals: this Clásico had everything that makes a spectacle. It was undoubtedly the most attractive duel in the era of the two rivals.
In the end, Barça won 4-3, and Messi became the match-winner with three goals. Ronaldo had meanwhile given Real a 3-2 lead from the point. Messi also scored twice from penalties, equalising 3-3 and making it 4-3.