The rivalry between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi has been one for the ages and has captured the world’s interest in recent years. Its rise to prominence and place in football history resulted in comparisons to other legendary rivalries such as Frazier vs. Ali, Nadal vs. Federer, Coke vs. Pepsi, and Taylor Swift vs. Nicki Minaj.
Everything about Ronaldo and Messi sets the perfect stage for their perceived rivalry. Ronaldo is a brash and exuberant performer who is powerfully built and has a massive ego. Messi is a shy and a humble person who is shorter and has a more compact physique. On the field, Ronaldo and Messi spearhead the long-standing rivalry for Real Madrid and Barcelona, respectively, and individual football records continually get broken as both consistently leap-frog each other.
Hell, their rivalry even persists off the field. Ronaldo is the global face of Nike and is the third highest paid athlete in the world. Messi is the global face of Nike’s biggest competitor, Adidas, and is fourth on the highest paid list.
Without a doubt, this is one of the all time great rivalries. But in an attempt to present a conclusive answer to who is better than who, here are twelve reasons why Ronaldo is better than Messi.
12. He Is The More Complete Player
Messi and Ronaldo are amongst the most complete football players to ever play the game, but if you had to compare the skills between these two titans of the sport, Ronaldo manages to just edge Messi.
Ronaldo is taller and more robustly built than Messi, and this physical difference accounts for their differing styles of play. Messi is shorter, more compact, and less powerful, thus he relies on his incredible agility and ball control. In contrast, Ronaldo not only has incredible agility and ball control of his own, but he is able to rely on his strength and power against defenders should he need it. Ronaldo’s superior power and physique gives him a greater free-kicking and long-range kicking ability than Messi.
Due to a height difference of six inches between the two, Ronaldo also possesses a world-class ability to jump, something Messi just physically can’t match.
11. He Is A Very Charitable Guy
It feels almost wrong to compare who is better at being a philanthropist and an all around nice guy because both Ronaldo and Messi are incredibly charitable people.
With the media constantly focused on his personal life, people generally forget what Ronaldo has done for the less fortunate over the last decade or so. After the Indian Ocean tsunami 2004, he flew over to Indonesia to help raise money and help the country rebuild. In 2012, Ronaldo was made aware of a seriously sick nine-year-old child and without hesitation, he saved the child’s life by paying for pioneering therapy.
When he’s not helping in saving sick children’s lives, Ronaldo is a spokesperson for childhood hunger and obesity, and has also donated money to help build schools and to help fund hospitals.
10. He Has His Own Museum
When your trophy cabinet is too full, the standard response is to get another one. When you’ve won as many pieces of silverware as Ronaldo, and you have an ego as big as his, you forego a cabinet altogether and go straight for a museum.
Located in his hometown of Madeira in Portugal, Museu CR7 serves as Ronaldo’s personal trophy cabinet and a museum that is dedicated to his life. Housed within the walls of CR7 are over 140 trophies, cups, medals, golden shoes, signed shirts, and signed boots. There is also a massive collection of photographs and other bits of memorabilia, including a life-sized wax figure, that document Ronaldo’s life. With so many bits and pieces that even hardcore fans may not know about, this place is a mecca for everything related to Ronaldo.
Whilst it’s pretty certain that Messi won’t be opening a museum anytime soon, Ronaldo has even left spare room in his museum for any future trophies he may win.
9. He Consistently Delivers On The World Stage
It’s one thing to be playing for a Premier League team and it’s another to be playing for your country. Both Messi and Ronaldo are captains for their respective national teams and have done their respective countries proud throughout their careers, but Ronaldo seems to always give that little bit extra whenever he dons that red Portugal jersey.
Whereas Real Madrid have the limelight shared across its team, Ronaldo shoulders all the limelight whenever he is involved in an international match. With that amount of attention, and pressure, on his shoulders, Ronaldo always gives his all for Portugal. During the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Ronaldo was under an injury cloud and Portugal were on the brink of elimination unless they defeated USA. Despite a bum knee, Ronaldo was more than willing to play on for his country and managed to produce enough magic to salvage Portugal’s slim chances (although they still lost out later in the tournament).
Ronaldo’s dedication to his team is backed up by his numbers as well. Taking into account all international competitions, Ronaldo has scored 55 goals in 122 caps whilst Messi has scored 49 goals in 105 caps.
8. He’s A More Prolific Scorer
When it comes to goals, Ronaldo and Messi have produced enough moments of football magic to last several lifetimes. But when it comes to numbers and statistics, Ronaldo is quantitatively better than Messi.
Including his international and club numbers, Ronaldo has scored a mind-boggling 499 goals from 752 apps. By comparison, Messi has scored “only” 467 goals from 597 apps. Ronaldo’s superior scoring ability is reflected by the numerous goal records he holds such as being the first player to reach 40 goals in a professional league for two consecutive seasons, the only player to score 60 or more goals in a calendar year four times, and the only player to score more than 50 goals in five different seasons.
Just as a cherry on top, Ronaldo holds the unique record for being the first player to score in every minute of a game.
7. He’s A Fantastic Performer In La Liga
Despite debuting in La Liga in 2009 compared to Messi’s 2005 debut, and logging in over 100 fewer appearances, Ronaldo is matching, or in some cases, bettering Messi’s Spanish League numbers.
Seemingly making up for lost time, Ronaldo has become the fastest La Liga player to score 100, 150, 200, and 300 goals. Ronaldo’s mighty scoring ability has also netted him some other miscellaneous records such as the La Liga record for most hat-tricks at 28, being the first player to score more than 50 goals in four consecutive seasons in Spanish football, and for being the only player to score against every La Liga team in a single season.
Perhaps Ronaldo’s most impressive and most telling La Liga records are his penalty kick conversion rate and goal ratio. Ronaldo currently boasts the best penalty kick conversion rate at 93 per cent and the best La Liga goal ratio of 1.12 per game. There must be something in the Spanish air that’s elevating Ronaldo’s Spanish league performances.
6. He’s Won The European Golden Shoe Award Four Times
The European Golden Shoe is awarded to the leading goal-scorer across the top division of every European league. After a couple of gushing entries over Ronaldo’s scoring ability, you’d be correct in thinking that Ronaldo has a few of these trophies tucked away somewhere.
Four European Golden Shoe trophies to be exact.
This makes Ronaldo the first (and only player so far) to win this Golden Shoe award four times. Crucially, for the sake of this list, Ronaldo’s four trophies puts him ahead of Messi by one. What makes this achievement even more impressive is that Ronaldo has managed to win the Golden Shoe award in both the English Premier League and La Liga whilst Messi’s wins have all come from La Liga only.
On the topic of Ronaldo’s competitiveness in different leagues…
5. He’s Won Two League Titles For Two Different Teams
Messi has primarily focused on the Spanish League and has been extremely successful with his team, Barcelona. Ronaldo, on the other hand, has dipped his toes in both the Spanish League and the English Premier League with great success.
During his six-season tenure in the English Premier League, Ronaldo lent his services for Manchester United. After a three-season teething period, Ronaldo helped Manchester United win three Premier League titles in a row from 2006 to 2008 before transferring to Real Madrid and trading in England for Spain.
Rather than go through a slump, Ronaldo managed to help Real Madrid break through Messi’s Barcelona team’s prior dominance in La Liga and win the Spanish League title for the 2011-2012 football season. If Ronaldo can do it, maybe Messi should try his hand at the English Premier League sometime.
4. He’s Less Injury Prone
All things considered, injuries are to be expected when you play a sport that requires insane levels of fitness and features continuous stop-start running for an hour and a half to two hours. For all his talent and natural ability, Messi has had his share of injuries. In contrast, Ronaldo has been pretty good in the injury department.
Whilst Messi has been forced to miss months of play due to injury, Ronaldo has generally managed to play through most football seasons, save for a few little niggles here and there. Thanks to an awesome team of physios and nutritionists, Ronaldo has managed to keep himself healthier than Messi, despite Messi being a few years younger. In fact, when Ronaldo won the 2013 Ballon d’Or Trophy, he bought each of his Real Madrid trainers a car as a sign of gratitude for keeping him in top shape.
In a final ironic twist of fate, Messi suffered a knee injury very recently whilst Ronaldo was given a ‘Healthiest Player Award’. Maybe Ronaldo could recommend a physio or two to Messi.
3. He Is A More Recognized Worldwide Figure
Whilst they may be closely matched on the field, Ronaldo definitely has Messi’s number when it comes to things off the field.
Ever since he made his Manchester United debut, Ronaldo has consistently been one of the world’s most marketable athletes. With an ever growing endorsement profile, Ronaldo collects sponsors like how most people collect stamps. Big companies such as Calvin Klein, Coca-Cola, Castrol, Konami, Banco Espirito Santo, Motorola, Jacob & Co, Tag Heuer, Fly Emirates, Samsung, and even KFC are more than willing to throw money at Ronaldo in exchange for plastering his face and body on every advertisement.
But Ronaldo isn’t all about soft drinks, fried chicken, and engine oils. In 2006, Ronaldo launched his own fashion boutique called CR7 (taken from his initials and jersey number) in his hometown. Since its inception, CR7 has steadily grown and expanded into the underwear and fragrance business.
Admittedly, Messi has a considerable brand behind him as well. But when it comes down to it, who would you rather have modelling Calvin Klein underwear, Ronaldo or Messi?
2. He Has The Best Guiding Him
Throughout his career, Ronaldo has been guided by an envious roster of great coaches and managers.
During his Manchester United days, Ronaldo was under the tutelage of the great Sir Alex Ferguson, one of the greatest football managers ever. Their partnership proved to be very successful with a total of three Premier League titles, one UEFA Champions League title, one FA Cup, two Football League Cups, and one FIFA Club World Cup.
When Ronaldo transferred to Real Madrid, the managerial reins were taken up by the equally great Jose Mourinho. Under Mourinho’s guidance, Ronaldo has added a La Liga title, one Copa Del Rey title, and one Supercopa de Espana title to his ever growing collection.
Most recently, Ronaldo worked with Carlo Ancelotti, another all time great football manager. Their partnership proved to be very successful as Ronaldo managed to add another UEFA Champions League title, another Copa Del Rey, another FIFA Club World Cup, and a UEFA Super Cup to his trophy museum.
1. He Is The Greatest Footballer Ever In His Home Country
Make no mistake, Messi is one of the greatest football players to ever grace the field. But due to his physique, playing style, and nationality, Messi will forever be playing underneath the shadow of other great Argentinian players such as Daniel Passarella, Gabriel Batistuta, and Diego Maradona. Until Messi can bring home a World Cup title, he’ll always have the burden of an entire country on his shoulders.
Portugal doesn’t have anywhere near the depth of football skill that Argentina does. As such, Ronaldo is spared from any comparisons from previous Portuguese football greats because he’s already proven himself to be his country’s greatest football player ever. Whilst Argentinians debate over Messi and Maradona, the Portuguese Football Federation has named Ronaldo as their country’s best ever player.
With no past glories hanging over him, Ronaldo is able to play with the knowledge that he can only keep adding to his legacy.