Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have dominated the football world in the last 10 years, having won the Ballon d’Or nine times between them. Both stars have been the epitome of consistency in the game and have churned out impeccable records over the course of their careers.
The rivalry between Ronaldo and Messi started back in 2007 when both were nominated for the FIFA World Player of the Year Award together with then AC Milan forward Kaka. The Brazilian scooped the award ahead of them, but the pair have completely taken over since then, claiming the accolade in each of the following nine years.
And after the Portuguese star won his fourth Ballon d’Or on Monday, Pulse.com.gh takes a look at the achievements and records behind the impressive careers of the Real Madrid and Barcelona stars.
The Real Madrid ace won his fourth Ballon d’Or on Monday to add to his remarkable haul of achievements in his glittering career. In a season where he won the two most prestigious trophies in Europe – the European Championship and the Champions League – very few would dispute the fact that he deserved to be named world best player. The former Manchester United star first led Real Madrid to an 11th Champions League trophy – undecima – before captaining Portugal to their first ever trophy in history at the Euros. The Portuguese has virtually been a goal machine for the Galacticos, with his goals catapulting the La Liga giants to the top of European football. His minute per goal ratio is outstanding, but what do the records say about the Portugal captain?
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a total of 112 goals in 292 appearances for Manchester United before leaving to join Real Madrid in then €94m world record deal in 2009. The Real Madrid No. 7 had already claimed one Ballon d’Or and also won the Champions League before joining the Spanish side. Since arriving in Madrid, Ronaldo has taken his scoring record to new heights. After a slow start to his tenure with Madrid, the Portuguese captain has scored over 50 goals in each of the last five seasons. Ronaldo bagged an impressive 51 goals and registered another 15 assists in 47 appearances last season. He was only outscored – and beaten to the European golden boot – by Barcelona adversary Luis Suarez.
In 2014/15 he scored a whooping 61 goals and added a further 22 assists in just 54 matches in all competitions – 48 0f the goals coming in La liga alone. Ronaldo has also top scored in the European Champions League in each of the last three seasons. In 2013/14 he scored a total of 17 goals as Real Madrid romped to the trophy and was just one short, as he scored 16 to become top scorer in last season’s competition. Ronaldo also holds the record for most goals scored in the group stages of the Champions league (11). He again holds the record for most goals scored in the knockout stage of the Champions League (42). Ronaldo had missed out on the Euros trophy as Portugal were losing finalists in 2004, but at the 2016 European Championship in France, the former Manchester United star captained his nation to win the ultimate, scoring three goals and setting up a further three for his team-mates. Ronaldo drew level with Michel Platini on 9 goals for the most goals scored at the European Championships when he headed in against Wales in the Semi finals of Euro 2016. He is also the all-time top scorer for both Real Madrid and Portugal – and is the most capped player for the latter with over 130 caps.
Ronaldo has now won the Ballon d’Or four times (in 2008, 2013,2014 and 2016), three Champions League trophies, four league trophies (three with Manchester United and one with Real Madrid), one FA cup, a club world cup, two Copa Del Reys, two European Super Cups among others. The reigning Ballon D’or holder has scored 12 and assisted a further six in 16 appearances this season.
The Argentine international has rivaled Cristiano Ronaldo for the better part of a decade and both are regarded as two of the very best to ever play the game. Messi however has an edge over the Real Madrid ace when it comes to the number of Ballon d’Ors won. The Argentina captain has won the accolade five times – four of which were won in a row between 2008 and 2013. The Barcelona forward is most often compared with his legendary compatriot, Diego Maradona due to his skill and quick feet. Messi is a one-club man who has played his entire career at the Camp Nou outfit, since rising through the famous La Masia academy.
Even though Messi missed out on this year’s Ballon D’or, the diminutive forward had a very strong season both at club and international level last season. Although largely challenged by a series of niggling injuries last term, Messi recovered and managed to score 41 goals. At a point where Barcelona were struggling in the middle of the season, the talismanic forward chipped in with some match winning performances to steer his side to a League and Copa Del Rey double. He remains the only player to have won three European golden boot awards.
When it comes to the goals, Messi is the most prolific in La Liga history. The Argentine holds the record for most goals scored and assists registered in the Spanish topflight. He is also the only player to have scored 50 goals in a single La Liga season. In the 2011/12 season Messi scored a colossal 82 goals to surpass Gerd Muller’s 79 to set the record for most goals scored in a football calendar year. The Argentina captain also led his nation to the world cup final in 2014 only to lose by a lone goal to Germany in extra time. Messi however won the golden ball of the tournament after scoring five goals and assisting a further three en route to the final. He and his Argentina side again lost to Chile the following year in the Copa America final hosted by the latter. Another heartbreak followed last season, when Argentina again lost for the second time to Chile in the Copa America Centinario held in USA.
The Argentine has not won any major trophy with his nation – aside an Olympic gold medal won in 2008 and an under 20 world cup in 2005 – but at club level he has enjoyed a lot of success. The Barcelona star has won the treble twice in his career, including four Champions League crowns. He has also won eight La Liga titles, four Copa Del Reys and three UEFA Super Cups among other laurels. Messi is also the all-time top scorer for Argentina and is credited with being the only player to have scored consecutively against all opposition teams in La Liga. He is also the only player to have won more than one golden ball at the FIFA club world cup. Messi currently has 20 goals in 15 appearances this season, with a further seven assists.
The talented duo of Ronaldo and Messi have divided opinions on who is the better player, but it is undoubted that both are great in their own right. As for whom the better player is, the debate will still continue among football loving fans.