I really don't need to introduce the debate at this point. Ronaldo vs. Messi—the discussion that has no conclusion.
Who is the best player in the world? I don't know, and I don't want to get into it here. The point with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi is that each has his relative strengths and weaknesses. Each man is blessed with slightly different traits.
Whomever's strengths you think are most important to the success of his respective team, Ronaldo and Messi are two of the best players of their generation and should be admired for the beautiful football they play every week.
Let's focus on Ronaldo here. What are a few things that the Real Madrid and Portugal winger does better than his counterpart? We shall find out.
Lionel Messi is probably more feared one-on-one by defenders, but he is no match for Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of raw speed.
That is a large part of what makes him so much better than almost everyone else. Few have his technical and dribbling abilities, but no one can marry that with Ronaldo's absolutely searing pace.
This makes him particularly deadly on the counter-attack. Lead Ronaldo on and roll one forward toward him, and he will almost always be able to beat a defender in a race to the ball.
While Messi is extremely quick with the ball, there is no denying that Ronaldo is better without it.
Messi has been getting better in this area of his game as he gets afforded more opportunities to take free-kicks in place of Xavi.
However, if I had to have one player in the world take a 25-yard, centrally located free-kick for me in the 90th minute with the game on the line, it would undoubtedly be Ronaldo.
Nobody can make the ball dip and swerve on command at extremely high velocities like he can. His range is incredible; strikes from 35 yards away are equally likely to find the back of the net as those from 20.
When Ronaldo steps up to take a free-kick, the entire stadium goes silent and claps to the rhythm of his run-up. That is the definition of a feared and respected man—the best on the planet.
I think that Lionel Messi gets a bad rap for his heading ability. Simply because he is 5'7" does not mean that he is incapable of heading the ball.
He does not have the same control over his neck and his feet, but Messi's precision is still better than most players'.
The problem is that his stature works against him—that he cannot help. Ronaldo, on the other hand, at a muscly 6'1" can grapple with the most physical defenders out there and use his valuable leaping ability to get over tall defenders.
It's not something Messi can help very much, but Ronaldo nevertheless has a clear advantage.
Both Ronaldo and Messi are often reluctant to track back and pitch in on the defensive side of the ball, but the former's aforementioned advantage in stature makes him a better defender when he puts the work in.
There is not a whole lot that one can do with a 5'7" player in defence other than intercepting passes played on the ground.
However, Ronaldo can be put in a wall on a free-kick, mark someone in the penalty area in a dead ball situation or use his pace to track back and perform some of Messi's usual tasks.
For hereditary or learned reasons, Ronaldo is simply the better defender.
Simply because of Cristiano Ronaldo's physique, he is able to do a couple more things on a football pitch than Lionel Messi.
Most obviously, Ronaldo can shoot with tremendous power from a great distance and usually worry the goalkeeper. Messi has uncorked some screamers in his day, but it's much more difficult for his little legs and body to generate the sort of rotational torque that Ronaldo does.
Of course, Ronaldo has a great advantage over his rival in the pure physical gifts he was blessed with. As previously mentioned, Messi just has to cope without a chiseled 6'1" frame.
As such, the former's game is much more based on powerful strikes, quick decisive movements and the sheer overpowering of opponents than the latter's more finesse-oriented style.
There is no right way to play, obviously, but Ronaldo has used his physical power to his advantage on his way to becoming arguably the best football player on earth.