If there is one argument in football that divides opinion more than any other, it is surely the debate over which player is better: Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
Three-time World Footballer of the Year Ronaldo—the Brazilian, not the Portuguese—is the latest to have his say, stating his belief that Messi has more impact on big games than his La Liga rival.
I would stick with Messi. It is difficult. It is like when you are looking to buy a house and they offer you many nice ones, but you need to pick one.
Messi seems more complete to me, or at least more decisive. In the important moments, he appears and scores goals.
The argument emerged again this week after Ronaldo—the Portuguese version—netted a hat-trick for Real Madrid against Galatasaray, only to see Messi match his efforts with a treble against Ajax.
Ronaldo moved himself ahead of the legendary Ferenc Puskas with his virtuoso performance, taking his Madrid tally to 206 goals from 204 games. That is one better than Puskas managed in the same number of matches, per Richard Arrowsmith of the Daily Mail.
Messi, by contrast, has netted 322 goals in 385 games for Barcelona. Judged purely over the period of time that Ronaldo has been at Madrid, his goal-scoring stats read 242 strikes in 224 outings.
Yesterday, Ajax became the first club in CL history to be 'hat-tricked' by Cristiano Ronaldo AND Lionel Messi.— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) September 19, 2013
Certainly, Messi’s honours list is far more expansive, boasting six Liga titles, three Champions League crowns and two Copa del Reys. He is also the first man to be named the world’s best player four times.
Who is better?
Ronaldo can point to the fact he has won titles in separate countries with Manchester United and Madrid, while it is widely acknowledged that he operates in an inferior side to Messi’s Barcelona.
Ronaldo has some early catching up to do in the goal charts this season, having netted two in four league outings compared to Messi’s total of six in three games.
However, in relation to the Brazilian Ronaldo's point about Messi being the better big-game player, it has to be highlighted that Messi has twice scored a crucial goal in Champions League finals, outshining Ronaldo when Barcelona met United in the 2009 final.
The pair will get their first chance to get one over each other in the first Clasico of the season on Oct. 26. Barca currently lead Madrid by two points in the table.