Messi and Neymar or Ronaldo and Bale: Who Is a Better Duo?

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2013

BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 02:  Lionel Messi (L) and his team-amte Neymar of FC Barcelona jokes during the FC Barcelona offcial presentation prior to a friendly match between FC Barcelona and Santos at Nou Camp on August 2, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Presumably there was not even a hint of bias involved when former Real Madrid midfielder Guti suggested Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are a better duo than Lionel Messi and Neymar, via Marca:

"Ronaldo and Bale or Messi and Neymar? Ronaldo and Bale for me. They give you more options in games when things aren't going to plan. They're really fast."

Maybe he's not noticed that Messi and Neymar are pretty quick and nifty with the ball at their feet, too?

Regardless of that, though, it does open up an interesting debate following Barcelona and Madrid's marquee summer signings.

Real Madrid's duo or the pair from Barca? The Europeans or the South Americans?

In terms of measurable, physical attributes, the Madrid pairing boast the most impressive features. Ronaldo is the tallest at 6'1", while Bale is just slightly smaller than him and their Barcelona rivals are considerably shorter than both of them.

As for pace, it is Bale who has been clocked as the fastest as recently as Madrid's 2-2 draw with Villarreal, according to Al Bawaba. The flying Welshman—this nickname is suitable here—clocked a speed of 24.85 miles per hour, which is just three miles under Usain Bolt's world-record pace of 27.79 mph.

Of course, those physical attributes may prove a hindrance when trying to do the things that Neymar and Messi can do with the ball.

There is not another player in the world who can make gliding past three players with the ball glued to your feet look as easy as Messi does, and Neymar is showing how lethal his ability to stop and start his rapid acceleration is—much to the embarrassment of many a right-back already.

Signs are beginning to show of an understanding between the two South Americans, too, with Neymar already creating goals for his Argentinian colleague.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY- SEPTEMBER 17: Real Madrid's Christiano Ronaldo (C) celebrates his goal with Gareth Bale (L) during UEFA Champions League Group B match at the Ali Sami Yen Area on September 17, 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images)
Burak Kara/Getty Images

Those signs have not been as prevalent in the Spanish capital yet—Bale and Ronaldo, unlike Messi and Neymar, have not had the benefit of a full preseason together, nor have they played as many matches. In total, they have played together for just 90 minutes.

It's tempting to suggest that Neymar and Messi will develop the better working relationship. The Brazilian has seemingly found his home on Barca's left side, while Messi continues to flourish in the central role which has elevated him to the best player in the world.

Carlo Ancelotti still has to decide how best Ronaldo and Bale will fit into his side. And while the two may destroy many a defence when he does find the solution, it may be that they do it individually, rather than as a pairing like seen with Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil before. 

It remains early days, though, and the real time to judge the quartet will be when El Clasico and the latter stages of the Champions League roll around—that's where they will be under most scrutiny.

The early winners are Spanish football fans, because watching these four will hopefully take away from the humdrum that continues to persist over the gap between La Liga's top two and "the rest"—watch out for Atletico Madrid, by the way.


Neymar's speed courtesy of, Ronaldo and Messi's via Ask4Sports. All transfer prices taken from Transfermarkt.