There can be no doubt that football fans in 2014 are witnessing the careers of two of the all-time great footballers.
Messi and Ronaldo polarise opinion in a way few have done before.
But it will be the magician from Rosario; the atomic Flea; Lionel Messi who will prove himself the greatest in 2014.
Cristiano Ronaldo was a rightful winner of the Ballon d'Or last week. The Portuguese enjoyed his annus mirabilis, as he helped himself to 66 goals, 15 assists and a hat-trick that sent Portugal to the World Cup Finals in Brazil. All of this in 56 appearances.
By comparison, an injury-hit Messi struck 42 goals in his 45 games.
And yet, when it came to the voting for the Ballon d'Or winner, Ronaldo only prevailed by 3 percent, winning 31 percent of the overall votes cast.
If this, then, was a vintage year for Ronaldo and by all accounts, a difficult one for the Argentinian, why did Ronaldo struggle to attract support?
The answer lies in the two stars' personalities.
Ronaldo is the epitome of confidence. An athlete so innately aware of his own ability that he strives to display it at every given opportunity.
Messi, by comparison, is not only dangerous himself, but he makes all of those around him on the Barcelona and Argentina teams dangerous.
That selflessness, despite his incredible talent, endears Messi to his colleagues, to fans and to neutrals alike.
Where Ronaldo is as fine an example of an athlete on a football pitch you are ever likely to see, Messi comes from the Diego Maradona and George Best school of players.
Players who enchant the people that watch them; who give their opponents "twisted blood."
Truly great players create memories in fans' minds that will last a lifetime. And therein lies what football is about, not statistics.
That is why Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Zinedine Zidane, Ferenc Puskas and Pele will always be remembered as greats of the game.
And it will be in Brazil this year that Messi adds his name to that illustrious roster.
No European team has won a World Cup in South America before. The odds, then, are stacked in favour of Messi, Neymar and Co.
With Messi having had the winter to recuperate from injury, the Barcelona magician will be fresh-legged heading into a World Cup that should define his career.
He has already fired a signal of intent, grabbing two goals at Getafe in the Copa del Rey on his return from injury.
Cristiano Ronaldo may have won the battle of the statistics in 2013, but it will be Messi who creates history in 2014.
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