Cristiano Ronaldo is the reigning European Footballer of the Year, the 42-goal scorer in one season, already lauded as one of the greatest. Lionel Messi, the young Argentinean player, has been dubbed "the little Maradona."
These two have many things in common: a desire to score goals, a glitz and glamor about their play, and much more. But they have many uncommon things that differentiate them.
Today, Messi is the only competition to Ronaldo, and vice versa.
This may sound a bit odd to many people. Although I'm a big follower of Manchester United and Ronaldo, my mind can't agree. Ronaldo has scored some marvelous goals—some even the greats can't even imagine.
But his temperament, his capability to rise to the occasion is not as good as Messi's. Messi's purity of football cannot be compared to anyone's.
You may have seen Diego Maradona score the goal of the century. After receiving the ball in England's half, he dribbled past eight English players and a goalkeeper all by himself to score that marvelous goal.
Today in football, you see there are some excellent dribblers, but you never see a run like what Maradona did. The reason lies in the commitment, the desire to score goals.
Messi never lacks that; if he receives the ball—he feels that it's his duty to score a goal. Very rare it is to find Messi losing the ball inside the penalty box. He just scores some goals or assists them to his teammates.
Ronaldo, on the other hand, is an attacking footballer. He too has a burning desire to score goals all by himself. Although his team play is much improved now, his capability to help his team rise is a bit low. His contribution from the wings is fairly low, other than his goal-scoring abilities.
Alexander Hleb, Messi's teammate on Barcelona, has said that he has never seen anyone like Messi. Messi's sprint speed is by far the best among all players who have played, who are playing, and even who are going to play. His control of the ball in tight places and pinpoint accurate passes make him one of the all-time bests.
Everyone is comparing Messi to the great Maradona. The hype has led to the fall of many footballers, but not Messi. He is continuing to score goals at a high level.
Messi's new Argentina coach, Maradona himself, applauded himself by saying, “Messi has got a long way to go—he is just 20. He at least has another 10 years more. Maybe he can become somewhat like me.”
The last European Footballer of the Year award went to Ronaldo and not Messi. During the 2007-2008 season Ronaldo was way better than Messi.
But it's unclear whether Ronaldo will retain it after last season. All players are giving thumbs-up to Messi lifting that gorgeous trophy next year
The last time these lads faced off each other, it was on the biggest stage for European Football: the Champions League Final—Barca against Manchester United in Rome. It was Messi who got the better of the Portuguese winger. Messi scored in a 2-0 defeat of the English giants.
Well, with Ronnie's move to Real Madrid, we will see much between Ronaldo and Messi! El Classico will have more than just Barca versus Real Madrid; from now it will be Ronaldo against Messi.