As the battle for La Liga looks set to ratchet up the Barca-Madrid tension even further (as if the flames needed any further stoking!), we take a look at the other battle within the battle—which of the two prized assets of world football shall have the honor of being crowned ‘El Puto Amo’?
Here are five reasons why Messi will continue to reign supreme.
There is much talk about who is the most ‘complete’ player of the two. When looking at raw statistics, it’s clear that Messi has the edge. Having played over 107 less league games than the Portuguese, Messi’s goal tally is only 35 shy of his counterpart. Not to mention his record of assists which, again, puts Ronaldo in the shade.
2004—Present (seven seasons)
121 (0.68 goals per game)
57 (1 assist every 3 games)
2002—Present (nine seasons)
156 (0.54 goals per game)
56 (1 assist every 5 games)
What could possibly be a better indication? The quite remarkable gap between the number of trophies Messi has helped win (17, including five league titles and three Champions League titles), compare to that of Ronaldo (10, including 3 league titles and one Champions League title) says it all, especially when you recall Messi has played over 100 less games.
In case there were any lingering doubts—Messi has held the title of La Liga Player of the Year for the last three seasons, as well as World Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010. He doesn’t look like loosening his grip any time soon, and this year he could make it a hat-trick.
With the prospect of being the first team to win back-back European Cups, and the chance of matching Cruyff’s ‘dream team’ with four consecutive La Liga titles, theoretically Messi should be at his most motivated ever!
With all respect to Messi and Guardiola, neither are Barcelona’s greatest asset—and they are fully aware of this. The real champion has always been, and will always be, the philosophy of total football—the very same philosophy which is second nature to Guardiola and co.
Last season Messi scored over 50 goals, playing a predominantly 4-3-3 formation—the slightly more defensive option.
If Guardiola decides after the great result against Villareal to persevere more often with 3-4-3, effectively that is one more midfielder to feed the front three—and for Messi that means more openings, and ultimately more goals!
This will most certainly be the season Messi surpasses Kubala, and inches ever closer to César Rodríguez.
In the same way that the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra would be lost without the conduction of Mariss Jansons, Barcelona and Messi would be—at least a little lost without Josep Guardiola.
Messi’s environment is based on humility, appreciation and total dedication—stemming from Guardiola’s vision. Guardiola, for his part, understands the importance of keeping Messi ‘interested’ at any cost.
Ronaldo’s environment on the other hand is dictated by a different type of manager. If Guardiola wants to win beautifully, Mourinho just wants to win.
Images of Ronaldo throwing his arms up in frustration to Mourinho’s negative tactics could yet again surface this season. Mourinho’s subtle stabs against his most important player could end up costing him dearly.
Cristiano Ronaldo is a fantastic player, a wonderful exponent of the beautiful game and possibly amongst the best to have ever of played. But has he ever been legitimately spoken of in the same breath as Pele and Maradonna? Messi on the other hand has a genuine case to present to the former superstars.
This year could see Messi crowned the world’s best for a third time consecutively and, should that happen, he will enter an elite group of players. At the age of 24 it wouldn’t be unwise to bet the house on Messi surpassing all that went before him, and making it four, or even five, Ballon d’Or’s!
With records to break, astonishing feats to set, the prospect of knocking footballs greatest off their collective perch and his best start to a new season—it is clear Messi is only improving. There is little doubt he will once again rise above the rest to yet again set the football world alight!