Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo: A Rivalry for the Ages

Adi-Oula Sebastian@JubeiKibagameCorrespondent IIDecember 12, 2009

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 23:  Cristiano Ronaldo (R) of Manchester United holds off the challenge of Gianluca Zambrotta (C) and Lionel Messi (L) of Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final, first leg match between Barcelona and Manchester United at the Camp Nou stadium on April 23, 2008 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

The Ballon D'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year

It is the end of the year and almost all the major award ceremonies have been held already. The Ballon D'Or was not suprisingly awarded to FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi . The diminutive winger and his teammates almost won it all, the FIFA Club World Club yet to be played.

Not only did Messi win the coveted prize, he won the award by a record margin ahead of Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo who won the Ballon D'Or in the previous year.

Little Lionel should also pick up the FIFA World Player of the Year which due later this month. Again Messi replaces Ronaldo as the recipient.

Since 2007 both Messi and Ronaldo have been mainstays in the top three for both awards. Which in itself is a remarkable achievement. Messi's former teammate Ronaldinho for instance quickly faded away after the 2005/2006 season and has since not been seen again on either shortlist, let alone the top three.

FC Barcelona and Real Madrid

Being a player for either of each teams automatically makes those two natural "enemies." There isn't a rivalry more heated and more intense than between the Blaugrana and Los Blancos. 

Like their mega popular employees they battle each other for the top spot. Both of these teams starve for domestic and international dominance. Real Madrids much publicized acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo just added more dimension to this eternal rivalry.

Before Ronaldo joined Los Merengues his competition with Lionel Messi was limited to the Champions League and award ceremonies. Now that CR9 is a Real Madrid player he will directly compete with Messi in La Liga: Week in and week out. Not one week passes by where one of them isn't gracing the front page of a football magazine.

Remember the 2008/2009 Champions League Final? The media hyped the encounter to a clash between Messi and Ronaldo. The match ended in a 2-0 victory for FC Barcelona but if you had paid attention to the news afterwards you would've thought it was a boxing fight where Messi won by a Knock Out.

The Future

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are bound to be rivals for years to come. They both play for arguably biggest teams in the world, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively. Their teams provide them the platform to compete on the domestic and international level. FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid isn't just about footballing philosophies: Canteranos Vs. Galacticos. It has also become Messi Vs. Ronaldo.

What is frightening though is that they are both very young and might've not reached their peak yet. 

Messi and Ronaldo play for the biggest football clubs in the world. Whose rivalry is well documented and already the most intense in world football. They are playing in the same league and compete for the same trophies and accloades and what is more important are about the same age.

Pele vs. Maradona was good but the rivalry between Messi and Ronaldo could down as the biggest rivalry in football. Expect both Messi and Ronaldo to pick up a multitude of titles and awards in the forthcoming years.