Cristiano Ronaldo: Why His All-Around Game Is Better Than Messi's

Camilo ArbelaezContributor IIAugust 21, 2011

Cristiano Ronaldo: Why His All-Around Game Is Better Than Messi's

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    Debate about the recent Clasico fighting has shown that fans are quite edgy when it comes to discussing the rivalry.

    Thus, a comparison of any kind between Barca wonder Lionel Messi and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo is bound to get the message boards in an uproar.

    This slideshow is not intended by any means to argue over who is a better player, or who will leave a bigger print in history.

    With this piece I just want to point out some key areas of the game in which Cristiano Ronaldo is superior to the Argentine wonder, and why his skill set makes him a more complete player than Messi.

Aerial Prowess

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    This is by far one of Ronaldo's most polished and overlooked skills. At 6'1, his heading capacity is tremendous, and represents a consistent threat to opposing defenders across Europe.

    It was no surprise that Cristiano's game-winner in April's Copa Del Rey final (against Barcelona) came via the aerial route.

    This is an asset that Messi, at a generously listed 5'7, is surprisingly good at and has scored some key headers in the past—like in the 2009 Champions League final, when his looping header floated past a helpless Edwin van der Sar to clinch the match.

    However, he is nowhere near the threat level of Ronaldo. The Portuguese winger's power makes him a bit more dynamic.

    Having such a strong header and vertical leap are two skills that Messi can only dream of having.

    This attribute is also a great plus for his teams as they take advantage of his skills to defend on set pieces against the other team’s best headers.

Doesn't Rely on His Teammates to Impact the Game

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    When playing for FC Barcelona, Messi has Xavi and Iniesta providing him with service—easily two of the best central midfielders in the world. Those two maestros excel at providing Messi with service that puts him in threatening positions, often finding him around the periphery of the penalty area, or through balls that find his darting runs into the box.

    Clearly they do a great job and Messi thrives off their brilliance. However, any time that he plays without them you see a completely different player. Yes, defenders still find it nearly impossible to strip him off the ball without having to foul him, but he is nowhere close to the efficiency he shows when he plays at Camp Nou alongside his super friends.

    His all-around performances with the Argentina national squad have been dreadful and are painful to watch. He is highly criticized for this.

    While he was better during July's Copa America, he often does what Nicolas Anelka once did for the French national team, dropping deep to get more touches on the ball. During difficult games, Messi often looks to spark life into his side by going it alone. He has the talent to do it, but well-disciplined defenses can snuff out his runs effectively.

    After all, he can't go all Getafe on every team he faces.

    Cristiano, on the other hand, continues to score regardless of who his teammates are. Since vaulting into the spotlight during Euro 2004, he has managed to succeed with more than one soccer club.

    He is brilliant at creating his own shot opportunities and can score in any number of ways.

    Though many critics may say he is a ball hogger for this, keep in mind that Cristiano has still managed to score twenty plus goals for the past five seasons, including two seasons in which he was been awarded the European Golden Boot.


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    Besides from being a great scorer, Ronaldo can also assist his teammates.

    By any means this does not mean Messi is lacking in this area. His numbers from last season would reinforce that notion.

    Cristiano, however, has always played in teams that like to attack from the wing. His favored position for both United and Madrid—and Portugal as well—has been as a left winger who can cut inside and put defenses under pressure. In many ways, it's a mirror image of Robben on the right for Bayern Munic.

    Ronaldo has excelled as wing player who delivers dependable crosses. At Manchester United, it was Wayne Rooney who benefited. At Santiago Bernabeu it’s either for Karim Benzema or Gonzalo Higuaín. Even Emmanuel Adebayor got a taste during his loan spell last spring.

    The only reason why he doesn’t cross on set pieces is because of his superb aerial skills.

Cristiano Ronaldo Is a Gifted Athlete

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    Every single game Cristiano Ronaldo represents quite a mismatch for his defenders.

    He is a truly gifted athlete, and trains obsessively to keep in shape.

    Upon arrival at Manchester United in 2003, many were watching the young Portuguese's career with great interest. They were also following the trajectory of another young Portuguese winger, Ricardo Quaresma.

    Quaresma had superior talent to Ronaldo, but a questionable drive has seen him flounder where he should have flourished. Ronaldo, meanwhile has used his relentless drive to make him, arguably, the best player in the world.

    His exceptional speed, vertical leap, and both upper and lower body strength are the best complements for his extraordinary foot capacity.

    Whether he faces up against physical defenders, or savvy timing maestros he will either sprint past them or dribble his way through in order to score.

    Tackles are no problem for him since he has the strength to counter them and his lethal shot is one of the most powerful in the world today and that is due in a great way to his incredible build.

Set Pieces

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    One of Cristiano's most amazing skills comes from set piece taking.

    His unique technique and the rare effect he prints in every shot he takes make this weapon a nightmare for goalkeepers. The ball literally explodes off his right boot after his stuttering run-up.

    Despite Messi's recent interest for taking set pieces, he doesn't come close to his Merengue rival, often opting to curl shots around keepers rather than strike through the ball.

    In his right foot, Ronaldo holds a precious weapon ready to strike at any given time and change close games to Real Madrid’s favor.

Cristiano Ronaldo Can Play Any Style of Soccer

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    Diehard Barcelona fans can say everything they want about Real Madrid's negative tactics under Mourinho, while displaying their pride in their side's "tiki-taka" style of play.

    The truth is, however, that Cristiano still managed to score 53 goals in 54 matches despite playing in Mourinho's "anti-football".

    Not only he has succeeded with Real, but he also had some brilliant years as a striker under Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, and previously at Sporting.

    The big question surrounding Messi is how he adapts to other styles other than Barcelona's and his capacity to score when he holds the responsibility to create his scoring opportunities on his own rather than being fed by Guardiola's tactics.

    When dressed up for Argentina, Messi has been given many different combinations of players surrounding him, but he has yet to prove himself at international play.

    He shows glimpses of his brilliance while wearing the Albiceleste shirt—he's too talented not to—but his inconsistency with the side has been maddening.

    It doesn't favor him either that he has never played for any other football team, let alone, any other style of football.

    He has to prove himself here in order to be considered the greatest of all time.


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    As mentioned in the introduction this slideshow was not about which player is better. I'm gonna leave that up to you guys.

    I decided to come up with some aspects of the game in which Cristiano Ronaldo is very good at and that make him a very complete soccer player. Of course Messi is superior in some parts of the game than Ronaldo but i don't see him as such all around threat as the latter.

    Please post your take on this subject below on the comment section.


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