Messi–Ronaldo rivalry

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Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi before an international friendly between Argentina and Portugal in Geneva, Switzerland, 9 February 2011

The Messi–Ronaldo rivalry is a football rivalry between fans of Argentinian forward Lionel Messi and Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo and supposedly between the athletes themselves. Having won a combined ten Ballon d'Or/FIFA Ballon d'Or awards (5 each), both are widely regarded not only as the two best players of their generation, but also regarded by many as the greatest of all time. Both players have regularly broken the 50 goal barrier in a single season and have scored over 600 goals each in their careers for club and country.[1][2] Sports journalists and pundits regularly argue the individual merits of both players in an attempt to establish who they believe is the best player in modern football.[3][4][5][6][7] It has been compared to past global sports rivalries such as the Muhammad AliJoe Frazier rivalry in boxing, the Björn Borg–John McEnroe rivalry in tennis and the Ayrton SennaAlain Prost rivalry in Formula One motor racing.[8][9][10]

Some commentators choose to analyse the differing physiques and playing styles of the two[11] while part of the debate revolves around the contrasting personalities of the two players: Ronaldo is sometimes described as someone of temperamental character while Messi is portrayed with reserved character.[12][13][14][15] It could be the case that this is why Messi is considered trustworthier and more likable by the public,[16] even though Ronaldo improved his reputation since 2013.[17]

At club level, Messi and Ronaldo represented rivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid C.F., the two players facing each other at least twice every season in the world's most popular regular-season club game, El Clásico (among the most viewed annual sporting events), until Ronaldo's transfer to Italian club Juventus F.C. in 2018.[18][19] Off the field, they are the face of two rival sportswear manufacturers, Messi of Adidas and Ronaldo of Nike, which are also the kit suppliers of their national teams and the opposite for their clubs.[20][21][22] The two highest paid players in football, Ronaldo and Messi are among the world's best paid sports' stars in combined income from salaries, bonuses and off-field earnings. In 2016, Ronaldo was first on Forbes list of the best paid athletes, earning $88 million, with Messi being second at $81.4 million.[23] They have the two biggest social media followings in the world among sportspeople with a combined 211 million Facebook fans, with Ronaldo having 122 million and Messi having 89 million.[24] With a combined Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Ronaldo has 321 million to be the most famous celebrity on social media and Messi has 181 million excluding Twitter.[25][26]

History[edit]

It's only the media, the press, who wants us to be at loggerheads but I've never fought with Cristiano.

—Messi addresses his perceived rivalry with Ronaldo[27]

I like to see all good players, and Messi is one of them. He is a player, I really enjoy seeing him on the pitch, and all the great players.

—Ronaldo talks about Messi in an interview with Fox Sports Argentina[28]

In 2007, Ronaldo and Messi finished as runners-up to A.C. Milan's Kaká in both the Ballon d'Or, an award rewarded to the player voted as the best in the world by an international panel of sports journalists; and the FIFA World Player of the Year, an award voted for by coaches and captains of international teams. In an interview that year, Messi was quoted as saying "Cristiano Ronaldo is an extraordinary player and it would be brilliant to be in the same team as him".[29][30]

They first played in a game together when Manchester United were drawn to play Barcelona in the 2007–08 UEFA Champions League semi-finals and were immediately pitted as major rivals.[31][32][33] Ronaldo missed a penalty in the first leg,[34] but United eventually advanced to the final via a Paul Scholes goal.[35] At the end of the year, Ronaldo was awarded the Ballon d'Or and vowed that he would win the award again.[36][37]

The 2009 UEFA Champions League Final was contested between Manchester United and Barcelona on 27 May 2009 at Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy. The match, described as a "dream clash",[38] was again hyped as the latest battle between the two, this time to settle who was the best player in the world;[39][40] Ronaldo claimed he was the better of the two[41] while Messi's club-mate Xavi sided with him.[42] United manager Alex Ferguson was more diplomatic, praising both players as being amongst the world's elite talents.[43][44] Messi, playing in a central role he was unaccustomed to so he would avoid a direct battle with United left-back Patrice Evra,[45] scored Barcelona's second in a 2–0 victory with a header in the 70th minute.[46] Meanwhile, Ronaldo was subdued for much of the game despite some early chances to score and his frustration eventually showed when he was booked for a rash tackle on Carles Puyol.[47][48]

Relationship between Messi and Ronaldo[edit]

In a 2015 interview, Ronaldo commented on the rivalry by saying that "I think we push each other sometimes in the competition, this is why the competition is so high"[49] while Ronaldo's manager during his time at Manchester United Alex Ferguson opined that "I don't think the rivalry against each other bothers them. I think they have their own personal pride in terms of wanting to be the best".[50] Messi has denied any rivalry, saying that it was "only the media, the press, who wants us to be at loggerheads but I've never fought with Cristiano".[51]

However, it is widely argued and documented that there's an atmosphere of tension between the duo, with Guillem Balagué claiming in Messi that Ronaldo refers to the Argentine counterpart as "motherfucker" behind his back,[52][53] and Luca Caioli saying in his book, Ronaldo: The Obsession for Perfection, that according to his sources, Ronaldo heats up when watching Messi play.[54] In response to claims that he and Messi do not get on well on a personal level, Ronaldo commented: "We don't have a relationship outside the world of football, just as we don't with a lot of other players", before adding that in years to come he hopes they can laugh about it together, stating: "We have to look on this rivalry with a positive spirit, because it's a good thing".[55] On 13 November 2014, Ronaldo also threatened to take legal action over the remarks made by Balagué.[56]

Awards and records[edit]

Throughout the existence of the rivalry, the pair have dominated awards ceremonies and broken a multitude of goalscoring records for both club and country, feats which have been described as "incredible", "ridiculous" and "remarkable".[57][58][59] The rivalry itself has been described as one about records and reputation of the players, rather than one based in loathing.[60][61]

Ronaldo is the UEFA Champions League all-time top goalscorer while Messi is second. The two had broken each other's record over the course of 2015 after Messi surpassed the previous record holder Raúl in November 2014.[62] Ronaldo opened a gap in the 2015–16 season when he became the first player to score double figures in the group stage of the Champions League, setting the record at 11 goals.[63] They are the first two players to score 100 goals in UEFA Champions League history.[64]

Player statistics[edit]

Club statistics
As of 10 July 2018
Lionel Messi
Season League Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
2004–05 7 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 9 1
2005–06 17 6 2 1 6 1 0 0 25 8
2006–07 26 14 2 2 5 1 3 0 36 17
2007–08 28 10 3 0 9 6 0 0 40 16
2008–09 31 23 8 6 12 9 0 0 51 38
2009–10 35 34 3 1 11 8 4 4 53 47
2010–11 33 31 7 7 13 12 2 3 55 53
2011–12 37 50 7 3 11 14 5 6 60 73
2012–13 32 46 5 4 11 8 2 2 50 60
2013–14 31 28 6 5 7 8 2 0 46 41
2014–15 38 43 6 5 13 10 0 0 57 58
2015–16 33 26 5 5 7 6 4 4 49 41
2016–17 34 37 7 5 9 11 2 1 52 54
2017–18 36 34 6 4 10 6 2 1 54 45
Total 418 383 68 48 125 100 26 21 637 552
Cristiano Ronaldo
Season League Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
2002–03 25 3 3 2 3 0 0 0 31 5
2003–04 29 4 6 2 5 0 0 0 40 6
2004–05 33 5 9 4 8 0 0 0 50 9
2005–06 33 9 6 2 8 1 0 0 47 12
2006–07 34 17 8 3 11 3 0 0 53 23
2007–08 34 31 3 3 11 8 1 0 49 42
2008–09 33 18 6 3 12 4 2 1 53 26
2009–10 29 26 0 0 6 7 0 0 35 33
2010–11 34 40 8 7 12 6 0 0 54 53
2011–12 38 46 5 3 10 10 2 1 55 60
2012–13 34 34 7 7 12 12 2 2 55 55
2013–14 30 31 6 3 11 17 0 0 47 51
2014–15 35 48 2 1 12 10 5 2 54 61
2015–16 36 35 0 0 12 16 0 0 48 51
2016–17 29 25 2 1 13 12 2 4 46 42
2017–18 27 26 0 0 13 15 4 3 44 44
Total 513 398 71 41 159 121 18 13 761 573
International statistics
As of 27 March 2018
Lionel Messi[65]
Season Tournament Qualifiers Friendlies Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
2005–06 3 1 3 0 4 1 10 2
2006–07 6 2 0 0 4 2 10 4
2007–08 0 0 6 2 4 1 10 3
2008–09 0 0 8 2 1 1 9 3
2009–10 5 0 4 0 2 1 11 1
2010–11 4 0 0 0 7 4 11 4
2011–12 0 0 4 3 5 7 9 9
2012–13 0 0 8 5 4 4 12 9
2013–14 7 4 1 2 3 1 11 7
2014–15 6 1 0 0 4 3 10 4
2015–16 5 5 2 1 3 3 10 9
2016–17 0 0 4 3 1 0 5 3
2017–18 4 1 5 3 0 0 9 4
Total 36 13 44 21 42 27 128 65
Cristiano Ronaldo[66]
Season Tournament Qualifiers Friendlies Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
2003–04 6 2 0 0 7 0 13 2
2004–05 0 0 8 7 2 0 10 7
2005–06 6 1 4 0 5 2 15 3
2006–07 0 0 6 5 2 0 8 5
2007–08 3 1 7 3 2 0 12 4
2008–09 0 0 4 0 3 1 7 1
2009–10 4 1 3 0 4 0 11 1
2010–11 0 0 3 2 2 1 5 3
2011–12 5 3 5 5 4 1 14 9
2012–13 0 0 6 1 3 3 9 4
2013–14 3 1 4 7 3 3 10 11
2014–15 0 0 4 5 2 0 6 5
2015–16 7 3 2 0 4 3 13 6
2016–17 4 2 5 11 1 1 10 14
2017–18 4 4 4 4 2 2 10 10
Total 38 14 65 50 46 17 154 85

Head-to-head[edit]

In recent years, it has been said that the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona has been "encapsulated" by the individual rivalry between Ronaldo and Messi,[67][68] with neither player ever participating in a goalless El Clásico.[69]

Legend
Final
Semi-final
No. Date Competition Home team Away team Score Goals scored by the duo
1 23 April 2008 Champions League Barcelona Manchester United 0–0
2 29 April 2008 Champions League Manchester United Barcelona 1–0
3 27 May 2009 Champions League Manchester United Barcelona 0–2 Messi (Goal 70')
4 29 November 2009 La Liga Barcelona Real Madrid 1–0
5 10 April 2010 La Liga Real Madrid Barcelona 0–2 Messi (Goal 33')
6 29 November 2010 La Liga Barcelona Real Madrid 5–0
7 9 February 2011 Friendly Argentina Portugal 2–1 Ronaldo (Goal 53'), Messi (Goal 83' (pen.))
8 16 April 2011 La Liga Real Madrid Barcelona 1–1 Messi (Goal 51' (pen.)), Ronaldo (Goal 81' (pen.))
9 20 April 2011 Copa del Rey Real Madrid Barcelona 1–0 (a.e.t.) Ronaldo (Goal 103')
10 27 April 2011 Champions League Real Madrid Barcelona 0–2 Messi (Goal 76'87')
11 3 May 2011 Champions League Barcelona Real Madrid 1–1
12 14 August 2011 Supercopa de España Real Madrid Barcelona 2–2 Messi (Goal 45')
13 17 August 2011 Supercopa de España Barcelona Real Madrid 3–2 Ronaldo (Goal 20'), Messi (Goal 53'88')
14 10 December 2011 La Liga Real Madrid Barcelona 1–3
15 18 January 2012 Copa del Rey Real Madrid Barcelona 1–2 Ronaldo (Goal 11')
16 25 January 2012 Copa del Rey Barcelona Real Madrid 2–2 Ronaldo (Goal 68')
17 21 April 2012 La Liga Barcelona Real Madrid 1–2 Ronaldo (Goal 73')
18 23 August 2012 Supercopa de España Barcelona Real Madrid 3–2 Ronaldo (Goal 55'), Messi (Goal 70' (pen.))
19 29 August 2012 Supercopa de España Real Madrid Barcelona 2–1 Ronaldo (Goal 19'), Messi (Goal 45')
20 7 October 2012 La Liga Barcelona Real Madrid 2–2 Ronaldo (Goal 23'66'), Messi (Goal 31'61')
21 30 January 2013 Copa del Rey Real Madrid Barcelona 1–1
22 26 February 2013 Copa del Rey Barcelona Real Madrid 1–3 Ronaldo (Goal 12'57')
23 2 March 2013 La Liga Real Madrid Barcelona 2–1 Messi (Goal 18')
24 26 October 2013 La Liga Barcelona Real Madrid 2–1
25 23 March 2014 La Liga Real Madrid Barcelona 3–4 Messi (Goal 42'65' (pen.)84' (pen.)), Ronaldo (Goal 55' (pen.))
26 25 October 2014 La Liga Real Madrid Barcelona 3–1 Ronaldo (Goal 35' (pen.))
27 18 November 2014 Friendly Argentina Portugal 0–1
28 22 March 2015 La Liga Barcelona Real Madrid 2–1 Ronaldo (Goal 31')
29 21 November 2015 La Liga Real Madrid Barcelona 0–4
30 2 April 2016 La Liga Barcelona Real Madrid 1–2 Ronaldo (Goal 85')
31 3 December 2016 La Liga Barcelona Real Madrid 1–1
32 23 April 2017 La Liga Real Madrid Barcelona 2–3 Messi (Goal 33'90+2')
33 13 August 2017 Supercopa de España Barcelona Real Madrid 1–3 Messi (Goal 77' (pen.)), Ronaldo (Goal 80')
34 23 December 2017 La Liga Real Madrid Barcelona 0–3 Messi (Goal 64' (pen.))
35 6 May 2018 La Liga Barcelona Real Madrid 2–2 Ronaldo (Goal 14'), Messi (Goal 52')

Results[edit]

Competition Games played Messi wins Draws Ronaldo wins Messi goals Ronaldo goals
La Liga 18 10 4 4 12 9
Champions League 5 2 2 1 3 0
Copa del Rey 5 1 2 2 0 5
Supercopa de España 5 2 1 2 6 4
Friendly 2 1 0 1 1 1
Total official matches 35 16 9 10 22 19

Last updated 6 May 2018

References[edit]

Notes
Citations
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External links[edit]