Who is better: Ronaldo or Messi? I try to answer the age-old question
For those of you who do not know my father was born in Barcelona Spain in 1959, during the brutal reign of the military dictator who allowed The Germans to bomb Spain and his own people during WWII, Francisco Franco. Franco was also great bowling buddies with Richard Nixon, but that’s a story for another day. This has made me identify not only as Hispanic but as Catalan. The plight of the Catalan’s for independence is something very serious to me, and the oppression felt during Franco’s Regime is what led my Grandfather to immigrate his family to Greenville, South Carolina. Needless to say, I was born and still am a Barcelona fan.
I love Atlanta United because I am from Atlanta. We all are huge football fans and all of us had a team we loved before United came to this amazing city. One of the reasons I write so many articles about teams like Liverpool, Arsenal, Man U, and International Teams is because all of us loved a team before Atlanta. Having said that the question that I want to ask is one that comes down to opinion, although I will make my argument as to why my opinion is the correct one. This question has been asked in countless pubs, barbershops, football matches, and couches: Who is the better player, Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi?
First I will start with the Portuguese Phenom who is probably the closest resemblance in history to what Achilles looked like fighting the Trojans. Ronaldo is extremely gifted with the physical attributes he was given. He has a 16-pack, which I did not know existed until he took his shirt off after scoring for Manchester United. He has incredible footwork and everyone recognizes his top-level step over’s that we will see him do to a poor right back. The ability that he holds to strike the ball with such precision from the inside of his foot is incredible to watch. When you pair that skill with the physical gifts that he was born with, you’re going to be good at something.
Ronaldo certainly is. Coming at defenders as quickly and agile as he does combine with his ability to head the ball with incredible jumping aptitude make him always dangerous. The swerve he can put on a free kick is also one of his strong suits, and he also rarely gets injured. He has won every trophy imaginable except the World Cup and goes back and forth with Messi with most Champions League goals. There is absolutely no question that of the two Ronaldo is more athletic by a long shot. He has the height of Ibra with the speed slightly less of Salah. He has won 5 Champions League’s and is the only player to win 5 Champions Leauge’s. There is no questioning he is one of the best players of all time.
There are downsides to Ronaldo as talented as he may be. He can be selfish although he has gotten better over his career. He also is always in love with the spotlight and needs to be the top man on his team. It’s hard to be better than Ronaldo obviously, but it hints at slight insecurity with competing against other players on his team. If I had to guess that would come from entitlement because he has already accomplished more than any footballer ever. Still, he has never struck me as a full team player. Although an incredible individual skill but not one to sacrifice himself for the betterment of the team, having said that, that is the tiny bit of criticism in his game.
Now to the other man in the argument, Lionel Messi, and as I said I am a Barca fan so perhaps I am biased. I am looking at this objectively as I can, but my parent's dog’s name is Messi, and I named him. The Argentinian is the only footballer in the world that can compete with Ronaldo on the basis of goal scoring, importance to his team both international and club, and overall ability. Messi has battled through adversity in his life, he started at Barca because they were the only club that would allow him hormone treatment in order to help him grow. He has collected 6 Ballon d’ Or awards, the only player in history to do so. He is the all-time leader in La Liga in scoring, which when thought about really says something. There have been so many great players to play in Spain, none have scored more than Lionel Messi.
Although in their careers they are somehow one goal apart at 619 (Ronaldo) and 620 (Messi), however, Messi has 50 or so more assists than Ronaldo does. This is a part of the crux of my argument. Messi is unquestionably one of the most selfless players ever to play the game. He will give up a goal to a teammate if they are on a hat trick, and he will always pass the ball even if he would be able to score 90% of the time. He may not have the deer like the speed of Ronaldo, but his quickness and ball-handling is what make him great. I have always likened his ball skills to him having the ball glued to his foot. Some of the best defenders in the world have issues with his foot movement. Messi has also led his team to a World Cup Final. Something that Ronaldo has failed to do in his career, although Messi has arguably the better players.
The Argentinean is also remarkably humble. He doesn’t boast or brag, and he rarely celebrates. He has always seemed to be cerebral in his approach to the game. Messi’s mind is what makes him the better of the two. They are both true competitors and work extremely hard at their respective skills. Messi just has another level than anyone I have ever seen. Although he was not built like Ronaldo, his ability to believe that it does not matter has made him the greatest player to ever walk the face of the Earth.
Ronaldo is phenomenal. I do not want this to seem impartial as he is certainly one of the greatest players of all time. He is without a doubt the most athletic. Messi has created cohesion in all of the Barca teams that he has played for. Ronaldo has moved to 3 separate teams now and I believe that is because of his want to make his mark in different countries and wants to be the top man at whatever team he plays on. One thing can be said, we all are blessed to live in an era where we can have these conversations, and watch these two incredible footballers play out their whole careers.