Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are both recognized worldwide as iconic figures in football and are widely regarded as the two greatest players of their generation.
The two players have distinct playing styles, and each has achieved dominance uniquely.
The rivalry between Ronaldo and Messi reached its peak during Ronaldo’s nine seasons at Real Madrid from 2009 to 2018, while Messi was competing with their Spanish rivals, playing for Barcelona.
However, the 38-year-old Ronaldo now shifts to playing club football in Saudi Arabia with Al Nassr while Messi, who is 36 years old, is now based in the USA, playing for Inter Miami.
As we contemplate whether the rivalry between Messi and Ronaldo is over or not, let us examine the remarkable accomplishments of these two exceptional players.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s Achievement
Messi and Ronaldo have comparable trophy collections, but Messi holds a slight advantage in terms of league titles.
The World Cup winner has won La Liga 10 times with Barcelona and Ligue 1 once with PSG.
On the other hand, Ronaldo has an impressive record of winning seven league titles.
What sets the Portuguese apart from Messi is that he has achieved this feat in three different countries; England, Spain, and Italy.
This unique accomplishment enhances Ronaldo’s claim to being the greatest of all time (GOAT) in the opinion of some.
The 38-year-old holds a slight advantage over Messi in terms of Champions League victories, having won the tournament five times compared to Messi’s four.
He also achieved remarkable success representing Portugal on the international level. Ronaldo emerged victorious in both the European Championship and the UEFA Nations League.
On the other hand, Messi also won the Copa in 2021, followed by his victory in the 2022 Finalissima and the 2022 World Cup.
In addition, Lionel Messi has won an Olympic gold medal.
Together, they have won an impressive total of 79 official trophies during their senior careers so far, with Messi winning 44 and Ronaldo winning 35. Additionally, they have consistently surpassed the 50-goal mark in a single season.
Ballon d’Or and Individual Award
Messi surpassed Ronaldo in the Ballon d’Or rankings by winning his sixth in 2019. The Argentine solidified his superior position in this field by securing his seventh in 2021.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo has achieved more of FIFA’s new ‘The Best’ awards and has been crowned UEFA Player of the Year more times. However, Messi has won more league Player of the Year accolades.
It is worth mentioning that Ronaldo has been awarded the Player of the Year in England, Spain, and Italy.
Messi has won the European Golden Boots a record six times, surpassing Ronaldo’s achievement by two.
Overall, Messi holds a slight edge over his rival. However, the fact that both players have been included in the FIFPro World XI 14 times demonstrates the closely contested nature of their rivalry.
In their final game before the international break, Al Nassr emerged victorious with a 5-1 away win against Al-Hazm, during which Ronaldo achieved a remarkable milestone by scoring his 850th career goal.
The Portuguese maestro has surpassed Messi in terms of overall career goals, as the Argentine currently has 819 goals.
It is worth mentioning the significant number of players who have secured lucrative transfers to soccer clubs in Saudi Arabia following Ronaldo’s arrival in the Saudi Pro League (SPL).
Since Ronaldo’s transfer to Saudi Arabia, several star players including Neymar, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kanté, Kalidou Koulibaly, Edouard Mendy, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mané, and Marcelo Brozović have also made moves to the SPL.
What could put an end to the rivalry?
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have accomplished numerous significant milestones in the sport of football, earning them recognition as two of the greatest players in history.
Lionel Messi is widely recognized by many fans as the greatest of all time (GOAT) in football during the modern era.
One can argue that the rivalry between Lionel Messi and Ronaldo has come to an end, given that Messi has won more major titles, including the World Cup, which Ronaldo is yet to achieve.
In addition, it is worth noting that Ronaldo, who has won the Ballon d’Or five times, was not nominated for the award for the first time since 2003.
On the other hand, Messi is widely regarded as the frontrunner to win the Ballon d’Or for an unprecedented eighth time after being nominated for the 2022/23 Ballon d’Or award.
The nomination is largely due to his outstanding performance in leading Argentina to victory at the 2022 Qatar World Cup in December.
If Messi wins the award for the 8th time after securing the 2022 World Cup, wouldn’t it be short-sighted to continue the rivalry?
Even if Messi doesn’t emerge as the winner, it’s mostly impossible for Ronaldo to beat his already established records in the Ballon d’Or race.
Furthermore, Messi, who is 36 still has more playing time than Ronaldo, who is 38 years old. This suggests that the Argentine has the potential to achieve more records, provided that both players retire at the age of 40.
Cristiano Ronaldo declares the ‘rivalry is over’
Cristiano Ronaldo has asserted that he and Lionel Messi are both great footballers and believes their rivalry has now ended.
The Portuguese captain addressed the media less than 24 hours after the announcement of the 30-man shortlist for the 2023 men’s Ballon d’Or award.
Ronaldo said: “The rivalry is over. It was good, a healthy rivalry that spectators liked a lot.”
“Whoever likes Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t have to hate Messi or vice-versa because they’re both very good. They changed the history of football, and they keep on doing it.”
“We are respected throughout the world, that’s the most important thing. He makes his way, I make mine, even if we are playing outside Europe. He has done well, from what I’ve seen, and so have I. It’s about continuing.”
“The legacy continues. The rivalry, I don’t see things like that. I’ve already said, we’ve shared the stage for 15 years and we ended up being, I wouldn’t say friends, because I never dined with him, but we are professional colleagues and we respect each other.”
Even though Ronaldo claims the rivalry is over, the debate about who is the true GOAT will rumble on among football lovers.
The coexistence and simultaneous domination of both players in the sport of football is what has made this rivalry so fascinating and captivating.
What is next for Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi?
Ronaldo is expected to lead Portugal’s national team as they are scheduled to compete against Slovakia and Luxembourg in two Euro 2024 qualifiers in the upcoming days.
In the meantime, Lionel Messi and the Argentina national team have two World Cup qualifiers scheduled for this month as they will be facing Ecuador and Bolivia.
What’s your take on this, do you think Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Lionel Messi rivalry is really over? Please, share your thoughts with us in the opinion box below: