With the exception of mud-wrestling, there are very few contests that have provided a more enjoyable spectacle than Lionel Messi versus Cristiano Ronaldo. And even the noble sport of bikini clad soil-grappling may not illicit the same level of drooling as the goals of La Liga’s crown jewels.
There was a touch of the spaghetti western about Ronaldo when he rolled up to the Bernabau in 2009. “I hear some gringo thinks he’s a better shooter than me. I’m here to teach him otherwise,” he never actually said. But we’re speculatively guessing he was thinking it. Like Clint Eastwood with more of a fondness for hair product.
Paddy Power has that particularly generous Money-Back Special on the big game too. If Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo score the first goal in this game, Paddy Power will refund all losing First Goalscorer, Last Goalscorrer, Correct Score & Scorecast singles on the match.
Ronaldo had smashed in the goals for Manchester United, but still the diminutive Argentinian was widely considered his superior. The opportunity to thump inferior opposition in the same league as Messi was surely almost enough to put briefly put the slice of the £80m transfer fee that was coming his way in to the back of his mind in 2009.
To his credit, he has continued to bang in the goals, some of which have been truly incredible. But just when people may have been considering the order of the world’s best and second best players, Messi found another gear.
In the B.C. (Before Cristiano) season of 2008/09, Messi managed 23 La Liga goals. In the seasons since Ronaldo’s arrival, he’s managed 34, 31 and 41 (and counting) respectively.
No doubt fuelled by a bruised ego, that in turn fuelled some remarkable goalscoring feats from CR7. In his two and a good bit seasons at Real, he has scored 139 times.
The rivalry fits nicely into the stereotypes associated with the clubs at present. Ronaldo with the dynamic power, irritating air of superiority and general moaniness that epitomises Mourinho’s Madrid.
Messi has the graceful guile, implicit sense of superiority and specific moaniness that comes from getting kicked all the time that characterises Guardiola’s Barcelona.
This season, Ronaldo doesn’t even have the personal glory of being the heavier goalscorer to make up for a comparatively underused trophy cabinet.
In La Liga, the duo are level on 41 goals each, but taking in to account cups and continental competitions, Messi is the clear leader with 63 goals in all competitions.
Ronaldo has ‘just’ the 53, which will probably annoy him more than someone else hogging the mirror.
One area where Ronaldo does have the edge is on the first goalscorer stats. He’s managed it marginally more than Messi, which sadly for him means nothing more than punters love him slightly more.
The El Clasico goals category is a little harsh on the heavily Brylcreemed one. Lionel Messi has been knocking in derby goals since he was marginally shorter than he is now.
In contrast, Ronaldo only arrived in the Spanish capital in 2009 and already had some considerable catching up to do. The Argentine had already walked six of his 13 el Clasico goals into the net by the time he arrived in Spain.
(Barcelona v Real Madrid, Saturday, April 21. Coverage from 6.30pm, Sky Sports 1 HD)
- Messi: 50 Appearances, 63 goals in all comps, 11 times first goalscorer in all comps, 13 El Clasico goals
- Ronaldo: 48 Appearances, 53 goals in all comps, 13 times first goalscorer in all comps, five El Clasico goals