Messi celebrating in his orginal style

Is Messi the best player in the world?

I am reading a lot of articles about who is better between Ronaldo and Messi. Obviously, this has been a long debate and no useful conclusion has ever been drawn.

Before I begin the comparison, let us just state the assumptions so that everybody starts on the same level, i.e, that everybody is on the same page.

The assumptions I will be making when comparing Ronaldo and Messi for the season 2010-2011 so far are#

  1. Both are great players and probably two of the best of their generation so if someone (for example Borris Becker) proves that one player is better than the other one, this does not mean that the other player (ie Messi or Ronaldo) are poor players. They are still better than the rest of the world. We are talking “relatively” here.
  2. Both are at that stage of their career where most of their skills on the ball are perfect so we are not going to go into the debate of whether Messi is faster or Ronaldo.
With that out of the way let us begin our analysis.
The first thing I think we should all notice is the way Mourinho and Pepe Guardiola use Ronaldo and Messi. Mourinho uses Ronaldo as a part of the team. Not the man through whom every move and every pass has to start and finish which is the case with Messi at Barcelona.
So if you go purely on statistics then Messi is obviously better. He out performed Ronaldo in terms of number of goals and assists last season and probably will do so this season too. But is being the best player about scoring goals and having a certain number of assists?
I do not think so. Zidane is considered to be the greatest midfielder of all time and one of the top 5 players of all time almost unanimously. How many goals do you think he scored?

Not many is the answer. His highest tally of goals throughout his career is 15. Which is by no means a hard mark to achieve or even beat so does that mean Zidane was not as good as say someone like Luis Fabiano or even Messi, so regularly score over 25 goals a season and 35 goals a season respectively.

Again, I do not think so. So I think we should not rank players on the basis on pure number of goals and assists. One should always judge by watching actual matches and then observing the impact of the player.

I think on this note. Ronaldo is a better player than Messi in the sense that he has more impact on the field of play than Messi and that is more because Messi plays in a team that is filled with Superstars and less because Messi is so good. He is very very good.

But if you look at the matches of both Barcelona and Real Madrid. You would see that C.Ronaldo is much more of a team player than Messi. Ronaldo has sacrificedhisstyle of play, all those years of mesmerizing the defenders with his step overs and what not are gone now, just because he wants the team to do better and not himself only.

Messi, has therefore not changed his game at all and that is not to say that he needs to change at all. He is a complete player in the sense that he has perfect control of the ball and has unmatched speed. Ronaldo is a complete player in the sense that he can do everything and that is the edge that Ronaldo has over Messi, he can contribute to the team in so many more ways than Messi can.

But we all know that Messi is so good that he does not need to do many things in order to be useful. His speed and dribbling alone are enough to make him one of the all time greats.

This season we have seen that Mourinho has basically used Ronaldo as a sort of a decoy. While he has scored a lot of goals and the ball always go to him whenever there is a counter attack (that is the only way you can play as a team when you have someone has fast as Ronaldo on your side) , in most games he just runs around with 3 markers on him and makes space for other Real Madrid players.

With Messi, we see that he rarely makes sacrificial runs for his teammates but again, the fact comes that he does not need to. Atleast not at the moment.

Here are the statistics so far for the season for both players.

Messi : 19 goals in 16 games.

Ronaldo: 13 goals in 17 games.

So even though Ronaldo is not getting the media attention when it comes to scoring lots of goals, we clearly see that he is not far behind Lionel Messi after all. Add to that the fact that Barcelona’s game play is suited to Messi’s style. It augments his already massive skill on the ball.

I do think that Messi has the better control , better sense, better dribbling and better vision for the game than Ronaldo and not to mention the fact that Messi is younger than Ronaldo.

That is why Barcelona win their away games with relative ease. It always goes this way, Messi takes the ball in the 15nth minute and produces a moment of magic or two and Barcelona go 0-2 up away in the 32nd minute. The rest of the game they just play around with the opponents.

While for Real Madrid the situation is pretty different. Real Madrid has to work very hard in order to get results away from home because Ronaldo is marked pretty tightly and he cannot move around as he likes too. Ronaldo tries hard to produce a magic of his own but he is not able to do so on the same scale as Messi.

Messi is far more consistent than any other player on the planet in terms of producing unbelievable moments in any given match at any given time. Even Ronaldo is not that consistent, he tries hard but somehow I get the filling that Ronaldo has a cap to the amountof3damage he can do. His potential is not unlimited, whereas for Messi, sometimes you wonder if he has any cap at all.

It is also true that both are not (yet) at the level of Figo, Zidane or the old Ronaldo. These were players who performed on the biggest stages did it while they were pretty young (except Zidane you can say) and they scored magic goals against teams like Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid (yeah Real Madrid) in tournaments like Champions League and crucial stages in the league as well.

I do not remember a big match where Messi has produced magic apart from that Classico couple of years ago against Real Madrid which Barcelona drew 3-3 and Ronaldo. Oh well, we all know how well he performs in big match (just kidding!!!).

This post could get very very long and I will probably need some more posts in order to establish who has been the most effective player so far.

At this moment, I think it is Ronaldo but I also think, in fact I know, I would choose Messi over Ronaldo any day right now. One other point I totally forgot to mention was the fouls committed on Ronaldo and Messi this season.

For some bizarre reason, Ronaldo gets hacked at more times than Messi. That is really amazing since Messi runs with the ball at his feet going past defenders more than Ronaldo. Ronaldo has changed his style a bit and now looks for the killer passes as well along with his own thing with the feet.

I think the reason for that is, Messi goes past players with his dribbling, not with his trickery. Ronaldo goes past players with his trickery and that is why he gets fouled a lot more. Messi is even difficult to make a foul at. He is very very fast. Messi changes his direction a lot more than Ronaldo which enables him to go past players with relative ease and that is also the reason defenders are unable to have a hack at him.

Real Madrid's number 9 Ronaldo looks for inspiration

Cristiano Ronaldo wants to be the best and to be the best you have to beat the best, the best is Messi.

Ronaldo mostly, beats players with his step overs or that behind the leg trick (cannot remember its proper name) and most of the team when a players gets tricked into going the other way, as a last resort, he pulls Ronaldo down either by pulling his shirt off or by having a hack at his legs.

So Ronaldo’s effectiveness is also hampered by the fact that defenders are able to foul him more than they are able to foul Messi and that again is a credit to Messi’s genius.

I will be updating the rivalry between the two. One thing is for sure and that is, both want to be the best in the world and that both want to beat each other at everything in football. Right now, Messi is winning the battle, but the war is not over.


Update: 31-12-2014

Messi vs Ronaldo

Thanks to Ivan from Guarantee Tickets for the Info graphic on Messi vs Ronaldo. Originally this was posted here