There are not a lot of things that need to be stated in addition to what already has been written and said about these two players. Messi(plays for Barcelona just in case you were living under a rock for the past 8 years) and Ronaldo(plays for Real Madrid just in case you did not have electricity for the past 4 years. Wait, the newspaper? Whatever) are two of the best players in the world. Most of the world though think that Messi is in another league. A higher league ,that is, when compared to Ronaldo’s.
That is quite a valid point as Messi has been known to perform on the biggest of stages against the biggest of teams when it comes to club football. Ronaldo more or less has put in subdued performances throughout his career against teams with good defensive capabilities.
Lets not touch on the fact that Messi has rarely performed on the big stages for Argentina and the opposite is perhaps true for Ronaldo.
What I want to focus on in this post is the shooting ability of these two.
From a shear numbers perspective, you would think that Messi is the better striker of the ball. That is not necessarily true or was not necessarily true 2 or 3 years ago.
Both of them had mediocre shooting abilities when they were young and were just starting to make their name in European big leagues. Both of them worked extremely hard at their weak points which made them stronger and more complete players than before.As a result of all that hard work they, now, have the honors of being called the greatest players of their generation.
Messi has obviously scored more prolifically than Ronaldo so far. His goals to minutes ratio is better than Ronaldo’s but one must consider the fact that Ronaldo (still) does not play as a striker or number 10 who plays just behind the striker and hence gets a lot of opportunities. Messi has been playing in the best attacking club team of the world since the beginning of his professional career and on top of that, he has been playing in the position where he is most effective. That is, everywhere where he feels like it.
In contrast, Ronaldo in the beginning of his career, and even after that, was a pure winger (Messi has been playing in the same position since his birth I guess).
As far as finishing goes, I think one has to weigh Messi’s abilities a bit more simply because he has the ability to put away chances that should be put away in pressure situations. Ronaldo also does the same but very rarely, which is a lot when you want to be considered for the title of greatest player of all time, messes up easy chances. Messi does not mess up and perhaps that is why Messi should be given one point over Ronaldo on this one.
Finishing ability wise, I think both are equal. Though Messi has scored more goals than Ronaldo but account should be taken of the fact that Messi might have had easier chances to score from since he has been playing at Barcelona for 8 or 9 years now where the philosophy is to pass the ball into the net.
Ronaldo on the other hand has played in over a dozen systems and none of them very attacking ones. He has always played in teams who play inherently counter attacking football.
Still Messi just barely edges out Ronaldo in terms of goals scored.
Shot Power(Rocket shots, long shots)
In terms of shooting power, Ronaldo wins hands down. He is a master at long shots. Although statistics say that only 1 out of 30 long shots actually get you a goal, in case of Ronaldo that does not hold true. The Portuguese has scored scorchers from long ranges throughout his career from all over the field and his physique (muscles on those bazooka legs) helps him even more in converting those sniper shots.
Messi is someone who can barely shoot from outside the box but that could be explained by the fact that he has other abilities which allow him to bypass long range shooting in favor of more precise high yielding finishing inside the box.
Shot Control(Accuracy, Precision, whatever)
When it comes to controlling your shot and placing it where you want to place it, then no one even comes close to Messi. Shot control is very different from ball control. Messi is someone who can actually control where he wants to put the ball from any position. 99 percent of the players, including Ronaldo, have basically learned certain techniques which give them some margin of error over their shots.Due to practicing their techniques like a gazillion times in training, they are able to make it seem like they know where their shots are going.
The Brazillian Ronaldo probably had the most complete shooting technique of all players, of all time. Messi’s is close but he does not have that long shots in his armory. Anyway, when we compare that to C.Ronaldo (i.e Ronaldo) then Messi is way way ahead. Ronaldo cannot score from certain situations as we have seen during his time at Real Madrid. He has learned a lot of different techniques which enables him to score from lots of positions. For example, when he gets the ball on his left foot on the left side of the goal then he always tries to shoot the ball across the goal. Sometimes those shots go to the far post, sometimes between the legs of the keeper and sometimes through the near post.
Not trying to give the impression that he cannot do that but his margin of error is way way more than Messi’s, who seems to know exactly where his shots are going to go. For analogy, Federer has like 3 or 4 shots for every situation to finish off a point with his forehand but Nadal has only 1 or 2 options to finish the point either with his backhand or forehand and that too with a certain margin of error.
Ronaldo and Nadal play high percentage shots. Hit 100 shots in training to the near post and chances are you will get good at scoring at the near post. Federer (in his prime. Obviously not now)and Messi play low percentage shots but are so good that they make those shots seem like high percentage shots.
But if you observe Ronaldo’s shots on goal and the placement of those shots then you would find a clear pattern with little regard of the whereabouts of the goal keeper. He has a lot of power in his shots as stated before, so that also helps him to get away poorly placed shots on goal.
Ronaldo is also restricted in the sense that he has very little side curve on his shots or more like he is unable to put much side spin on his shots. Most of his shots go like popped balloons which I think is a trait he gets naturally. Messi has got a lot of side curve in his shots but most of all, he can control it. He can curve it inside the far post and he can slot straight driven shots into any of the two corners of the goal. That gives Messi a lot of freedom in terms of how he wants certain plays finish when playing for Barcelona. Ronaldo has more steam and less head in that perspective.
Messi also has more control of the flight of his shots. He can make the ball stay low which is the most difficult shot for goalkeepers to defend against. Messi can also put it into top corners but from what I have observed, he seems to think they are less effective as goal keepers have more training in how to stop those kind of shots which go into top corners.
Ronaldo though, has finished a number of goals in a variety of different ways in his career but it can be clearly seen that he has little control over the flight of his shots, especially in pressure situations. He normally just blasts through the ball and that has been working well for him so far, not against side like Bayern Munich though.
Messi has better angles on his shots than Ronaldo. More like outrageously better angles than Ronaldo. Don’t get me wrong, Ronaldo has score from insane angles as well but I like to talk about in terms of control. Ronaldo does not have control over his shots as much as Messi does. Some of the goals Messi scored in 2012-2013 from inside the penalty area had insane angles on them. Sometimes you wonder if other players have been bribed or something as most of the goalkeepers are simply dumbfounded by the variety of shots Messi can come up with and it is his control over his shots which allows Messi to do that to his opponents.
The fact that Messi can chip the ball lights years better than anyone else in the world is a testament to his control over his shots. Ronaldo on the other hand, remarkably, is poor at lobs or chip shots which go over the keeper and into the back of the net.
Number do not really tell the whole story. Ronaldo is much more close to Messi than what the numbers would have you believe. Factors such as the systems in which both players play, how long they have been playing in a certain system or in a certain league is not something I wish to address in this post extensively.
Overall, I would choose Messi over Ronaldo in terms of shooting prowess simply because when Messi scores a goal, you know he meant what he did. When Ronaldo scores, it is more like 90 percent training and 10 percent his own judgement or control over his shots. By no means do I mean to degrade the value of hard work and 10000 hours of training but sometimes ,especially in football, situations come in top flight football where no training can benefit you.
Though it is rather peculiar that both of these players are not very good with the outside sole of their foot. Not that they need that addition or something, but it just goes to show that both still have some areas where they can definitely improve.
This is the first post in the series of posts about Messi vs Ronaldo.