Best forward in the world- Messi or Ronaldo?


 The best forward in the world

Time to settle the debate once and for all! Every time the Messi-Ronaldo debate gets started people tend to get very opinionated, which is partly because these two fine gentlemen happen to be playing for the two teams that arguably have the most intense and colorful football rivalry in existence. In this article, an attempt will be made to compare the two players qualitatively and quantitatively.

Let’s get the numbers out of the way first. For obvious reasons, the best way to compare these two living legends statistically is to focus on the club numbers from 2009 onward (2009 was the year Ronaldo made his move to Madrid). This way we can achieve maximum cohesion from the statistics since both will be competing in the same competition.


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Messi´s imposing 336 goals in those six years slightly outnumber Ronaldo’s 318. However, the Portuguese only needed 303 matches versus Messi’s 327, meaning he has a slightly higher goal-per-match rate of 1.05 compared to the Argentinian’s 1.03 at the time of writing. However, Leo has significantly more assists with 121 vs CR7’s 85.

Turning to some other interesting numbers, Messi appears to be the superior passer; since 2009, his pass completion rate in La Liga and the Champions League is at an astounding 85.1% while Ronaldo’s is at 79.6%. However, Ronaldo is, unsurprisingly, way better in the air, winning 1.4 aerial duels compared to Messi’s unimpressive 0.2 ratio.

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Living legends  

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 However, the greatest of debates cannot be settled by solely using numbers, especially when those stats are so close to one another. When determining who is the best forward in the world, it is clear that the term “best” needs to be defined accurately. If one was to define it simply as making the most goals-per-match it would not only be fragmentary, but very unromantic at that. Clearly, there is a need to incorporate other qualities if one is to adopt a more complete definition.

Before we get on to that; one factor undoubtedly influences the opinion on the two greats for many people; their personalities. Off the pitch, the companies that they are endorsed by hint at some more of their preferred ways of spending their pastimes;

Many discussions about the comparison of the two include descriptions and examples about the on-pitch behavior as well. Since this is an article about who is the best attacking footballer, these factors will not be considered as relevant. Put it this way: should one consider a person’s personality in judging his performance on the pitch? Most will agree that it should clearly not. Many great footballers like Eric Cantona and Diego Maradona had unlikable characteristics, but that should not take anything away from their qualities as footballers. Conversely, personal characteristics that are deemed positive are inapt in this discussion as well for the same reason so all in all, personality is completely irrelevant to this discussion and it is rather surprising that many who-is-the-better-player-discussions keep including them.

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Physical attributes, however, do play a significant role. Most will agree that CR7 has superior strength compared to Leo, but he undoubtedly makes up for it by being considered more technically gifted in contrast to the Portuguese. In turn, Ronaldo counterbalances for that by being faster than his arch rival, but then again few would claim he has higher acceleration than the Argentinian.  

Hard to catch 

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 Where does all of this leave us? Frankly, at the risk of producing an anti-climax to this article, it is a matter of taste. While some might be convinced in Ronaldo’s superiority because of his strength and aerial capabilities, others might attach more value to the much smoother technique of the short Argentinian. In the end, it will all come down to how ‘best’ is defined in this context, and the topic will probably still spark up intense discussions generations from now. Nevertheless, hopefully everybody can agree on the fact that it is an absolute pleasure to watch both of these two heroes work their magic for some years to come.

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