Messi vs. Ronaldo: The Truth Behind the Stats

Messi vs. Ronaldo: The Truth Behind the Stats

- June 29, 2016

Soccer’s Most Famous Rivalry

The Messi vs Ronaldo rivalry is the most heated rivalry in the soccer world. Both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are regarded as two of the best soccer players in the world for their generation. Both have won FIFA Ballon d'Or awards, both have scored two UEFA Champions League finals and both have scored over 400 goals for their club and country.

Soccer is one of the top sports to bet on, so it’s no wonder that fans regularly argue about the merits of these two players in order to determine which is the better player in modern European football. The Messi vs Ronaldo rivalry has been compared to other historical sports rivalries, such as the Björn Borg vs John McEnroe rivalry in tennis and the Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier rivalry in boxing.

When it comes to Messi and Ronaldo, fans talk about physiques, techniques, playing styles, achievements and even personalities. The most common depiction of Ronaldo’s personality is theatrical and arrogant, while Messi is portrayed as the shy and humble character.

Currently, these two behemoths of sport represent rivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid C.F. These two of the wealthiest soccer clubs. Barcelona and Real Madrid face each other at least twice every season for El Clásico, which had a global audience of 400 million viewers in March 2014.

So this is a showdown of the most celebrated soccer players today. We’ll reveal all the figures surrounding their success and you decide which one comes out on top.

Player Profile:

Lionel MessiCristiano Ronaldo
Full NameLionel Andrés "Leo" Messi
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro
Birth PlaceRosario, Argentina
Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
Date of BirthJune, 24 1987 (Age 28)
February, 5 1985 (Age 31)
Height1.7 m (5 ft 7 in)
1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)
Weight67 kg (148 lbs)
84 kg (186 lbs)
Current ClubFC Barcelona
Real Madrid C.F.
Playing PositionForwardForward
National TeamArgentinaPortugal
Previous Clubs
Manchester United

Round 1: Totals

Both Messi and Ronaldo are players to rely on with soccer scoring odds and predictions. In this first round, we have the totals of goals, assists and appearances of Messi and Ronaldo. These figures begin from 2009, when Ronaldo moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid, when both Ronaldo’s and Messi’s senior careers took off.

All Competitions (Excluding Country)


La Liga


Champions League


Other Cups (Copa Del Rey, Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup)


It seems that in this round, Messi has the upper hand, albeit slightly. The number of goals, however, is not the only criteria we have to determine who is better. Next, we take on the club and individual honours of these two players.

Round 2: Messi vs Ronaldo All Time Trophies

For the second round, here are the club honours and individual honours received by Messi and Ronaldo. The club honours are championship titles from the Spanish Super Cup, Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and others, as well as the FA Cup and La Liga sponsored by Bet365 Sports. You can sign up for Bet365 for the live streaming of the latest soccer tournaments.

For this round, individual honours are specific to the most prestigious ones: the FIFA Ballon d’Or and European Golden Shoe. They have, of course, won other awards and accolades that recognise their skill and passion for soccer. Messi has won the most number of Ballon d’Or awards in history (5 awards). Messi also holds the Guinness World Record for scoring the most number of goals (91) in a calendar year.

Ronaldo has three Ballon d’Or awards. He is also the only player in history to have won four European Golden Shoe awards with two different clubs. So when it comes to betting on soccer matches, choosing Ronaldo as a key player would be a great idea.

Here are the club honours and individual honours of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The individual honours are in bold.

YearLionel MessiCristiano
FA Cup
2004-2005La Liga
2005-2006Champions League, La Liga, Spanish Super Cup
League Cup
2006-2007Spanish Super Cup
Premier League
European Golden Shoe, Champions League, Premier League, Community Shield
2008-2009Champions League, La Liga, Copa del Rey
Ballon d’Or, Premier League, League Cup, Community Shield, Club World Cup
2009-2010Ballon d’Or, European Golden Shoe, La Liga, Uefa Super Cup, Spanish Super Cup, Club World Cup

2010-2011Ballon d’Or, Champions League, La Liga, Spanish Super Cup
European Golden Shoe, Copa del Rey
2011-2012Ballon d’Or, European Golden Shoe, Copa del Rey, Uefa Super Cup, Spanish Super Cup, Club World Cup
La Liga
2012-2013Ballon d’Or, European Golden Shoe, La Liga
Spanish Super Cup
2013-2014Spanish Super Cup
Ballon d’Or, European Golden Shoe, Champions League, Copa del Rey
2014-2015Ballon d’Or, European Golden Shoe, Champions League, Copa del Rey
Ballon d’Or, European Golden Shoe, Uefa Super Cup, Club World Cup
2015-2016Ballon d’Or, Uefa Super Cup, Club World Cup

Lionel Messi won the World Cup Golden Ball in 2014 for the FIFA World Cup in recognition of his fantastic performance for his country, Argentina. Then FIFA president Sepp Blatter was asked about his view on the Messi vs Ronaldo rivalry, and he commented that Messi will “always get a lot of votes because he plays well and scores goals.” He also said Ronaldo “is like a commander on the field of play. This is the other side of football and it's good to have commanders on the field. They don’t have the same attitude and that gives life to football. One has more expenses for the hairdresser than the other but that doesn't matter. I can't say who is the best. I like both of them, but I prefer Messi.”

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Round 3: Abilities and Ratings

Talking about the players’ live soccer scores is typical, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, fans discuss about the specific abilities that Messi and Ronaldo have. Both players have shown incredible talent when it comes to playing on the field, but what about their specific soccer skills? For Round 3, we will have nine different categories of soccer skills. The results and ratings are drawn from a soccer sports website dedicated to the Messi vs Ronaldo rivalry. Are you ready?

1) Goalscoring

Lionel MessiCristiano Ronaldo
It appears as if Messi can break all kinds of goalscoring records. He broke Gerd Muller’s 39 year record for the most goals scored in a single season and became Barcelona's new all-time leading scorer. Last season, he also became the all-time leading scorer in La Liga. It cannot be denied that Messi is a great goalscorer and will no doubt break more records throughout his career.
Ronaldo is also considered one of the best goalscorers of all time. In fact, Ronaldo finished ahead of Messi in last season’s scoring charts, totalling 48 league goals in just 35 appearances for 2014-2015. He also has an incredible goal scoring ratio of 1.11 goals per game in La Liga. Since arriving at Real Madrid, he has tallied 225 league goals in 200 games by the end of the 2014-2015 season. 
Score: 10/10
Score: 10/10

2) Heading

Lionel MessiCristiano Ronaldo
Due to Messi’s lack of height, heading is one of the few things that cannot be considered a world class skill for him. He is, however, far from poor with his head, and when there are opportunities for a decent heading, he goes for it.
Ronaldo has the height and build for an excellent heading. He has elegant skills and technique as well, enabling him to leap and power his head through the ball. In the 2014-2015 season, he headed home 17 of the 61 goals.
Score: 7/10
Score: 9/10

3) Dribbling

Lionel MessiCristiano Ronaldo
Messi is arguably one of the best if not the best dribbler of all time. His lightning quick feet enable him to enter a crowd of players and come out the other side with the ball still magically glued to his feet. His small build and subsequent low centre of gravity are what allow him to travel fast with the ball. He has tallied a total of 986 successful dribbles.
Ronaldo is also a great dribbler, although this skill has utilised more when he used to play as an out-and-out winger who went to run at and terrorise defenders. Now that he has adapted more of a centre forward role, he has not shown much of his dribbling on the field. Ronaldo’s dribbling is often described as explosive, in contrast to Messi’s that is described more as intricate. Ronaldo tallied a total of 431 successful dribbles.
Score: 10/10
Score: 8/10

4) Passing

Lionel MessiCristiano Ronaldo
Messi’s vision and execution for a teammate is excellent. Pass completion rates in Barca are always high, but with 1313 passes completed in La Liga in 2014-2015 and a completion rate of 82.2%, Messi’s passing skills are impressive indeed. His curved diagonal ball from non-threatening situations produced a number of goals last season.
It might be a little unfair to compare Ronaldo’s passing skills to Messi’s, because unlike Barcelona’s philosophy of intricate passing football, Real Madrid are all about fast-paced and explosive attacking football. Nevertheless, Ronaldo is also excellent in this skill. He recorded a personal pass completion rate of 81.3%, having made a total of 654 passes throughout the season.
Score: 9/10
Score: 8/10

5) Free Kicks

Lionel MessiCristiano Ronaldo
What sets Messi apart from other free kick specialists is his vision and creativity. His success rate for direct free kicks is 7.2%, largely due to his ability to identify a spot and a route that eludes all opposing players. He perhaps lacks the force that Ronaldo can get behind a ball, but his finesse is what makes his free kicks special to watch.
It is Ronaldo’s combination of ability and power that make him a feared dead ball specialist. There are very few to can match the strength and speed of his trademark stance over a dead ball. Unfortunately, this strength sometimes goes too far to sail over the bar or strike the wall. Ronaldo’s success rate of direct free kicks is 6.7%
Score: 9/10
Score: 8/10

6) Penalties

Lionel MessiCristiano Ronaldo
Recently, Messi’s penalty record has had some setbacks. As of September 2015, he has missed 16 of the 79 penalties he has taken for club and country. His current penalty conversion rate is 86.1%
Since Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid, he has bagged 51 out of the 56 penalties taken in the Champions League and La Liga. He has an impressive penalty conversion rate of 90.4%
Score: 7/10
Score: 9/10

7) Physicality

Lionel MessiCristiano Ronaldo
Physicality is the area that Messi is usually critiqued about. At 5 feet 7 inches, he is obviously not the tallest of the players. In his younger days, he was in real physical danger of being overlooked because of his build. Luckily for him and the soccer world, he possesses natural talent and is perfectly capable of holding his own against his larger opponents on the field.
When it comes to physicality, Ronaldo is as close to perfection as it gets for a soccer player. At 6 feet 2 inches, he’s in impeccable shape. What Ronaldo may lack in technique and vision, he makes up for speed, strength and power.
Score: 7/10
Score: 10/10

8) Team Play

Lionel MessiCristiano Ronaldo
Messi has a great reputation as a team player and is rarely accused of holding onto the ball longer than he should have. Messi and Ronaldo have a very closely matched scoring record, but when it comes to assists, there is a gap that is in Messi’s favour. In the 2014-2015 season, Messi’s link up play with Neymar and Suarez reached new heights. The three athletes seemed to settle on the exact same wavelength. Audiences see Messi’s unselfish side because he would often pass up on a scoring opportunity to gift a teammate an easier chance.
Ronaldo has often been the subject of frustration for both teammates and fans because he is often guilty of trying to handle the ball on his own for too long, even if passing might have been the better option. Despite this, Ronaldo is still a great team member and has a healthy assist record. It is only when he is compared to Messi in this aspect that he falls a bit short.
Score: 9/10
Score: 7/10

9) Discipline

Lionel MessiCristiano Ronaldo
Due to Messi’s skill and lighting quick feet, he has kicked and hacked countless times. When some players would go down, he often does everything he can to stay on his feet and continue with the attack. He is, of course, far from perfect and can show frustration and petulance at times. Messi came out of the 2014-2015 season with 3 yellow cards to his name in La Liga.
Ronaldo has received criticism for going down too easily or even feigning injury for the benefit of his club. His fans would argue that this is only because of his passion for the game, and that his passion sometimes gets the better of him when decisions do not go his way. He finished the 2014-2015 season with 5 yellow cards and 1 red card in La Liga.
Score: 8/10
Score: 6/10

10) Conclusion

Lionel MessiCristiano Ronaldo

The final tally of the scores only show how close these two players are. Messi dropped points in physicality which lead to his lower points in heading, strength and power. He does, however, have higher points in the areas of technique and his natural ability to handle the ball, as well as his effectiveness as part of a team. Ronaldo dropped points when it came to team play, but has high points for his strength and ability as a centre forward and striker. One thing’s for sure, if you want to know how to bet on soccer games and win, you can at the very least start with these two. Because when it comes to skill, there is little doubt that these two players will go down in history as two of soccer’s all-time greats.

Round 5: Income and Social Media Affluence

Both Ronaldo and Messi are known to be two of the highest paid athletes in the world, cashing in at more than US$70 million. They have major sponsors, of course. But these two also support charities, foundations and people in need.

Lionel MessiCristiano Ronaldo
Wealth (Salary + Bonus + Off-Field Earnings)
US$73.8 million
US$79.6 million
Major Sponsors
Turkish Airlines, Adidas, Gillette, EA, Pepsico
Fly Emirates, Tag Heuer, Herbalife, Toyota, Samsung, Nike
Game CoversPES 09, PES 10, PES 11, FIFA Street 12, FIFA 13, FIFA 14, FIFA 15, FIFA 16
Heads Up With Cristiano, FIFA Street, PES 08, PES 12, PES 13
DonationsLeo Messi Foundation (for vulnerable children), UNICEF, Youth academy and Childrens’ Hospital at Rosario
2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Cancer hospital in Madeira, Schools in Gaza, Mangrove Care Forum in Indonesia

It’s not only because of live scores that these two are so popular. When it comes to social media affluence, Ronaldo and Messi have amassed more the 50 million followers on their respective Facebook pages.

Lionel MessiCristiano Ronaldo
Facebook82.6 million109 million
TwitterNo official account on Twitter40 million
Instagram34.9 million46 million


When Cristiano Ronaldo himself was asked about the Messi vs Ronaldo Rivalry, he said, “You cannot compare a Ferrari with a Porsche because it's a different engine. You cannot compare them. He does the best things for Barcelona, I do the best things for Madrid.”

It’s undeniable that Ronaldo is an excellent member of Real Madrid and Messi an excellent member of Barcelona. But we can’t help but wonder who will outshine the other. So with all these figures and facts, is Ronaldo is better and Messi or Messi is better than Ronaldo? We surely have a few more years to watch and analyse and speculate who will ultimately earn the title of the best soccer player in the world. With soccer being the best sports to bet on today, the excitement surrounding this rivalry will only grow greater.

Ronaldo also mentioned that he hopes he and Messi can laugh about the Rivalry in the years to come, stating: “We have to look on this rivalry with a positive spirit, because it's a good thing.” And indeed, it is a good thing. This rivalry has made soccer for this generation the most exciting sport there is today.

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Brodey Sheppard

Brodey Sheppard

Brodey Sheppard’s interest in keeping up with the ‘bleeding edge’ of technology has kept him working in the digital marketing industry for over six years. Aside from searching for opportunities to increase his online marketing knowledge, Sam also scours the Internet for useful bonuses and coupon codes that he can use to fuel his love for photography. During his free time, he watches professional photo retouching tutorials in between streaming his favourite TV shows. Fun fact: Sam has never met a cupcake he didn't like.