Cristiano Ronaldo continued his great individual battle with Lionel Messi last night, scoring twice for Real Madrid in a 5-1 win over Real Sociedad.
The brace moved the Portuguese winger onto 101 La Liga goals in just 92 games, thus breaking the Spanish record as the fastest player to reach a century of goals domestically in the top flight.
Ronaldo’s staggering achievement saw him surpass Madrid legend Ferenc Puskas, who reached three figures in 105 games during his period of dominance at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The landmark comes less than a week after great rival Messi stole the headlines at Barcelona, when the Argentine international broke the club’s 232-goal scoring record against Granada.
Intriguingly, with Messi also scoring against Real Mallorca last night, the pair sit level on 35 league goals this season – just five short of the single season record set by Ronaldo last season.
What makes this personal fight so good is that each player is currently at the peak of their powers during a season of stunning rivalry between Europe’s two best clubs.
All logic suggests that Madrid and Barca will go head-to-head in the Champions League final in May, whilst the La Liga title race seems back on with only six points separating the pair and a clash at the Nou Camp still to come next month.
In many ways, this individual battle is a microcosm of the two teams’ fight for success.
Messi, the darling of world football, has won the FIFA Ballon d’Or on three consecutive occasions, with goals now consecutively added to a quite breathtaking style of play. He is the perfect pin-up for Barcelona’s style of play, which has accumulated into multiple trophies.
Ronaldo, the most expensive footballer on the planet, is often regarded as the second to Messi, despite his increasingly spectacular goalscoring record. Like Jose Mourinho’s side, he’s often the bridesmaid when it comes to individual honours and team trophies too.
But this season could be different. This season, it might just be Ronaldo’s year. After breaking the great La Liga record, he’s well on the way to securing his legacy both in Spain and across the globe.
Additionally, he’s also proved his ability in the Premier League, showing he can deliver the goods in Europe’s two toughest divisions. Whether Messi will leave the Nou Camp in an effort to achieve such a feat in the future remains to be seen.
It’s the potential success over Barca which is most exciting for Ronaldo in the Spanish capital though, and despite a couple of recent draws, Madrid still hold a significant advantage as they look to wrestle the league crown away from the Blaugrana.
Success in the Champions League could be the significant barometer though, with a huge television audience potentially tuning in for the battle between football’s two biggest names – both team and individual - at the Allianz Arena in Munich.
Of course, when the two players met in a European Cup final before, Messi won the day as Barca beat Manchester United 2-0 in 2009.
And, when Ronaldo’s faced-off against Barcelona with Madrid, he’s predominantly been on the losing side when faced with the challenge of Pep Guardiola’s free-flowing outfit.
But, as mentioned earlier, this could be different. This could be Ronaldo’s year. And, if it is, then the plaudits should be even greater than those lavished on Messi, who has achieved such greatness alongside an incredible supporting cast of Spanish internationals.
That’s not to say that Madrid struggle for players outside of Ronaldo, with Gonzalo Higuain, Karim Benzema and Kaka just three fine examples of the quality at ‘the special one’s’ disposal.
Simply put, this season has seen two of the best teams of all time, containing two of the best players of all time, go head-to-head in a number of competitions.
Whilst football is a team game, it often produces great individual battles within a match, and there is no greater fight at this present time than Ronaldo v Messi. Let’s hope it continues to deliver the absolute best.
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