This week saw the announcement of the three-man shortlist for the European Footballer of the Year award (The Ballon d’Or), which includes Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Bayern Munich’s Frank Ribery and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
The debate which separates the hearts of football fans and friends alike surfaces once again: who is better Messi or Ronaldo?
Ronaldo is many people’s favourite to win the Ballon d’Or this year with a continuous display of amazing performances for both club and country.
The Portugal captain started his amazing playing carer as a youth player playing for Andorinha, where he played for two years before moving to C.D. Nacional. Then in 1997, he made is first major move to sporting giants Sporting Clube de Portugal. Six years later, however, he was on the move again - but this time to one of the biggest clubs in the world: Manchester United.
Ronaldo’s raw talent and fancy foot work are what caught the attention of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, they signed him for a fee of £12.24m in 2003. The confident youngster settled in well at United and enjoyed a glorious spell at the club winning the Champions League and the Premier League, as well as an array of personal accomplishments including the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year.
He then made a move to Real Madrid for a fee of £80m, where he remains as their talisman and fifth all time top goalscorer.
His goalscoring ability is truly phenomenal and this is mirrored by his record of 163 league goals in 149 games for Real Madrid and a total of 350 carer goals in 529 games.
This season is no different, with a total goal tally of seventeen goals in fourteen matches in La Liga. Ronaldo leads the way as the league’s top goalscorer. His knack for finding the back of the net is also reflected in the Champions League with the Portuguese powerhouse racking up a total of nine goals, the most so far in this year’s competition, his closest competitor being Zlatan Ibrahimovic with eight.
This is not the only battle he has had this season with the big Swede, the two have clashed before, this time at international in a World Cup qualifier between Portugal and Sweden. CR7 found himself victor once more. His emphatic hat-trick against Zlatan’s Sweden side fired Portugal into next year’s World Cup and even Ibrahimovic was found applauding after his third goal.
His incredible footwork, explosive power and lightening quick speed have seen him become one of the most feared attacking players in the world. However, this does not all just come naturally and Ronaldo is one of the first to admit that his success is based on a foundation of intense training and commitment to the sport. Through this dedication and hard work Ronaldo has managed to moulded himself into not just a talented footballer but an immense athlete.
In a recent sports science study conducted on Madrid’s star man by Castrol Edge and hosted by football consultant Andy Ansah, CR7 was able to show exactly why he is superior to so many other players.
The study consisted of a range of different tests of Ronaldo’s technical ability and physical ability, including a race against professional sprinter Angel David Rodriguez. The results are amazing, the study shows Ronaldo to be physically incredible as well as technically brilliant. One test shows Ronaldo to be able to jump higher than an average NBA basketball player (78cm), another shows him to be able to strike a football from a dead ball position at a whopping 80mph.
Despite Ronaldo’s amazing goal scoring ability and elite athleticism, there is another man who many favour as the best player in the world and even the best player of all time. That man is Lionel Messi.
Born in Rosario, Argentina Messi’s first played for a club name Newll’s Old Boys, here even at a young age is exceptional talent was quickly recognised. However, Messi had one problem, he size.
The small boy was missing a genetic hormone in his body which prevented his normal growth, the hormone could be created but at an expensive cost of around $1000 per month which Newell’s Old Boy’s or later River Plate could afford to pay for a boy so young. His family believed in the young talent which was Lionel Messi and invested their money in the treatment, which led to Messi being scouted by FC Barcelona’s youth academy.
After a period of indecisiveness about offering Messi a contract and taking a risk with such a young boy, Barcelona decided to offer him a contract which included payment for his treatment. He entered a youth team along side the likes of Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas where he excelled greatly at every stage of the Barcelona academy.
His dazzling close control and dribbling skills made him the stand out player of the youth team and in the 2002/03 season he scored 40 times, including an incident where he played for the Cadete age group in a Copa Catalunya final scoring twice with a fractured cheekbone.
Messi scored his first goal for the Barcelona team against Albacete at the Nou Camp in 2005 and has never looked back since. The little magician, famous for his delightful dribbling, un-matched close control and sublime finishing, like Ronaldo also has an amazing goal record. Messi has scored 327 total carer goals in 395 carer appearances, 223 of these coming in La Liga since his debut.
He also holds the record for the most Champions League hat-tricks with a running total of four compared with Ronaldo’s three. At the age of twenty six, Messi’s carer is decorated with achievements both personally and at club level, his unique ability has lead to him receiving the Ballon d’Or a record four times as well as the European Golden Shoe on three separate occasions.
One of the key reasons why Messi seems to be favoured as the better player of the pair and consequently the best player in the world is his ability to ‘go one better’ than Ronaldo.
Each season, Ronaldo produces astonishing performance after astonishing performance, scoring ridiculous amounts (E.g. Ronaldo has scored more than fifty goals per season for the last three seasons) and subsequently earning his team a vast amount of points.
This alone is a great achievement and without a doubt puts him up with the football greats of all time. However, each time Ronaldo seems to score Messi will match it or better still score two. He has scored more goals than Ronaldo has for the previous five seasons, also providing more assists for his team and it seems like there is nothing Ronaldo can do to stop him.
Nonetheless, this season with Messi suffering from a recurring hamstring injury Ronaldo has seized at his opportunity with both hands. Thanks to his outstanding physicality Ronaldo has been able to stay fit for longer and recover quicker when Messi hasn’t always been able to.
He has scored twelve more goals than Messi this season and has one more assist having only played three an extra three games.
As we wait for the little Argentine to return, are the tables starting to change in Ronaldo’s favour?
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