As we begin the countdown to another instalment of El Clasico, the clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain, it’s worth looping back to the ‘Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo’ debate.
In fact, the more pertinent question may be whether there is even a debate left to have concerning Planet Football’s two most prestigious protagonists.
Both have hit the ground running again from the start of this season, not that we should be surprised. Cristiano Ronaldo seems intent on obliterating the La Liga goals in a season record of 50 (coincidentally set by Messi), after already hitting 13 in the first seven games.
Messi himself is only three away from setting a new all-time mark. Telmo Zarra’s 60-year record, which many thought was untouchable until these two arrived on the scene, will be toppled in the next few games.
Indeed, it’s doubtful that many will have even known who Zarra was, but such is the impact on the Spanish game that both Messi and Ronaldo have. Wouldn’t it just be perfect football theatre for the diminutive No.10 to break it in the back yard of Barca’s fiercest rivals, in the company of nemesis Ronaldo.
Both keep breaking records for fun and it’s easy to make light of their achievements. When the extraordinary becomes the routine, supporters turn their attention to raising the bar higher still, and somehow finding disappointment when either player has an off day.
But what exactly are the expectations here?
Where else will you find a player that hits three hat-tricks in 15 days. A player that has scored against every other league team consecutively. Two players that have scored or assisted in hundreds of goals in only a few years duration.
The comparisons between the two are endless with anyone able to massage the figures to their own ends. Come up with five reasons why Messi is the better player and it’s a relatively easy exercise to come up with five to counteract that argument. And vice versa.
The point is that doing so is wholly unnecessary and really anathema to a reasoned debate.
Seven years left
In about seven years or thereabouts, Ronaldo will have already retired and Messi will have been put out to pasture at Newell’s Old Boys to finish his career.
Think about that for a moment: arguably the two best players to have played the game in the modern era will be gone. Rather than witter on incessantly about who is better, why not sit back,relax and enjoy the show.
After all, we all know you don’t realise what you have until it’s gone.