Cristiano Ronaldo may have won back-to-back FIFA Ballon d'Or awards, but his major rival, Lionel Messi, had his say against the Portuguese-man after displaying one of the best performances of his career in the Champions League semi-final first leg against Bayern Munich.
Barcelona edged closer to the Champions League final on Wednesday night as they battered Bayern Munich 3-0 at the Nou Camp. It was a thrilling game to watch, as mentioned by Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp at half-time, but it just needed a goal.
It took the home side 77 minutes to open the scoring, but it was well worth the wait as Lionel Messi weaved his way in and out of the helpless Munich defenders before unleashing a blazing strike into the bottom corner. Many were critical of Manuel Neuer, but upon further review it was apparent that the formidable German shot-stopper was beaten by the ball bouncing just before meeting his palms.
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However, it was the Argentine's second goal just three minutes later that really got everyone talking. Social media exploded when Messi's blinding dribbling left Jerome Boateng on his backside and Manuel Neuer stranded as the 27-year-old deftly chipped the ball over the keeper.
To round off an unmistakable night, the magician played a delightful through ball to Neymar who went on to slot home a late goal to see off the Bundesliga champions.
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Why is Messi better than Ronaldo?
When was the last time you saw Cristiano Ronaldo score a good goal? Just take a few minutes and think about that. The last time we saw Lionel Messi score a good goal was on Wednesday night. In fact, both were outstanding.
The famous saying goes "the stats don't lie," but in this case, they do. Ronaldo has scored 54 goals in 50 games across all competitions as opposed to Messi's 53 in 51. How many of those goals has Ronaldo put in with his head from close range? Why aren't we seeing the 30-year-old scoring soaring free-kicks from 30-yards out? We keep asking the questions and Ronaldo still isn't providing the answers. Could the current Ballon d'Or winner really be past his "use-by date"?
Barcelona's one and only hero is still scoring from long range, he is still leaving his fans speechless and he is still the creator of the impossible that nobody would think to try. Take his second goal against Bayern Munich for example. Can you think of one player that is skillful enough to plant a man of Jerome Boateng's build onto his backside before having the courage to chip the "best goalkeeper in the world" as Manuel Neuer is so wrongly dubbed.
Is Ronaldo becoming too old?
Cristiano Ronaldo is certainly no stranger to football. Having made an unbelievable 425 appearances for club and country, it certainly wouldn't be stupid to admit that the 30-year-old is coming of age and may be wearing away.
Whilst Lionel Messi is still progressing through the peak of his career, Ronaldo is desperately trying to keep up with his arch rival, so much so that he is tiring himself out.
What is baffling me, however, is that I have rarely seen the best players fade at the end of their careers. If anything, they have performed better because they want to go out on a high.
Paul Scholes and Gary Neville are prime examples of this. They kept on going, fulfilling their roles until time was finally up. Cristiano Ronaldo's job is to score fabulous goals. Is he doing that? No is the answer.
Should Ronaldo be thinking about retirement?
Retirement shouldn't be on Ronaldo's mind just yet although thinking about moving to a smaller club should. Players like David Beckham and Thierry Henry ended their careers in the MLS. That is where I think Ronaldo should go as opposed to his preferred option of returning to his homeland of Portugal.
Next season may be Cristiano Ronaldo's last season at the Santiago Bernabeu and I'm hoping that he goes out with a bang, but one thing's for sure - Lionel Messi will always be better.
Who do you think is the greatest? Have your say in the comments section below!
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