Football

Ronaldo & Messi will fight it out for Ballon d'Or.

Lionel Messi edges out Cristiano Ronaldo in major final performances

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Cristiano Ronaldo may have only played 25 minutes of Portugal's triumphant Euro 2016 final against France on Sunday night, but it was still he who lifted the trophy at the end of the evening.

Collecting Portugal's first major international trophy had a tremendous amount of significance for the 31-year-old, even if he could not make the difference on the pitch, especially in his rivalry with Lionel Messi.

The two juggernauts of world football have shared the FIFA Ballon d'Or trophy every year since its inception and are widely tipped to do it again next January. There have been copious amounts of time spent debating whether it is the natural talent of Messi or the raw power of Ronaldo that trumps the other.

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But winning the European Championship gives Ronaldo something tangible over the Barcelona stalwart. Messi has infamously failed to win anything with Argentina, losing four major finals throughout a bittersweet international career. As it stands, Messi is retired from international duty, meaning he will retire with a major stain on his otherwise immaculate CV.

Why Messi has failed to win anything with a star-studded Argentina side has baffled the footballing world, particularly as they have managed to lose three finals in the last three summers. And baffled you will remain when you compare Messi's statistics to that of Ronaldo's.

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Final comparison

Messi has played 29 finals for club and country and won a spectacular 20 of them. Three UEFA Super Cups, three Club World Cups, Champions League titles, four Copa del Reys and five Spanish Super Cups. That is a win rate of 68.97%, a supreme record, but it pales in comparison to what he managed to do in those finals.

He has scored 24 goals in that time and collected another eight assists. It suggests that Messi is regularly the one that makes the difference in the tight encounters that finals invariably are.

In Portugal, Ronaldo has been unable to enjoy the level of team-mate that Messi has with Argentina but can make no excuse of his shortcomings with Real Madrid.

Ronaldo v Messi

He has, of course, won three of the four Champions League finals he has played in (losing to Barcelona in 2009 with United) and that haul is accompanied by one FA Cup, one Copa del Rey, one Community Shield, one Spanish Super Cup, one UEFA Super Cup, two League Cups and two Club World Cups.

Limited impact

However, while he boasts a bigger trophy cabinet than most, it has rarely been his performances that have made the difference. The 2014 Champions League final is the perfect example. Playing against Atletico Madrid, he scored the fourth goal in a 4-1 win with just seconds to spare. A meaningless goal by anyone's standards but one that goes on his record. 

And that sums him up well. Ronaldo's impact is quite regularly limited to the scoresheet. He rarely contributes in other areas of the field while Messi has time and again proven to be the difference on the biggest stages.

Portugal winning without Ronaldo adds to his impressive record in finals (21 played, 13 won) and no one on that team begrudged him the chance to lift the trophy. Though making no impact on proceedings, he was the man everyone was talking about. Overall, he has just eight goals to show from his 21 finals and a single assist.

Once again, Messi is shining brightest when compared to his alleged nemesis.

Portugal v France - Final: UEFA Euro 2016

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Topics:
La Liga
Real Madrid
Football
Cristiano Ronaldo
Portugal National Football Team
Lionel Messi
Barcelona
Euro 2016
Argentina Football

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