The statistical answer to Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi for the last 10 seasons

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Just the utterance of Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi is bound to divide a room of football fans.

The happy coincidence that two of the greatest footballers in history are sharing the same era has been a constant cause for debate and the split is almost 50:50.

Whenever news breaks about either player, it only takes one supporter to spark a fascinating back and forth that boils down to the question of: who is the greatest?

There are sound arguments for players like Pele and Diego Maradona, but the debate has now transitioned to our contemporaries and even then, you can still debate the best player of this era.

The answer to Messi vs Ronaldo will, of course, always be a subjective one. Both players have reached a plane of brilliance where it would be unfair to decide that one was better than the other.

Ronaldo vs Messi

However, that doesn't stop the intrigue of finding different ways of simplifying the debate, hauling in data to try and establish a concrete answer.

That's easier said than done when you consider how close both players are for career goals, assists and even Ballon d'Or victories.

But Whoscored.com allows football fans to gobble up almost every data set imaginable, eventually producing a match rating built from defensive, offensive and passing statistics. 

Real Madrid v Barcelona - La Liga

Stats since 2009

By default, that allows us to compare Ronaldo and Messi to a remarkable level of detail and we've decided to do just that for the last 10 seasons.

Taking their average match rating across the previous ten campaigns - their final scores have been compared against one another down below:

2018/19 (so far) 

Lionel Messi - 8.5
Cristiano Ronaldo - 7.8

2017/18

Lionel Messi - 8.7
Cristiano Ronaldo - 7.9

2016/17

Lionel Messi - 8.5
Cristiano Ronaldo - 7.6 

FC Barcelona v RCD Espanyol - La Liga

2015/16

Lionel Messi - 8.5
Cristiano Ronaldo - 8.0

2014/15

Lionel Messi - 8.8
Cristiano Ronaldo - 8.5

2013/14

Lionel Messi - 8.3
Cristiano Ronaldo - 8.3 

2012/13

Lionel Messi - 8.8
Cristiano Ronaldo - 8.2

Argentina v Portugal - International Friendly

2011/12

Lionel Messi - 8.9
Cristiano Ronaldo - 8.3

2010/11

Lionel Messi - 8.8
Cristiano Ronaldo - 8.3

2009/10

Lionel Messi - 8.7
Cristiano Ronaldo - 8.5

Barcelona v Dynamo Kiev - UEFA Champions League

Messi 9.5-0.5 Ronaldo

Can we get a mic drop for Messi?

As far as the statistics are concerned, it's an absolute whitewash for the Barcelona man who has produced better data than Ronaldo in every single season other than 2013/14.

Even that anomaly didn't see Ronaldo overcome him, though, with both superstars settling for an average match rating of 8.3.

The statistics will lean slightly in Messi's favour because of his greater contribution in terms of assists and passing but even then, his margin of victory is usually pretty substantial.

And while no set of numbers will put the debate to rest, the disparity is just too sizeable to ignore in this instance. 

FBL-ESP-CUP-BARCELONA-REAL MADRID

Take from it what you like but it seems, if nothing else, that Messi's style of play is the biggest winner when it comes to ticking boxes and creating stats.

Who do you think is the greatest player of all time? Have your say in the comments section below.

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