Supercomputer settles the Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo debate


Messi or Ronaldo. Who you got?

It’s the biggest debate in football. And everyone has their preference.

In the blue corner sits Messi. The Barcelona star is a pure genius and a genuine gift to football.

In the red is Ronaldo, the hardest-working player in the game. Combining immense talent with physical excellence, he’s truly one of a kind.

It’s hard to determine the better player using their career accomplishments.

Messi has won six Ballon d'Or awards, Ronaldo has five. Both are the all-time record goalscorers at Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.

But a group of computer scientists from Belgium claim to have found the definitive formula to determine who the better player is.


Messi vs Ronaldo debate settled?

Per Sporza in Belgium, professors at KU Leuven university have teamed up with Dutch data experts SciSports to come up with something called Valuing Actions by Estimating Probabilities (VAEP), which can apparently settle the Messi vs Ronaldo debate.

The formula considers the players’ all-round games and also takes into account their contributions on the pitch in both attacking and defensive roles.

“The value of a soccer player is often determined by goals and assists," Jesse Davis, a professor at the university, said.

"A goal is a rare event, however, because an average of 1,600 actions are estimated to occur in a match.

“Our model looks at each action - shots, passes, dribbles, tackles - and calculates its value."


They analysed data from the 2013-14 season up to Ronaldo’s Real Madrid departure at the end of 2017-18.

And who came out on top? Messi. And it wasn’t close.

The Barcelona star had a VAEP score of 1.21 per game, compared to Ronaldo’s 0.61.

"In the first seasons, Messi and Ronaldo's scores are very close to each other," PhD student Tom Decroos, who helped with the research, said.

"From the 2015/16 season, Messi has stepped away from his eternal rival."


Decroos went on to explain how Messi differs from some of the best players in the world today.

"We see a trade-off with most football players: either they make a lot of actions with a less high value - that's the case with Paul Pogba, for example," he added.

"Or you have players who are less likely to hit the ball, but who have a big impact. That is typical of strikers like Harry Kane, Mohamed Salah and Ronaldo.

"Messi is exceptional in this area: the Argentinian has a very high number of actions and they also have a high value."

So there you go. Messi fans, you can now use the results of a supercomputer to support your argument.

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