Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo: Comparing their stats in games against each other

Real Madrid v Barcelona - La Liga

Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo will be discussed by sporting historians for decades to come.

Everyone has their own idea of who football's greatest ever player truly is, but seldom has there even been two stars of Messi and Ronaldo's quality within the same generation.

Had either player had the luxury of dominating an entire 10-year spell unchallenged, they would have hoovered up every Ballon d'Or available and practically become a sporting god.

However, the fact both players have been going head-to-head for so long has - by their own admission - motivated them to improve their games more than they might have done otherwise.

In other words, we arguably have the Messi vs Ronaldo debate to thank for both athletes pushing each other to keep raising the bar higher.

Ronaldo vs Messi rivalry

But how have people tried to settle the argument? Well, the answer will always be a subjective one, but that hasn't stopped supporters from trawling through statistics to try and get the upper hand.

There are so many data-sets you can utilise across countless competitions and eras in order to give either Ronaldo or Messi the advantage depending on your narrative.

And as for the major career stats that are plastered over websites and newspapers every other week, well, they're just not surprising to football fans anymore.

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid CF - La Liga

Messi vs Ronaldo head-to-head

So, that goes us thinking here at GIVEMESPORT and one interesting way to put Messi vs Ronaldo under the microscope is by comparing their performances when they shared the pitch together.

All in all, the sporting legends have come into direct competition 35 times during their careers - 30 of which came in El Classico ties - and there's a clear winner when you isolate those matches.

Using the extensive stats on michelacosta.com, the self-proclaimed largest statistical study of Ronaldo vs Messi on the internet, we can clearly see that Messi has the advantage.

The Argentine has scored 22 goals, provided 11 assists and won 16 of the matches he's played against Ronaldo who, by contrast, has scored 19 times, produced one assist and won 10 games.

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Messi holds the advantage

This gives Messi a far superior rate of a goal every 138 minutes and 41 seconds, whereas Ronaldo is trailing on a strike every 153 minutes and 19 seconds.

Messi chipped in with an assist every 254 minutes and 15 seconds, while Ronaldo finds himself lightyears behind with just one every 2,913 minutes or the equivalent of TWO DAYS.

That gives Messi an overall record of a goal contribution every 89 minutes and 44 seconds(!?) compared to Ronaldo's final statistic of a rather paltry-looking 145 minutes and 39 seconds.

So, yeh, it would be fair to say that Messi has had the rub of green in his clashes with Ronaldo. 

Real Madrid CF v FC Barcelona - La Liga

Who is the greatest?

Of course, it could be argued that Messi had a better team around him during those games, but Ronaldo was also appearing in Real sides that were lapping up Champions League crowns.

And besides, Messi even has a better goal contribution rate in the two games he's played against Ronaldo internationally as well as in games between Manchester United and Barcelona.

Like just about every statistic in the debate, it's by no means perfect, but it shows Messi vs Ronaldo is pretty simple to answer whenever they're sharing the same pitch.

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