Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi: The statistical answer every season since 2010

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Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo is the sporting gift that keeps on giving.

The pair of superstars have long established themselves as two of the greatest sportspeople of all and football fans have been blessed to see them sharing a pitch on so many occasions.

The nine years where Ronaldo was played with Real Madrid, in particular, pitted two superstars against one another on a consistent basis never seen before in the beautiful game.

It was a perfect scenario that would have been tantamount to Pele and Diego Maradona sharing the same era, so it's perhaps no surprise that the debate between them never seems to end.

And although we're unsure whether their inevitable retirements will really end the bickering, at least it will freeze their statistics for us to draw some indisputable and terminal conclusions.

Messi vs Ronaldo debate

But in the mean time, Messi vs Ronaldo has become a tennis-like back and forth where the two forwards try to produce the superior season and bag themselves a Ballon d'Or trophy.

As you well know, Messi currently leads 6-5 in terms of France Football's accolade, but we want a more objective answer to the season-by-season conflict and that means looking at statistics.

And in the world of football, nothing comes close to WhoScored.com and their system of match ratings, which gives each player a score based on more than 20 data-sets for every game they play.

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The statistical winner each season

So, if we average both Messi and Ronaldo's match ratings across entire seasons, who comes out on top each year? Well, fear not, because we have the answers.

You can check out down below which of the two players had the edge statistically across the last nine full seasons and the 2019/20 campaign as it currently stands:

2019/20 (so far)

Lionel Messi - 8.6
Cristiano Ronaldo - 7.9

2018/19

Lionel Messi - 8.5
Cristiano Ronaldo - 7.7

2017/18

Lionel Messi - 8.7
Cristiano Ronaldo - 7.9

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2016/17

Lionel Messi - 8.5
Cristiano Ronaldo - 7.6

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

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2012/13

Lionel Messi - 8.8
Cristiano Ronaldo - 8.2

2011/12

Lionel Messi - 8.9
Cristiano Ronaldo - 8.3

2010/11

Lionel Messi - 8.8
Cristiano Ronaldo - 8.3

Final score: Lionel Messi 9.5 - 0.5 Cristiano Ronaldo

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Messi dominates the statistics

Oh my goodness. 

As far as the statistics are concerned, Messi vs Ronaldo has been an absolute whitewash in favour of the Barcelona legend over the last ten years, winning nine of the seasons outright.

The only year in which Ronaldo wasn't outdone by his eternal rival came in 2013/14, but even that wasn't enough to come out on top with Messi also producing an average match rating of 8.3.

So, I guess this means the GOAT debate is an absolute no-brainer then? Well, it's not quite that easy and it goes without saying that Messi has something of an advantage in this method. 

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Messi's high number of assists and supreme passing makes him likely to tick more statistical boxes than Ronaldo and we'll let you decide whether that makes this study less accurate or not.

But even if you're completely skeptical of the results, what can't be disputed is the proof that Messi is the more complete footballer. Does that make him the best? Maybe... maybe.

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