Ronaldo vs Paolo Maldini: Rare footage shows who won their head-to-head battles

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Ronaldo Nazario is regarded by many as the greatest number nine to ever play the beautiful game.

It's widely accepted that the Brazilian superstar would have been rubbing shoulders with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the GOAT debate if it wasn't for his injury record.

What Ronaldo achieved during his late teens and early twenties with PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona has never been replicated, scoring an astonishing 101 goals over the course of just two seasons.

It was enough to earn himself a lucrative move to Inter Milan in 1997 and his debut campaign couldn't have gone better, winning his first Ballon d'Or title and finding the net 34 times.

Sadly, however, it would be the last time that Ronaldo surpassed 20 goals in a season at San Siro, suffering two serious knee injuries effectively back-to-back that robbed him of his peak years.

Ronaldo and Maldini in Serie A

That being said, the fact we still got to see Ronaldo at his glittering best in the black and blue of Inter is something that should be treasured, especially when you consider how legendary Serie A was in the 1990s.

The Milan derby is still one of the most entertaining and passionate fixtures on the European calendar, but it was something else entirely during Ronaldo's spell with I Nerazzurri.

It also meant that football fans were greeted to regular clashes between arguably the world's best two players at the time: Ronaldo and Paolo Maldini.

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Ronaldo vs Paolo Maldini

Supporters were treated to something similar with Ronaldo vs Messi in Spain during the last decade, but this was even better for pitting a world-class defender against a world-class forward.

While Messi and Ronaldo never really got within a few yards of each other for obvious reasons, Maldini vs Ronaldo meant regular one-on-one clashes and in the Milan derby no less.

So... how did those head-to-head battles actually go? Well, rare footage compiled by YouTuber 'Legendofdefense' has shown us the answer with more than two minutes of the legendary duo.

Check out the brilliant footage down below:

Maldini comes out on top

Wow. Maldini really was something else.

Even when playing against a prime Ronaldo before the injuries, Maldini seemed to come out on top with a combination of genius defensive awareness and not being afraid to use brute force.

Say what you like about the fact Maldini seemed to bully Ronaldo off the ball and downright chop him down at times, but it was exactly what was needed to stop the Inter striker.

It would seem that Maldini made an exception to his legendary quote about tackling when it came to facing the forward who combined strength, speed and skill better than any other. 

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Perhaps it goes to show that when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, it's the latter that wins.

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