Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have bowed out of the Champions League.
It’s gutting to see arguably the world’s two best players exiting Europe’s premier competition as early as the round of 16, especially as it’s the first time since the 2004/05 campaign.
However, you really get the feeling that a changing of the guard is going on right now and the respective departures of Barcelona and Juventus have done little to persuade fans otherwise.
Messi and Ronaldo exit Europe
First up, the Old Lady waved goodbye to the Champions League on Tuesday as they suffered a second consecutive year of away goals heartbreak with Porto scoring twice in Turin.
Then, the following night, Barcelona finished miles shy of a dramatic comeback against PSG as a 1-1 draw in Paris, featuring a screamer from Messi, saw them lose the tie 5-2 on aggregate.
However, if there is any positive to Messi and Ronaldo taking a step back from European football until next season it’s the fact we can take stock of their 2020/21 performances as a whole.
Who had the better Champions League season?
Naturally, living in a world where Messi and Ronaldo are compared every ten seconds, we couldn’t resist working out who produced the better statistics in the Champions League this season.
But we didn’t want to limit ourselves to that and instead used the vast data resources at WhoScored to work out which player had performed better in European football each season.
To do so, we’ve compared their average match ratings from the Champions League, which are calculated across vast data sets each game and date back as far as the 2009/10 campaign.
Ronaldo vs Messi every season
Sure, Ronaldo’s Manchester United spell won’t be featuring here, but the statistics still incorporate each player’s prime, so be sure to check out who emerged victorious across the 12 seasons below:
Cristiano Ronaldo – 8.47
Lionel Messi – 8.44
Lionel Messi – 8.87
Cristiano Ronaldo – 7.87
Lionel Messi – 8.88
Cristiano Ronaldo – 8.43
Cristiano Ronaldo – 7.93
Lionel Messi – 7.75
Cristiano Ronaldo – 8.71
Lionel Messi – 8.37
Lionel Messi – 8.90
Cristiano Ronaldo – 7.83
Lionel Messi – 8.28
Cristiano Ronaldo – 8.11
Lionel Messi – 8.24
Cristiano Ronaldo – 8.06
Cristiano Ronaldo – 8.12
Lionel Messi – 8.03
Lionel Messi – 8.77
Cristiano Ronaldo – 7.48
Lionel Messi – 8.37
Cristiano Ronaldo – 7.26
Lionel Messi – 8.51
Cristiano Ronaldo – 7.74
Final score: Lionel Messi 8-4 Cristiano Ronaldo
Messi claims surprise victory
It was all so close coming into the 2014/15 season, wasn’t it?
Truth be told, the statistics are nothing short of fascinating because logic would dictate that Ronaldo would actually be at his most dominant when Real Madrid won ‘Big Ears’ four times in five years.
However, remarkably, Ronaldo only produced better statistics than Messi during the 2017/18 campaign after the record-breaking season in which he scored 17 Champions League goals.
Now, it must be said that Messi is a darling of the statistics and his broader role for Barcelona, such as dropping deep as a playmaker more often, does give him an advantage over Ronaldo.
But even the biggest statistical skeptic must admit that the data drives a massive hole in Ronaldo’s claim as the greatest Champions League player of all time.
If nothing else, though, let it show that Ronaldo winning quadruple the amount of Champions League titles as Messi since 2011 has by no means made him fours time as good of a player.