Lionel Messi has finally got his hands on an international trophy.
Messi ends Argentina drought
Most neutral fans around the world were keeping their fingers crossed that the Barcelona superstar would end his high-profile drought for Argentina at Copa America 2021 this summer.
Despite being widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers in history, Messi was entering the tournament with an infamous streak of bad luck on the international stage.
Messi had tasted defeat in the Copa America final as early as 2007, but it was the period between 2014 and 2016 that really broke his heart with three falls at the final hurdle in just three years.
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Copa America 2021 glory
However, Messi’s long wait for international glory finally came to an end when his miraculous performances guided Argentina all the way to the Maracana climax against hosts Brazil.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the game had more Argentina heartbreak written all over it, but Angel Di Maria’s goal was enough to separate the nations and place the trophy in Messi’s hands.
It wasn’t a vintage final performance from Messi, it must be said, but his stellar output throughout the tournament saw him hoard both the Best Player and top goalscorer awards.
Messi vs Ronaldo debate
However, most importantly for some, Messi’s triumph in South America has served as something of an equaliser in the perpetual Cristiano Ronaldo debate by way of levelling their international titles.
While, yes, Ronaldo also bagged himself a UEFA Nations League crown, the two superstars are level when it comes to major titles with the Portuguese having triumphed at Euro 2016.
As such, the debate between the two is far closer matched when you consider that supporters of Ronaldo had long pointed to Portugal’s European glory as an unassailable argument for Messi.
But now that they both have a major honour resting in their trophy cabinets, we wanted to put their individual outputs under the microscope to see who contributed more to each of their successes.
2016 Ronaldo vs 2021 Messi
Ok, perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration of quite what we can extrapolate, but the closest we can come to answering that question is by way of comparing their statistics at each tournament.
Using the rich data banks at Sofascore, we’ve contrasted Ronaldo’s performances at Euro 2016 to Messi’s displays at Copa America 2021 across what we consider to be the most important metrics.
So, without further ado, check out how the two Ballon d’Or winners compared down below:
Lionel Messi – 7
Cristiano Ronaldo – 7
Lionel Messi – 4
Cristiano Ronaldo – 3
Minutes per goal
Lionel Messi – 158
Cristiano Ronaldo – 208
Lionel Messi – 5
Cristiano Ronaldo – 2
Big chances missed
Lionel Messi – 2
Cristiano Ronaldo – 5
Big chances created
Lionel Messi – 6
Cristiano Ronaldo – 3
Lionel Messi – 2
Cristiano Ronaldo – 0
Average match rating
Lionel Messi – 8.30
Cristiano Ronaldo – 7.34
Overwhelming win for Messi
Well, there you have it, Messi produced better statistics this summer than Ronaldo did at Euro 2016 in just about every respect and all while having played a similar amount of minutes.
Besides, the fact that Ronaldo was taken off injured during the final can be counterbalanced by the fact that Messi still has a better goal-per-game ratio despite playing extra time against Colombia.
Perhaps the main argument that people will have here is that the Copa America is in some way a lesser competition and that winning the European Championships is far more difficult.
However, that’s a tough narrative to pedal when you consider that Portugal’s route to the 2016 final consisted of Iceland, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Poland, Wales and just one win in 90 minutes.
And when Messi had to overcome Chile, Uruguay, Colombia and Brazil on the way to conquering South America, it becomes pretty clear that the Copa America bashing simply doesn’t hold up.
As a result, Messi wins this argument in just about every which way you can look at it and we’ll leave you to draw your own GOAT-related conclusions from that across our social channels.