Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are Champions League legends.
The two greatest goalscorers in the history of Europe’s premier competition, they boast a combined total of nine triumphs with Ronaldo narrowly edging out his rival having lifted ‘Big Ears’ five times.
Ronaldo: The ultimate clutch player
However, for all the stellar skills and jaw-dropping goals that Messi has produced on the continental stage, he simply can’t match Ronaldo’s penchant for delivering so many clutch moments.
Besides, you only have to look at the 2021/22 season to get an idea of Ronaldo’s ability to grab crucial games by the scruff of the neck with his late winners against Villarreal and Atalanta.
This isn’t to say that Messi doesn’t score last-gasp goals or swing games with his individual brilliance, by the way, but his Portuguese rival just seems to do it on a more regular basis.
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Ronaldo and Messi in big Champions League games
And one vital attribute of Ronaldo’s that helps him achieve this level of escapology is his exceptional leadership, which has almost always been accepted as an advantage that he has over Messi.
Is Messi a poor leader or captain? Absolutely not, but he never quite seems to muster the pulsating energy, oration and motivation that Ronaldo has so often displayed both on and off the pitch.
And this key difference between the Ballon d’Or winners has perhaps never been better illustrated than by a 2020 video that went viral on the back of Barcelona‘s 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich.
Video compares Ronaldo and Messi’s reactions
The clip from Twitter user @TimelineCR7 compares examples of how Messi and Ronaldo have reacted to trailing at half-time during a crucial Champions League tie – and it really is eye-opening.
Messi’s half-time reaction to being 4-1 down to Bayern is damningly contrasted with Ronaldo’s response to Juventus trailing 2-1 on aggregate to Atletico Madrid with 45 minutes still to play.
To say that the difference between the two footballing legends was clear would be the mother of all understatements, so be sure to relieve the revealing footage down below:
Ronaldo: The superior leader
Messi gets such a hard rap for his leadership skills, he really does, but surely even his biggest defenders would hold their hands up and admit that Ronaldo is the superior captain.
While, sure, Messi might have given his own rallying cry at half-time against Bayern, his sullen and defeated look in the dressing room during the interval won’t exactly have inspired confidence.
Whereas Ronaldo rallying the troops with energy and passion just before Juventus went out for one last stand against Atletico really does make you want to take the pitch yourself and fight for him.
Ronaldo’s tactics worked better
And ultimately, Ronaldo’s tactics worked best with the Portugal star scoring twice in the second-half to secure a 3-2 comeback for Juventus, while Messi and Barcelona slumped to a 8-2 annihilation.
A straight comparison between the two second-halves isn’t entirely fair, granted, but considering Barca actually pulled a goal back at 4-2, some extra Messi motivation wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Then again, maybe it’s just useless making any comparison to Ronaldo when it comes to the Champions League because he really does make European football into his playground.