Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi: Who is the best all-round goal scorer?

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Football News

We all know that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo score plenty of goals. A hell of a lot of them in fact.

Both men are seemingly on a mission to redefine what it means to be a prolific goalscorer and tie up pretty much every record in the book.

Lionel Messi has got the record for most goals in a single European season in his back pocket, along with the record for most goals in a calendar year.

The Argentinian let his standards drop ever so slightly by ‘only’ scoring 14 in the Champions League last time round – meaning he is only a joint record holder for the most goals in a single European campaign. Still he has been top scorer in the Champions League for the last four seasons straight, so we’ll let him off for that.

While Messi is certainly the darling of world football in the aftermath of his 4th Ballon d’Or, it is impossible to forget Ronaldo and his efforts in front of goal.

He became the first player to score more than 40 goals in back to back European seasons last term, while he beat Messi to become the fastest man to reach 100 La Liga goals, doing so in an amazing 92 games.

So it is quite easy to see that both men are pretty special when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net, indeed in terms of goals scored over the past few seasons there is little to separate them.

What is interesting to see is the nature of their goals and how they came about, that’s when we start to learn a bit more about each player. All stats used in this article are courtesy of and are correct for the 2012/13 season up to January 9.

Inside/outside the box

Ronaldo – 18/4

Messi – 25/5

Both players have a tendency to score most their goals from inside the area. Ronaldo has 18 goals from inside the area, while hitting four goals from outside.

Messi follows a similar pattern, hitting 25 goals from outside this season, while coming up with five from outside. The perception may be that Ronaldo tends to hit more long-range efforts, but evidently that isn’t really the case.

Headed goals

Ronaldo – 1

Messi - 1

This is quite interesting. Ronaldo is known as a player who is excellent with is head, while the more diminutive Messi isn’t quite so prolific when the ball is swung into the box.

In fact both players have just one headed goal to their name this season in La Liga and the Champions League. While you would anticipate that Barcelona’s passing style wouldn’t be conducive to headed goals, the fact that Ronaldo has so few with his head is quite a shock.

Left foot/Right foot

Ronaldo – 5/16

Messi - 4/28

Once again, both players are fairly evenly matched in this regard, with Ronaldo coming up with five goals from his ‘wrong foot’ compared to Messi’s four.

The fact Messi has scored more goals overall means his four with his right boot shows he is slightly less prolific than his rival when unable to use his favoured foot.


Ronaldo – 2/4

Messi -1/2

A recent GMF feature showed that Ronaldo was in fact a better penalty taker than Messi, and the stats this season back that up. Messi has scored two penalties this season while Ronaldo has scored four.

When it comes to free-kicks, Ronaldo has two this term to Messi’s one.

So there you have it. Ronaldo tends to be more dangerous from set pieces and is ever so slightly better on his weaker foot, but Messi can match his opponent when heading the ball despite being noticeably shorter and has more goals on his strong foot.

Given the stats above, who do you rate as the better goal scorer? Leave your comments below!

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