Cristiano Ronaldo cannot be separated from Lionel Messi - yet

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To celebrate the launch of Nike's 'The Switch' which stars Cristiano Ronaldo, GiveMeSport takes a look at the Real Madrid star's greatest rivals.

As a 12-year-old boy, Cristiano Ronaldo left home and joined Sporting Lisbon’s academy to pursue his dream of becoming a professional footballer. He is a man from humble beginnings, but over the past decade the Portuguese winger has developed into a global phenomenon and cemented his legacy as one of the game’s all-time greats.

Facing criticism

In many ways, some of Cristiano’s biggest rivals have been his detractors and those who have criticised him on his way to becoming the best. By his own admission, the former Manchester United star went to ground too easily during the early stages of his six-year spell at Old Trafford and was often accused of diving.

Some people feel that Ronaldo is cocky, arrogant, selfish and only interested in himself, but as he’s matured, he’s made great strides in changing the public’s perception of him. With the release of the thoroughly insightful “Ronaldo” film last year, people started to realise that Ronaldo’s underlying desire to be the best stems from his many sacrifices and the fact that he has dedicated his entire life thus far to football.

The 31-year-old superstar is driven, determined, immensely hard-working, willing to adapt, hugely competitive and possesses an unrivalled desire to score goals. It’s these qualities, along with his talent and skill, which have seen him transform not only into a powerful athlete but also into arguably the best in the world.

Overcoming adversity

Ronaldo overcame many obstacles both technically and mentally, and there’s no doubt that his time in English football was beneficial in toughening him up and in encouraging him to concentrate less on showboating and more on scoring and creating goals.

He firmly established himself as a world-class talent at Man United before moving to Real Madrid for a then world-record transfer fee of £80 million in 2009, where he would go on to have his greatest rivalry…

Lionel Messi

Ronaldo’s greatest rival has unquestionably been Barcelona forward and Argentina captain Lionel Messi. Between them, they have won the last eight FIFA Ballon d’Or awards and have taken the game to a completely new level with the consistency of their performances, their ability to produce magical, match-winning moments and their record-breaking goalscoring feats over the past six or seven years.

The two stand-out players of an entire generation have scored in multiple Champions League finals, reached the 50-goal mark year after year, and totalled over 500 goals each during their glittering careers. Their unbridled rivalry is further intensified by the fact that they represent Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively, who have one of fiercest rivalries in club football.

Both Messi and Ronaldo have significant responsibility and expectation on their shoulders, captaining their respective countries and acting as talismanic figures for their club teams. The footballing icons are known the world over, they are the two most popular sports people across social media platforms and they endorse a variety of brands and products too. A perfect example of this is Ronaldo’s endorsement of Nike’s sportswear, which can be seen in the new Nike advert 'The Switch'.

“Messi vs. Ronaldo” has developed into one of the most fascinating professional sporting rivalries ever, and it has without doubt raised the bar in modern football. That said, over the years it has become more and more clear that the pair are extremely civil towards one another and share a mutual respect off the pitch, all the while trying to out-do each other and push their limits on it.

There is often much debate across the globe regarding who is better; Ronaldo or Messi. In truth, despite their careers pretty much mirroring each other in terms of success, they are two very different footballers with contrasting styles and so are extremely difficult to compare.

Instead, football fans should focus on cherishing their efforts and enjoying their incredible contributions to the “Beautiful Game” whilst they are at the peak of their powers. After all, future generations will look back through time and consider us blessed that we saw the likes of Ronaldo and Messi from their emergence all the way to the sustained levels of greatness that they have both achieved.

Competition drives Ronaldo

It’s safe to say that all of Cristiano’s biggest rivals and challenges throughout his career have inspired him, brought the very best out of him, and made him an even better player. The prolific forward has become the all-time leading goalscorer not just for Real Madrid and Portugal, but also in the Champions League, which is the most elite club competition in world football.

Ronaldo’s penalty kick in the 2016 Final secured Los Blancos “La Undecima” and his tally of 51 goals from just 48 games last term meant he’s registered (at least) 50 goals for six consecutive seasons. Having also become the leading scorer in UEFA European Championship history (including qualifying) back in 2014, Ronaldo will be looking to lead his country to glory at Euro 2016.

This year’s European Championships get underway on Friday and Ronaldo, who is undoubtedly the biggest name at the tournament, is set to spearhead Portugal’s attack for their opening game against Iceland on Tuesday (June 14).

Who is better - Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? Leave a comment below!

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La Liga
Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi
Argentina Football

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