Cristiano Ronaldo will be hoping to fare better than Lionel Messi in the Champions League round of 16.
The Manchester United star is aspiring to lift ‘Big Ears’ for the first time since his final season at Real Madrid, but will have to get past his old Spanish rivals at Old Trafford on Tuesday to edge closer to that dream.
Ronaldo cut a frustrated figure after the first leg against Atletico Madrid when United were lucky to escape with a draw, profiting from Anthony Elanga’s late equaliser to cancel out Joao Felix’s opener.
Ronaldo and Messi in the Champions League
However, Ronaldo knows one or two things about navigating do-or-die games with Atletico, so you’d certainly forgive United fans for feeling quietly confidence going into the second leg in Manchester.
But there are no guarantees in the Champions League with Paris Saint-Germain’s crushing exit just a few days beforehand making for a cautionary tale that the Red Devils should be keeping in mind.
Despite Messi looking certain to qualify for the final eight with PSG commanding a 2-0 aggregate lead late on against Real Madrid, Karim Benzema’s breath-taking treble flipped the game on its head.
With the Real star’s final two goals separated by just a few seconds, the chaotic scenes at the Bernabeu did nothing but perpetuate the narrative that it’s better to have Ronaldo than Messi in a Champions League crisis.
Real Madrid 3-1 PSG Match Reaction (Football Terrace)
Comparing Messi and Ronaldo in crisis moments
Besides, regardless of where you stand on the GOAT debate overall, the last six or seven years have painted a very clear picture that Ronaldo is the greatest player in Champions League history if nothing else.
And while it remains to be seen just how much Ronaldo might have to dig deep this time around, there’s one particular viral video that suggests United will be more than equipped if that scenario presents itself.
That’s because the current status quo in the Ronaldo vs Messi dynamic reminded us of a popular video from 2020 that compares the superstars’ reactions to losing in key Champions League games where they went 3-0 down.
From Ronaldo in the midst of seeing Real collapse at home against Juventus to Messi watching the AS Roma capitulation unfold before his eyes, be sure to watch the comparison to see for yourselves down below:
The Difference between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo when their teams are losing 3-0 pic.twitter.com/PqrfNrrQXp— Albi 🇽🇰 (@albiFCB7) November 27, 2020
Ronaldo: The superior leader
With all the respect in the world to Messi, you’ve got to put your hands up and say that Ronaldo is the better leader – and even more so when it comes to crunch Champions League ties.
The game in question saw Los Blancos throwing away the 3-0 lead that they established at the Allianz Stadium by falling apart in front of the Bernabeu crowd, conceding three goals to the Italian giants.
However, even as the shots flew past Keylor Navas to the point where Real looking to be completely bottling it, Ronaldo can still be seen trying to wrestle up the spirits of both the players and fans.
And at the end of the day, it can’t have done the European giants any harm as they eventually won the tie 4-3 on aggregate with Ronaldo himself holding his nerve to score a stoppage-time penalty.
Messi, on the other hand, cuts a thoroughly removed, disheartened and muted figure as Barcelona suffer the fate of a humiliating Champions League defeat at the Stadio Olimpico.
Admittedly, the Blaugrana had far less time than Real to turn things around and no doubt Messi did rally the troops at some point, but Barca fans would certainly have appreciated a more Ronaldo-like response.
So, none of this is to say that Messi’s leadership is in any way poor, but as Ronaldo strides towards yet another huge European fixture, you can’t help watching the video and thinking that you’d rather have him as your captain.