Between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who is a better footballer? Nothing would spark a more heated debate than this among football fans, and this question seems to pop up more often than ever these days as all European football leagues have been cancelled due to COVID-19.
Spanish newspaper “Marca” has recently held a fan tournament to decide the greatest footballer of all time, featuring some of the game’s biggest names including “living legend” Pele, Diego Maradona and Zinedine Zidane. After Messi won against Cristiano Ronaldo by 52-48 while Ronaldo won against Maradona by 59-41 in the semi-final, Ronaldo came out on top beating Messi by 54-46 in the final where 450,000 fans participated. Pele lost to Ronaldo by 47-53 in the quarter finals.
In 2018, online sports community “SPORTbible” published an article quoting nine football players who have played with both in the same team. Gerard Pique who played with Ronaldo for Manchester United and with Messi for FC Barcelona said in an interview with ESPN, “For me it's like Messi is not human but Cristiano is the best of the humans." Based on their past remarks, “SPORTbible” said that Pique, Angel Di Maria and four other players thought Messi was a better footballer. The other three said Messi and Ronaldo were great players who were equally good.
The recent tournament set up by “Marca” is more to gauge their popularity and does not expect feedback. The verdict of “SPORTbible” is based on the remarks made in the past, which fails to provide object analysis that is up to date. Some people argue that the opposite of what Pele says is more likely to be true given the so-called “Pele’s curse,” a term that was coined because his predictions have been so inaccurate.
At least in Europe, Ronaldo seems to be leading the competition by a small margin. In a similar survey conducted by British newspaper “GiveMeSport” of 307,000 people, 51 percent said Ronaldo was a better player.
One of the important criteria for a great footballer is whether they brought a World Cup victory to their home country. While Pele in 1958, 1962 and 1970 and Maradona in 1986 helped their countries rise to the top with their excellent skills, both Messi and Ronaldo have never won the World Cup. Only time will tell how great footballers Messi and Ronaldo were. Everyone agrees that they are some of the best football players on the field now. The fact that there is such a heated debate over who is better highlights that the verdict has yet to be delivered. Fans want them to be back on the field and see their skills. What they are interested in is their performance. The Ronaldo vs. Messi debate has been going on for more than 10 years. They might be in their late years of their career as footballers, but the competition between them is as fierce as ever.