MESSI OR RONALDO - WHO IS THE TRUE KING OF FOOTBALL
This is probably the biggest question in football today, since Pele and Maradona; the battle for supremacy has never been this close. This duo dominate the most heated soccer debates worldwide, Ronaldo’s switch to the La Liga and his consequent success has further increased the oscillation of opinions on who the true king of the beautiful game is; Barca fans believe it is their number 10 and the Madrid fans cannot disagree more favouring their most expensive signing ever. Unlike Pele and Maradona, Messi and Ronaldo are in the same age group and play in the same league thereby affording football lovers the opportunity to critically analyze and decide who the ultimate champion is.
Though I cannot claim to be Deji Tinubu or say that I possess his experience, I am certain that I am not a passive football lover and know a few things about the game; I even played although my professional dream never materialized. Still working on it though - since watching Stanley Okoro represent Nigeria at the under-17 tournament, my hope has been rekindled. So from my wealth of experience and having watched several superstars come and go I hereby give my verdict on the current football megastars.
Ronaldo: A swift, strong and very skilful forward, Ronaldo is every defender’s nightmare; combined with his dead ball expertise and good technical ability, he has all it takes to wear the world crown. Manchester United moulded the flamboyant crowd pleaser to a precise lethal weapon whose main goal these days is to rule the football empire. The Portuguese winger was the first Manchester United player to win the Ballon d’Or in 40 years, a great achievement considering the huge talents that donned the red and black jersey of Manchester in that time. In the 2007/2008 season, Ronaldo led Manchester United to Champions’ League, League and FIFA Club World Cup success scoring a total of 42 goals in all competitions - a record second only to Dennis Law’s 46 goals haul in the 1963/1964 season. This feat made him the first English Premier League player to be named FIFA World Player of the Year.
Upon arrival at Madrid, the world’s most expensive player has bagged 54 goals in 57 appearances with 14 assists, an impressive record by any standard. Despite these tremendous achievements; Ronaldo is usually found wanting in the big games especially when pitched against his contemporaries such as Kaka (Milan) and recently Messi. He is also guilty of not replicating his club form at international level.
Messi: Frequently compared to Maradona – a player regarded as arguably the best player of all time, Messi has not shrunk at this challenge, his mesmerising runs, impeccable vision, doggedness, speed, technicality, dead ball expertise and sublime finish indeed earn him a Hall of Fame status. Rising through the Barcelona ranks and growing into a football giant, this South American genius possesses talent that belie his age and small frame. At the tender age of 20, he scored a hat trick in the El Clasico becoming the first player to do so since Ivan Zamorano in 1994/1995 season and the youngest player ever to score in the fixture. In the same season he lived up to his Messidona tag by scoring a replica of Maradona’s legendary 1986 world cup goal. In the 2008/2009 season Messi led Barcelona to the Champions’ league, La Liga, Copa Del Rey, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup success bagging a total of 38 goals. He also became the youngest top scorer in the history of the Champions’ league with nine goals. Consequently Messi won the Ballon d’Or and was named the FIFA World Player of the Year becoming the first Argentine to win the award. The following season Messi bagged an amazing 47 goals in all competitions as Barcelona retained the La Liga trophy.
Since Ronaldo’s Arrival, Messi has scored 72 goals in 74 games while providing 26 assists in the process. However, like Ronaldo he is also guilty of not replicating his superlative form at the international stage.
Having highlighted the strengths of these two champions, there is no doubt that they are highly exceptional players; however, only one can be crowned. One major difference between them is the ability of Messi to rise to the big occasions while his counterpart flounders. To be a true king, one has to fight and conquer the very best. Ronaldo has failed to pass the litmus test too many times and that questions his supremacy. Messi is also more involved in general play than Ronaldo is; He completes more passes, dribbles better, scores more goals with fewer penalties taken and is overall a better team player. These attributes undoubtedly positions him steps ahead of Ronaldo and it is on this pedestal that I declare Lionel Messi as the true king of World football.
2010/2011 Season Statistics