There is no better rivalry than the one between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Perhaps, this is the best rivalry ever to take place keeping in mind the one between Pele and Maradona, simply because the former hung up his boots when the latter was ready to take the centre stage.
Coming back to the modern day legends, Messi and Ronaldo seems to break every record and the two make each other deadly and devastating. Here are few stats which shows which of the two has the edge till now.
Leo Messi Vs Cristiano Ronaldo World Cup Stats:
Cristiano is two years elder to Messi, but both of them hogged the limelight post 2004. Cristiano already stunned the experts after his 2004 Euro exploits, but Messi was still trying to make the starting eleven. In 2006 World Cup, Portugal had a decent run and finished fourth, whereas Argentina bowed out to Germany.
Messi looked way more matured than his age and his display against the Germans was impressive. In the tournament, Messi appeared in three matches scored one and set up another. Cristiano on the other hand looked a bit subdued but played brilliantly against England and Germany. However, he could only score a single goal in his six appearances.
By 2010, both of them were destined to be the greatest of the game. Portugal pinned their hopes on Cristiano, and Argentina had their own Messiah. After a poor start, Ronaldo was heavily criticized for underperforming. This fueled the Madeira born and despite being knocked out early in the tournament, he produced his best. Cristiano was involved in almost every Portugal attack and scored one and assisted another.
Messi on the other hand looked out of sorts and the Argentine could only provide an assist in his five games. Maradona and Messi were heavily criticized for Albiceleste’s performance. This worked as a blessing in disguise as the next World Cup saw one of the finest individual performances.
Argentina did not show ruthless efficiency in the qualifiers and looked for another setback. In their first game against Bosnia and Herzegovina, the argentines looked depleted until Messi curled a brilliant left footer to seal the tie. The little man was again required to step up when Argentina faced Iran. Iran put up a commendable performance before Messi struck another outstanding left footed shot on target. The game against Nigeria followed the same pattern where the little man scored twice to win the game. Messi’s pass against Belgium opened the scoring and led Argentina through. Netherlands game was a tight one and after shootouts, Argentina went through. The only game where Messi could not emulate his form was in the final against Germany. The magician was left shattered after giving such a swashbuckling performance.
Cristiano Ronaldo had a stark contrasting World Cup to that of Leo Messi. Plagued by his career threatening knee injury, the Portuguese talisman looked nowhere around his Real Madrid form. Drawn against Germany in the group stage, Portugal produced one of their worst displays as they lost 4-0. Cristiano Ronaldo did not look fit and the whole team crumbled around him. Against USA, it was Ronaldo’s curling cross that helped them salvage a point. Portugal had to beat Ghana mercilessly to qualify for knockout stage. Woodwork and squandered chances kept Ronaldo and Portugal at bay, where he could only score once.
The World Cup has not brought out the best out of Cristiano yet, and with age playing a factor, it would be hard for him to deliver. One should not challenge the resilience of the man, and with his recent 2016 Euro success, he might go all cylinders blazing. Leo on the other hand might kick his luck for not winning the cup in 2014. It will be hard for the diminutive Argentine to emulate such form again.
Overall, Messi has appeared 15 times in World Cup where he scored five and assisted another three. Ronaldo, in his 13 caps could only find the back of the net 3 times and created two more. Clearly, Messi seems to have enjoyed superiority over his arch rival till now.