The Sun News

Messi or Ronaldo, who’s the best?

In 1991, I was in Sheffield, England, to cover the World University Games for my organization then, Champion Newspapers, the leader in sports reportage at the time. We were everywhere.
At the Heathrow airport on my way back, two video cassettes at the duty free shop caught my attention. One, ‘Who’s the greatest’, the other ‘The Power of the Orange’. I bought both.
‘Who’s the greatest’ compared legendary footballers of equal exploits. First, two English greats, John Barnes with George Best, then Pele with Maradona. Each player had his own accomplishments spelt out, making it difficult for you to make a choice. In some cases, the choice was clear.
The other cassette, The Power of the Orange, was about the growing influence of The Dutch in world football, both in the quality and avalanche of players and coaches across the globe at the time.
Orange is the official team colour for the Netherlands. Remember Johan Cruyff and the three musketeers, Ruud Gullit, Marco Van Basten and Frank Rijkaard. These Dutch soccer stars were at their peak at the time.
Great coaches like Dick Advocaat, Guus Hiddink, Louis Van Gaal etc were also on top of their game. Even the achievements of Clemence Westerhof and Bonfrere Jo with Nigeria were equally highlighted. Very educative cassettes. I wish I could locate their where about in my house.
However, our focus here is not on the cassettes that may have gone forever, but on the ranging supremacy battle between today’s two world football super stars, Lionel Andres Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, otherwise known as Messi and Ronaldo . Between the two players, who do you think is a better player, or better still, the world’s best today. This contest is not likely to produce winners or losers. It’s a journey worthy of our time all the same.
How do we even conduct this exercise without ignoring some basic principles in research methodology. Whether you approach it qualitatively or quantitatively, you are likely to be accused of bias.
In attempting this onerous task, Stewart Coggin, a football expert had adopted the following criteria: Team play, Dribbling and Control, Physical Prowess , Finishing with head and feet, Free kicks, Skill and Technique, Goals scored and Assists. Even at that, it’s still a hard nut to crack.
Here is the case for Messi: Born 24th June, 1987, in Rosario Argentina. By the age of 12, his enormous talent in the round leather game was already glaring despite an abnormal hormone that tended to retard his growth. But that did not deter Spainish giants, Barcelona FC from snatching him from his boyhood team, Newwell, Old Boys at the age of 13. Since then, little Messi took the world by storm. In summary, he has emerged world footballer of the year five times, the  Ballon d’Or, four of them consecutively. First player to win three European Golden Shoes. The Argentine has won 29 trophies with Barcelona FC, eight La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League, five Copas de Rey, U-20 World Cup and an Olympic gold medal. In 700 appearances in all competitions , magical Messi has scored 565 goals, with 231 assists. If you think this is incredible, then Cristiano Ronaldo is simply phenomenal.
Ronaldo: BORN on 5th February, 1985 in Funchal Madeira, Portugal, he started his march towards stardom with Sporting Lisbon before moving to Manchester United at age 18. His career blossomed under legendary Alex Ferguson, and was rewarded with the world footballer of the year. In 2009, Ronaldo broke the world record in transfer fees, Real Madrid lured him over with whopping $131 price money. He has since emerged world best Four times, just one behind Messi, and with his exploits since the European championship last year which his country won, UEFA and La Liga titles this year, he looks unstoppable for his fifth Ballon d’Or. In his 855 appearances in all competitions, Ronaldo has scored 600 goals, with 195 assists. He has also garnered two La Liga, two Copa del Rey and four UEFA champions league titles in his blistering career. He is the first player to score ten or more goals in six consecutive UEFA Champions League campaigns.
This is the dilemma in any attempt to compare these two extraordinary talents who have erected and dismantled world records with reckless abandon. Let’s go back to Stewart Coggin’s yardsticks for comparative analysis.
Finishing with feet and head, Messi has slight advantage with his feet while Ronaldo is a clear favourite with  the head in my opinion.
In free kicks;very difficult to separate the two, but I think the Portuguese has a slight edge. Dribbling and Control; Messi is my clear winner here. Skill and Technique; give it to Messi too. Team play also goes to Messi as CR7 has often been accused by his teammates of being selfish in front of goal.
In physical Prowess, Ronaldo has my vote. Messi is more creative and skillful, a game changer. But CR7 remains one of the most marketable athletes, the ladies delight and one of the richest according to Forbes. Over all, I still stand with those who think Ronaldo is the best player in the world, while Messi is a spirit from another planet.

Where do you stand?
Till next, keep attacking.

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