Messi vs Ronaldo: The European club stats comparison

The Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi stats reveal that it has been undoubtedly the biggest rivalry in modern football.
Messi vs Ronaldo: It's the end of the era for the GOATS OF FOOTBALL in Europe
Messi vs Ronaldo: It's the end of the era for the GOATS OF FOOTBALL in Europe Image- Stern

The Messi vs Ronaldo is a never ending saga two greatest ever. Now that Lionel Messi has left European football to the MLS while Ronaldo left for Saudi Arabia in January. It is time to look at the stats of the greatest ever grace the European football scene.

While Portuguese superstar Ronaldo made his professional debut for Sporting in 2002, Argentine talisman Messi took the world football by storm when he made his senior debut for La Liga giants Barcelona in 2004.

Messi vs Ronaldo: Messi and Ronaldo at the Ballon d'or ceremony
Messi vs Ronaldo: Messi and Ronaldo at the Ballon d'or ceremonyImage- The Week

The Messi vs Ronaldo debate first became the biggest conundrum in football during the 2007-08 season. Both the football megastars were nominated for the prestigious Ballon d'Or in 2007. Interestingly, Kaka pipped Ronaldo and Messi to claim the coveted award that year. Meanwhile, Ronaldo finished second with 277 votes while Messi came third with 255 votes.

However, after Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi would go on to dominate the Ballon d'Or in the next 10 years.

Playing for Manchester United, Ronaldo (446 votes) claimed his first Ballon d'Or in 2008 after he edged second-placed Messi (281 votes).

In 2009, former Barcelona forward Messi took his revenge as he bagged his maiden Ballon d'Or by beating Ronaldo with 250 votes. 

Since then, Messi won the Ballon d'Or in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021. On the other hand, Ronaldo clinched the Ballon d'Or in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.

Player profile: Lionel Messi

After leading Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar, Messi was named the men's player of the year at the 2022 Best Fifa Awards. The forward has now won the Fifa award twice and is favourite to lift the Ballon d'Or for a record eighth time in 2023. In his club career Messi spent 21 years with FC Barcelona before moving to PSG in France. At Barca he won multiple trophies including Spain's La Liga title ten times and the Uefa Champions League four times. After winning two Ligue 1 titles with PSG, Messi will leave the French club in summer 2023. 

At Qatar 2022 Messi scored seven goals, including two in the final against France. He played his 1,000th career match as Argentina beat Australia in the round of 16. Argentina also won the 2021 Copa America with Messi the top goalscorer in the competition.

Messi vs Ronaldo: Lionel Messi with the World Cup trophy
Messi vs Ronaldo: Lionel Messi with the World Cup trophyImage - Getty

After winning a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Copa America triumph in 2021 was his first in senior international football. South American champions Argentina won the 2022 "Finalissima", 3-0 against European champions Italy, with captain Messi named man-of-the-match at Wembley Stadium.  

  • Full name: Lionel Andrés Messi

  • Age: 36

  • Born: 24 June 1987

  • European Clubs: Paris Saint-Germain (2021-2023); Barcelona (2004-2021)

  • Nationality: Argentine 

  • Ballon d'Or wins: 8 (2023, 2021, 2019, 2015, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009)

  • The Best Fifa Men's Player: 3 (2023, 2022, 2019)

  • Champions League winners' medals – 4: 2005-06, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2014-15 (all with Barcelona)

  • Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award: 2 (2019, joint winner with Lewis Hamilton), 2023

  • Captained Argentina in their 2021 Copa America win

  • Captained Argentina in their 2022 Fifa World Cup win

  • 102 goals in 174 games for Argentina (both national records)

Messi vs Ronaldo: It's the end of the era for the GOATS OF FOOTBALL in Europe
Last 10 Ballon d’Or Winners List

Player profile: Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal star Ronaldo has played his club football with Sporting Lisbon (2002-2003), Manchester United (2003-2009 and 2021-2022), Real Madrid (2009-2018), Juventus (2018-2021) and now Al Nassr in Saudi Arabia (2023-present). The 38-year-old's trophy collection includes five Champions League winners' medals and league titles in England, Spain and Italy. In Qatar he became the first male player to score in five different Fifa World Cups.   

Ronaldo with all his Ballon d'Ors
Ronaldo with all his Ballon d'OrsImage- Getty

Five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo, who has scored more than 830 goals for club and country, is the top goalscorer in men's international football with 122 goals for Portugal and now holds the record for most international appearances (198). He won the European Championship with Portugal in 2016 and is also the all-time top goalscorer for Real Madrid (450) and in the Champions League (140). 

  • Full name: Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro

  • Age: 39

  • Born: 5 February 1985

  • European Clubs: Manchester United (2021-2022 and 2003-2009); Juventus (2018-2021); Real Madrid (2009-2018); Sporting Lisbon (2002-2003)

  • Nationality: Portuguese 

  • Ballon d'Or wins: 5 wins (2017, 2016, 2014, 2013, 2008) 

  • The Best Fifa Men's Player: 2 wins (2016 and 2017)

  • Champions League winners' medals – 5: 2007–08 with Man Utd; 2013–14, 2015–16, 2016–17 and 2017–18 with Real Madrid

  • Captained Portugal in their Euro 2016 win

  • All-time top goalscorer in men's international football (122 goals) 

  • All-time record men's international appearances (198)

  • Top goalscorer in the Uefa Champions League (140 goals)

  • First male player to score in five different Fifa World Cups

Messi vs Ronaldo: Stats in Club competition:

  • Ronaldo: 715 goals and 205 assists in 968 appearances 

  • Messi: 704 goals and 303 assists in 853 appearances 

  • Hat-tricks: Ronaldo 52; Messi 48

  • Club goal ratio: Ronaldo 0.74; Messi 0.83

  • Penalties: Ronaldo 134; Messi 84 

Messi vs Ronaldo stats in UCL:

Ronaldo is the all-time leading goalscorer in the Champions League, having shone in the competition with Manchester United and Real Madrid in particular.

However, Messi isn't far behind and actually has a fractionally better goal-per-game ratio, so there is a good chance that he could overtake the Man United man if he continues to sparkle in the competition .

Ronaldo also holds the record for most overall Champions League appearances, having overtaken Iker Casillas.

Messi vs Ronaldo: It's the end of the era for the GOATS OF FOOTBALL in Europe
Most Ballon d'Or winners by club

Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo: Trophies

Messi and Ronaldo have similar enough trophy hauls, but Messi edges things when it comes to league titles, having won La Liga 10 times with Barcelona and Ligue 1 once with PSG. Ronaldo has seven league titles, but unlike Messi, he can claim to have won the league in three different countries (England, Spain and Italy) – something that increases his claim to the GOAT crown in the eyes of some.

Ronaldo has an edge over Messi in the Champions League, his love affair with the competition earning him the nickname 'Mr Champions League'. The Manchester United star has also enjoyed notable success on the international stage with Portugal, winning the European Championship and the UEFA Nations League.

Messi endured considerable heartache with Argentina early on in his international career, with four unsuccessful Copa America campaigns, three of which saw them lose in the final. But he finally got his hands on the Copa in 2021, before going to win the 2022 Finalissima and then the 2022 World Cup. Additionally, Messi has an Olympic gold medal.

Messi vs Ronaldo
Messi vs RonaldoImage - Marca

Messi vs Ronaldo: Individual Achievements:

The individual battle between Ronaldo and Messi has been the defining feature of modern football for the past decade and more.

Messi went ahead of Ronaldo in the Ballon d'Or stakes when he won his sixth in 2019 and cemented his superior status in that field with his seventh in 2021.

Ronaldo does boast more of FIFA's new 'The Best' awards and has been crowned UEFA Player of the Year on more occasions, but Messi has won more league Player of the Year accolades. Of course, it must be said that Ronaldo has won the Player of the Year award in England, Spain and Italy.

Messi has got his hands on the European Golden Shoe a record six times, which is two more than Ronaldo, and is marginally ahead of his rival overall, but the fact that both have been on the FIFPro World XI 14 times is an illustration of how closely fought the battle has been.

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