On June 15th, 2018, Portugal and Spain, two European heavyweights went to battle in their Group B opener of their 2018 World Cup campaigns. Portugal superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo had a huge test ahead in that Spain defense and goalkeeper David de Gea, the best in the world at his position. Ronaldo recently made claims that he is the GOAT, and that the gap between him and Lionel Messi of Argentina is the largest it has been in a while. This match gave him a great opportunity to prove himself, and he did more than just that. drew a penalty in the 3rd minute of the match and converted from the penalty spot a minute later to give Portugal a quick 1-0 lead. Spain, however, did not back down, as striker Diego Costa brought them level with a series of beautiful moves between a crowd of 4 Portuguese defenders. Portugal, or should I say, Ronaldo, was not fazed. In the 44th minute, Ronaldo got to the edge of the box and fired at the knee of David de Gea, who could not hang on to the ball, allowing the ball to deflect off his knee and in for his second goal. Portugal goes into half up 2-1. Spain, however, ended up taking a 3-2 lead by the 58th minute, with Costa scoring again, and Ronaldo’s Real Madrid teammate Nacho scoring an amazing golazo. Down 3-2, Portugal was unable to create any real chances until the 88th minute, when Ronaldo was fouled in his ‘free-kick territory’, and man did he deliver. Ronaldo, before he kicked it, stepped back, rolled his shorts up, took a few deep breaths, and kicked it straight into the back of the net. The Ronaldo GOAT talks seemed to be happening at an all-time high, and it seems as though we can expect to see more of this throughout his 2018 World Cup campaign.
On June 16th, 2018, Argentina played their Group D World Cup opener against Iceland, a team that had never scored a goal in its World Cup history. Argentina, full of world-class goal scorers led by Lionel Messi, seemed primed to take an easy win, but Iceland had other ideas. In a rather boring game, Argentinian striker Sergio Agüero got things started with an early goal in the 19th minute, which was followed up by Alfred Finbogasson’s goal, as those 2 goals would be the only goals of the entire match, but there were many chances from Argentina, specifically Messi, to win the match. Messi received a penalty kick which, unlike Ronaldo, he failed to convert on, and a free kick, which he also failed to convert on, again unlike Ronaldo. Messi had the pressure put on him by Ronaldo’s performance and did not deliver, that too against a much weaker team in Iceland. Considering the circumstances, Iceland celebrated as if it was a win, which despite the score line, it was a win for the Icelandic.
On June 20th, 2018, Ronaldo and Portugal played Morocco, in a rather sloppy 1-0 win, and Ronaldo scored off of a header in the 4th minute, yet he, and his GOATee shined throughout the match.
On June 21st, 2018, Messi and Argentina played Croatia. Croatia destroyed Messi and Co. 3-0, and Messi had 20 touches, not shots, TOUCHES, in the first half, and went the last 21 minutes and 11 seconds without a single touch. Croatian players like Ante Rebić, Mario Mandzukić, Ivan Rakitić, and Luka Modrić made Messi look like a player who shouldn’t have even gone to the World Cup.
Is Ronaldo The GOAT Over Messi?
Well, let us take a look at the stats. First, look at the Ballon D’Or’s, the award given to the best player in the world every year. Both of them have 5 each, with Ronaldo having won 4 of the last 5 Ballon D’Or’s. As far as Champions League’s go, it is in favor of Ronaldo, 5-4 (Ronaldo won his first in 2008 with Manchester United). So, now to the goals. Ronaldo in his career has 658 goals in 913 appearances (573 goals in 761 appearances club-wise), whereas Messi has 616 goals in 763 appearances (552 goals in 637 appearances club-wise). So, Ronaldo holds the crown in goals overall. Messi has 250 assists to Ronaldo’s 208, yet that it expected, since Messi plays on the wings, and has never played striker, whereas Ronaldo is often asked to play striker, as he does in international play for Portugal. Last, look at the trophies. Ronaldo has 3 Premier League Titles, 1 FA Cup, 2 EFL Cups, La Liga, Copa del Rey, Spanish Cup, and UEFA Super Cups each, along with the 5 Champions Leagues, and 4 Club World Cups. Ronaldo also won the UEFA Euro’s in 2016, giving him a career total of 23 trophies. Messi has 8 La Ligas, 6 Copa del Rey and Spanish Supercups each, 4 Champions Leagues, and 3 UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cups each, and he has a FIFA U-20 World Cup win, and a Gold Medal (2008), giving him a grand total of 32 trophies. Now, many of these trophies came before Real Madrid received Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United in 2008. Messi also has had guys like Ronaldinho, Carlos Puyol, Xavi, Xavi Alonso, David Villa, Andres Iniesta, Alexis Sanchez, Neymar, and Luis Suarez, all of these players being some of the greatest players at the sport. Ronaldo has had Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney, Garry Neville, Patrice Evra, Ryan Giggs, Edwin van der Sar, Gerard Pique, and Gareth Bale, also some of the greatest players to play the sports. Messi, however, much like in the Michael Jordan-LeBron conversation, has always had the more superior teams, unlike Ronaldo, who played in England, where the competition is always more tough.
As players, regardless of statistics, Ronaldo is more of a ‘move without the ball to get position, get into the box with the ball, and shoot or draw fouls kind of player’, as he creates many more chances. Messi, on the other hand, goes all over the field, yet is more of a player who stays on the wings and does his movement with the ball at his feet. When it comes to shooting, no one is as good as Ronaldo, especially with the technique that Ronaldo uses when shooting, such as the bend and finesse that he puts on every shot, you never see the same kind of bend and finesse twice. Messi is more of a power kind of kicker, yet less finesse-oriented. Ronaldo also, unlike Messi, is very good at conserving energy when on the field, as he really only moves around the pitch when his team is in possession.
Now, when leading a team, if Messi always has the better team, then why doesn’t he have a World Cup yet? Well, that’s where the composure part comes in. Messi, unlike Ronaldo, let’s the talk and pressure get to him, and he lets it affect his overall play on the pitch. Take yesterday for example, how Messi tried so hard to shoot and score, as Ronaldo calmly put away penalties and free kicks. Ronaldo also needs less shots and on-the-ball touches to be effective. Ronaldo took 4 shots and had 3 shots on target against Spain (he scored all 3), whereas Messi had 3 shots on 11 targets. Against Iceland. Messi had 0 shots against Croatia. ZERO! Even for club, Messi disappears in big moments, such as the Champions League. This year, in the quarterfinal against Roma, when his team was down 3-0 and tied 4-4 on aggregate, Messi took shameless shots on goal to no avail, and almost seemed to have given up on himself and the team as a whole, always with his head down, and not playing with the heart and will. Ronaldo, on the other hand, was in the same situation, this time in the Champions League semifinal against Juventus, tied at 3-3, and he drew the penalty which ended up being the final kick of the game, as he scored the penalty, giving Real Madrid a 4-3 win on aggregate. Going back to the World Cup conversation, Ronaldo plays for Portugal. Yes, Portugal is a good team, but not better than the top teams in the world like Germany, Brazil, France, Spain, or even Argentina. Argentina has guys like Paulo Dybala, Sergio Agüero, Lucas Biglia, Ever Banega, Angel di Maria, and many more, all of which are better than Ronaldo’s best world-class players, who would be André Silva, Bernando Silva, Joao Mario, and Joao Moutinho. Messi also plays for Argentina, a country with a long history, with Diego Maradona, one of the greatest midfielders ever to play the game, always watching him. Maradona has always called out Messi for his lack of leadership of such an uber-talented team like Argentina, yet Messi never answers. Expect Ronaldo to have a better World Cup, and Portugal to go to at least the semifinal of the tournament, beating Argentina in the quarterfinals (I am assuming both Portugal and Argentina win their groups). Ronaldo has almost closed the door on Messi for GOAT status during this World Cup, and expect him to finish the job this year. I am also predicting that Nigeria will pull off the upset vs. Argentina, and will not make it out of the group stage.
Can Any Player Catch Up To Messi and Ronaldo?
Neymar, the Brazilian great, of course, if he can bring Brazil to World Cup glory, and if he can find a club he can stay with for more than one year and win with (unlike PSG this year).