Messi v Ronaldo: Who had the better 2010-11 season?

by Charlie Coffey

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

World player of the year Lionel Messi’s goal against Manchester United in the Champions League final was his 12th in 13 games in that particular competition, and his 53rd in all. In any other era this would have been a stand-out achievement, but in 2011 it meant merely achieving parity with Cristiano Ronaldo.

La Marca, the famously pro-Real Madrid newspaper that awards the Pinchichi (La Liga top scorer) award, has handed it to Ronaldo, saying he has scored 54 times. However, most neutral observers choose to award one controversial goal from that 54 to Pepe rather than Ronaldo, which would put the two players on 53 goals each.

Either way, these two outstanding players have been scoring for fun all season long, but whilst the end result is identical this season the way in which they have achieved it is so different.  Both have lightning-fast feet, awesome pace and unerring accuracy in their finishing, but Ronaldo is so much more direct and powerful than Messi while the Argentinian, at the height of just 5ft 6, beats his opponents with pure technique and skill. This contrast in styles means that fans worldwide disagree on who is the better player. In the end it comes down to personal taste.

The two have both scored in a Champions League finals, although Messi has now won the competition three times with Barcelona, scoring in two of those finals (both against Manchester United) whilst Ronaldo has won just one, with United in 2008. Ronaldo’s scoring rate in La Liga is better than Messi’s last season, and he has now broken the record for the most amount of goals scored in a single La Liga season – 41 if you read La Marca, which accounts for 42.7 per cent of Real’s league goals in 2010-11. This was achieved with an astonishing finish to the domestic season in which he scored 11 goals in the last four games. The 54 in all competitions are made up of nine penalties, six free-kicks, five headers, 25 goals in open play with his right foot and nine with his left.

Many of Ronaldo’s fans point to the fact that his height and the accuracy of his heading gives his game another dimension over Messi’s. He scored the winning goal in the Copa del Rey final this season with an excellent headed goal, and his Champions League final goal against Chelsea was also with his head.

While Messi’s finish to the La Liga season was not quite as prolific as Ronaldo’s, he made up for that with a scintillating spell in October and November last year in which he scored 15 in ten matches for club and country. Messi scored 31 goals in 31 La Liga starts, a return that accounted for 32.6 per cent of Barca’s league goals. His 13 Champions League goals came from just 12 starts and one substitute appearance. In the Champions League Messi completed an average of 6.5 dribbles per 90 minutes, which is almost two more per game more than his nearest contender, David Ruiz of FC Twente. Ronaldo did not even make the top 10. That feat is even more impressive when it is taken into account that Messi often picks up the ball in a central position where there is much less room to manoeuvre than there is on the flanks.

Messi’s fans rightly point out that he is more selfless than Ronaldo, and works harder without the ball. Although Ronaldo has the greater strength for defending and chasing back, it is Messi who works tirelessly to close down opponents. If Messi has a chance to score but a team-mate is in a better position, there is a good chance he would pass the ball whereas Ronaldo would opt to shoot. Although Ronaldo has scored more league goals this season he has taken 250 shots to Messi’s 150, while Messi has made 18 assists to Ronaldo’s ten.

Who has been the better player this season? Dexy would like you to decide.

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  • shaun


  • Matt Quinn

    So ronaldo had 100 more shots than Messi. That means Ronaldo gave away possession at least 100 times more than Messi.

    No denying that Ronaldo is a fantastic player but the number of times a promising Real attack is halted by Ronaldo shooting at goal is unbelievable. The phrase if you don’t buy a ticket you don’t win the raffle is not at all applicable to football- no matter how many times the likes of Andy Townsend et al repeat it. Football is about choosing the right option. Ronaldo doesn’t seem capable of consistently choosing the right option as the above stat, alone, shows.

  • Ayodeji

    What a difficult question. They are both good. Difficult to put them apart.

  • charlie coffey

    yeah Messi must be so much better to play with, chases back more and looks to pass before he shoots.

    The you have to buy a ticket to win tactic doesn’t always work for Ronnie, unless Heurelho Gomes is in goal!

  • Dante

    The question isn’t really difficult at all. Cristiano Ronaldo is indeed an amazing player, best overall in everything. Rated 89 on the Ps3 Fifa 11 game and the list goes on and on. However L. Messi is said to be Argentinian but I highly believe he’s not from this Planet! He’s just on a league of his own. When he retires, he’ll be on a different plateau way above the other 2 greats like Maradona and Pele something Cristiano Ronaldo may never be compared to. He’s humble, self-less, TEAM PLAYER….He’ll forever be the best. The Flea is frickin’ magic. I feel like I’m watching Michael Jordan when I see him on the pitch. L. Messi Rated 90 on ps3 is second to NONE.

  • Mystical Mike

    Messi is very likable and plays with a smile on his face, where as Ronoldo is an arrogant prick.

    Messi all day long

  • charlie coffey

    @Dante. I doubt if FIFA on the ps3 is the most reliable source! Also I don’t think I ever saw Michael Jordan play footy. Cricket was his game.

    @Mike. Unfortunately arrogant pricks often make good footballers as they have belief in themselves. See Diego Maradona.

  • Ben McAleer

    Messi easy. His work-rate is higher than Ronaldo’s and when things don’t go his way, he doesn’t do his stupid pout and throw his toys out the pram. As good as Ronaldo is (and he is very, very good) Messi hands down.

  • Keith

    The whole argument has been in Messi’s fair!

  • Omagal Loteba

    Its very clear-Messi is the best. Ronalso has used is 90% capability while Messing is still firing at 75%.

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