So right it should be Ron’

by admin

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi sit atop football’s Everest as the world’s two supreme players.  Some observers have tentatively suggested others are equally deserving of breathing such rarefied air. Messi’s team mates at Barcelona, Xavi and Iniestia, are certainly frequently mentioned in such regard. However, the comparison between these two and Leo and Ronnie is at best ambitious and at worst downright ignorant. Granted the little Spaniards are wonderful footballers, blessed with sublime vision and an ethereal touch; yet what Xavi and Iniesta cannot lay claim to is a regularly consistent output of the spectacular. And by the spectacular, I mean the ability to score fantastic goals at a staggering rate. execute mesmerising tricks, run with the ball at devastating pace and strike set pieces with ferocious accuracy and whip. In most of these departments you will find our Spanish pretenders somewhat lagging behind Messi and Ronaldo. 

It would be naïve to suggest that football greatness is determined by anything other than the above criteria. Of course passing is an integral aspect of the game, but having players with otherworldly ability in this respect, generally tends to dictate team greatness, as opposed to individual greatness. Barcelona are a case in point. An extraordinary unit blessed with a plethora of players who treasure possession so keenly, one can imagine they would more happily give away their own balls than the ball with which they create such perfection.

It is in this utopian environment that Lionel Messi has been given the platform to display his astonishing talent. As Barcelona have become more successful, so his goal tally has increased and so the plaudits heaped upon the Argentinean’s back have become more voluble and forceful. Indeed if praise were a burden, Messi would not have the strength to shoulder his.

Ronaldo, by contrast, in recent months seems to have fallen slightly behind Messi in terms of public acclamation. Whereas once the call of who’s better was merely a matter of heads or tails, it would now seem that the coin is double-sided – with both engraved with the face of Messi. A man of Ronaldo’s inflated egotism cannot like this turn of events; and if he does feel aggrieved then he would be absolutely right in doing so.

The reason is quite simple: Ronaldo is the greater of football’s two deities. At least he is until Messi steps out of his Barcelona comfort zone and moulds a team to the forcefulness of his own will. This is what Ronaldo has done, firstly at Manchester United and now at Real Madrid. Of course, Ronaldo was surrounded by great players at Manchester United, but it was still a team lacking an identity – and with Ryan Giggs in his mid-career slump and Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes inconsistent – creativity.

After two years finding his feet, Ronaldo exploded into life amidst a bombardment of goals so diverse, there was not a type he didn’t score. And here we touch upon another reason why Ronaldo is superior. Not only does his game rely less on playing with those around him on a similar wave length, it is also comfortably more multi-faceted. He scores more goals from outside the box, is in another stratosphere with regards heading and his deadball ability is also more honed. Add to this the preening flamboyance he brings onto the pitch and you really do have football’s supreme individual.

Often a criticism levelled at Ronaldo is that he is too much of an individual; less interested in team glory than his own. This is nonsense. Has George Best’s legend been tainted by the fact that he was a mercurial individual talent? Of course it hasn’t and quite rightly so. It is Ronaldo’s dynamic individualism which makes him such a phenomenon. Why should he rely on team mates far less gifted, when he is completely capable of doing it all himself?

So, whilst received football wisdom now favours Messi’s claims to the top spot, when it comes to the world’s best footballer there really is only one Ronaldo!

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  • Marc Sibbons

    Good article mate. I agree with you that Ronaldo has more attributes than Messi, but i still feel Messi is slightly better than him. In big games especially Messi seems to edge it. In the World Cup, Messi was a starring light in a less than impressive Argentine side whilst Ron wasn’t at the races for Portugal. The Champs league final a few years back when Messi scored the winning goal over Man Utd, he trumped Ron throughout the match and finally this season, Messi was amazing during their 5-0 drubbing of Madrid whilst Ron was invisible. That’s why i think he is slightly better.

  • Tim Kiek

    I agree that Ronaldo was pretty dire by his own incredible standards at the World Cup; though Messi was by no means the player he is at Barcelona either. I think with the other two examples you give it is a false comparison. On each occasion, Ronaldo was playing for a markedly inferior team. However great a player is, it is pretty difficult to shine when the opposition monopolise the possession – and on the same token, far easier for Messi to play as sublimely as he undoubtedly did….especially in the 5-0 drubbing of Real which was absolutely ridiculous football. I do still feel that Messi wouldn’t be as effective as Ronaldo was at Utd, or is now at Madrid if he had played for them, as his game is very dependent on playing with like-minded team mates. It’s far harder after all, to play lightening ‘one twos’ with G Nev than Dani Alves! Agree that a case can be made for either, it has just been irking me that people tend to say Messi is the greatest without looking at the bigger picture!

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