Ronaldo turns 35... here's why he's BETTER than Messi!

Cristiano Ronaldo (Getty Images)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his 35th birthday on Wednesday (February 5), so it feels like an opportune time - with the backing of stats - to prove how the Portuguese attacker is better than fierce rival Lionel Messi.

Firstly, yes, we should all be grateful that we live in an era where two of the game's all-time greats are playing at the same time and it's hard to argue who is better.

But that's not fun!

So, below, Sport24's Baden Gillion details why Ronaldo edges the debate as to who is the greatest of all time (GOAT).

Breaking down physical and psychological barriers in sport is always the hardest feat to achieve.

Roger Bannister became the first runner to break the 4-minute mile mark in 1954. It had long been thought that it was far from achievable and perhaps even deadly for those who tried.


During the 2007/08 season, Ronaldo scored an era-defining 42 goals as a winger for Manchester United, picking up his first Ballon d'Or award. The then 23-year-old changed the role of wide players and the perspective of what was achievable for attackers who weren't out-and-out strikers.

Messi soon followed suit and picked up his first individual award the following season by scoring 38 goals for Barcelona - sparking a period of dominance over world football between the two.

The Argentine then remarkably won the Ballon d'Or three years on the spin - in 2010, 2011 and 2012 - but an underlying factor in his dominance was that he was playing in arguably the best ever club team.

That Barca side included Xavi and Iniesta (probably Spain's best-ever midfielders), David Villa (Spain's record goalscorer), Sergio Busquets (the best holding midfielder), Dani Alves (arguably the best ever right-back) alongside other world-class players.

Lionel Messi v Cristiano Ronaldo all time goals.

The most direct comparison we can make between the two is when they both played in La Liga with Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Ronaldo's scoring average in all competitions between 2009 and 2018 (1.03) is 0.04 percentage points higher than Messi's (0.99).

Messi played 38 games more than Ronaldo in all competitions between 2009 and 2018 (7.98%) and scored 22 goals more than the Portuguese star (4.66%).

Statistical breakdown of Lionel Messi and Cristian

The pinnacle of club competition in world football is undoubtedly the Champions League and again Ronaldo comes out on top in this regard.

Ronaldo holds the record for most goals in the competition with 126, but what's truly staggering is that he has scored 42 goals from the quarter-finals onwards compared to Messi's 16.

Top 5 scorers in Champions League from quarter-fin

The biggest criticism aimed at Messi is best summed up by a now-famous phrase by commentator Andy Gray: "but can he do it on a cold rainy night at Stoke?".

Although the Argentine has won everything at club level, he has never played outside of La Liga whereas Ronaldo in 2019 became the first player in history to win league titles in the English Premier League (Manchester United), the Spanish league (Real Madrid) and Serie A (Juventus).

At international level too, Messi has never lifted a trophy with Argentina compared to Ronaldo who led a less-fancied Portugal side to the 2016 European and UEFA Nations League titles.

Ronaldo has also scored 99 goals in 164 games with his national team with a scoring average (0.6) which is 0.09 percentage points higher than Messi's (0.51) who has scored 70 goals in 138 games.

Statistical breakdown between Lionel Messi and Cri

In official games (excluding friendlies), Messi is responsible for (combining goals and assists) 0.69 goals per game. Ronaldo, counting goals and assists, generates 0.9 goals per official match.

The Portugal captain boasts a goals-to-games ratio better than Messi at both World Cup and continental (European, South American) tournament level.

Statistical breakdown between Lionel Messi and Cri
Statistical breakdown between Lionel Messi and Cri

The duo will undoubtedly go down in history as two of the best ever to grace a soccer pitch.

We'll have to wait a while for when they retire to be able to compare their careers in totality as to who was better.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
loading... Live
Cape Town City 0
Stellenbosch FC 0
loading... Live
Burnley 0
Arsenal 1
Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
41% - 12471 votes
12% - 3724 votes
19% - 5657 votes
3% - 787 votes
1% - 299 votes
2% - 710 votes
5% - 1548 votes
8% - 2545 votes
3% - 1055 votes
Water sports
1% - 274 votes
American sports
1% - 390 votes
3% - 1016 votes