Messi and Ronaldo keep on soaring

By Pete Reilly Source: Global Times Published: 2020/12/24 20:28:39

Cristiano Ronaldo (left) of Juventus is put under pressure by Lionel Messi of Barcelona on December 8 in Barcelona, Spain. Photo: VCG

Messi, Ronaldo. Ronaldo, Messi. The names go hand in hand, and they have done for so long.

Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski may have broken their duopoly on The Best Men's Player at the FIFA Awards this year, but the dynamic duo cannot be touched.

Lewandowski admitted as much.

"Messi and Ronaldo have been ­sitting at the same table, at the top, for a very long time, and that's what makes them incomparable," the Polish striker told France Football. 

"That said, if you take the numbers for this year and even previous ones, I think I'm pretty good in terms of performance and goals scored. 

"Failing to be at the same table as Messi and Ronaldo, I think I can invite them to eat at mine!"

This year might have seen Lewandowski win the Ballon d'Or that he was favorite for, ahead of both Ronaldo and Messi, but the award was not given because of the novel corona­virus pandemic. 

No matter that they would miss out on the odd Ballon d'Or - they have won 11 between them - whether it is a year, a season or merely a match that has passed, the pair seem to break records every week. 

As busy as ever

In recent weeks, the statisticians have been as busy as ever.

Ronaldo made his 100th appearance for Juve and scored his 79th goal. Added to his 19 assists for the Bianconeri he has a remarkable 98 goal contributions in his first century of appearances.

At the same time, Messi had his 900th goal contribution in a Barcelona­ shirt. Preposterously it was his 746th appearance for the club, in which he racked up 644 goals and 258 assists.

Last week, just two games later, Messi added another milestone to his career path, equaling and then surpassing Pele's record of most goals for one club.

The great Brazilian scored 643 goals for Santos. The perhaps even greater Argentine matched that with a goal against Valencia, heading in a cross after his penalty was saved. 

He does not score many with his head - this was his first header in La Liga since March 2017. 

After scoring against Real Valladolid in midweek, the third of a 3-0 win which saw Messi back to his best, Messi now has 644 goals.

Former Barcelona and England striker Gary Lineker was quick to congratulate Messi.

"Messi has scored his 644th goal for Barcelona. He's beaten Pele's record of most goals scored at a single club. This is a record that no one thought would ever be beaten," Lineker wrote on Twitter.

He was then quick to put Messi's achievement in context. 

"To beat Messi's 644 goal record, someone will have to score an average of 43 goals a season for 15 years ... for one club," he wrote.

One Twitter user came back to say that Ronaldo's record of 450 goals in just nine seasons at Real Madrid was better but that misses the point.

We are surely past the point where it is worth debating who is the best of the two, as if it even matters. 

The question really is that anyone as good as them?

Similarities and differences

Some players have had the chance to play with both, with recent Juventus signing Arthur explaining the similarities and differences between Messi and Ronaldo.

"They're champions above all else," Arthur told Spanish newspaper AS earlier this season. 

"In this, Messi and Ronaldo are identical. Concentrated from start to finish, always.

"If they score three goals, they immediately think of the fourth. They never disconnect. It's impressive and at the same time motivating, because they push you to do your best.

"Compared to Messi, Ronaldo talks more and is more accessible. He never backs down if there is a team-mate in need, and he inspires fierce determination."

Miralem Pjanic swapped Juventus for Barcelona in the same deal that took Arthur to Turin. He had his own take on Messi and Ronaldo.

"With the passing of time we will be more capable of evaluating what these two have done in the last 20 years, they are incredible," Pjanic said in an interview with the ­YouTube Spanish football channel Mundo Maldini.

"As a person and player, Ronaldo is spectacular. He's an authentic athlete who takes care of the details.

"Messi is an alien, he's an absolute phenomenon, capable of doing anything with the ball. I see him very focused and centered on Barca and we have to help him in his game."

Recent meet

They met on the pitch recently when Juventus traveled to play Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League, with photos of the pair on the same pitch splashed on the internet and the back pages of the papers.

"Always great to return to Spain and to Catalunya, always hard to play in Camp Nou against one of the best teams I ever faced ... Playing like this, we have nothing to fear until the end of the season," Ronaldo wrote on Twitter after a win where he scored two goals. 

They were his first against Barcelona in the competition, in his sixth game against them. These two always find new ground to break, in that they cannot be split.

Only Messi and Ronaldo know what it is like to play at a time where the other challenger for the world's greatest footballer has been a direct rival.
Newspaper headline: The Best


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