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The “GOAT” debate: Messi vs Ronaldo


Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, perhaps two of the greatest names to ever grace football to this day, might also hold the most intense rivalry. With both of their various historical and maybe even unbreakable achievements/milestones, will the “GOAT” (Greatest of all time) debate ever be settled? 

The two players have had a significant impact on football.  Ronaldo’s unmatched physicality, potent strikes, and unwavering work ethic have propelled Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Portugal to multiple victories. Messi, on the other hand, has become an iconic figure in the world of football thanks to his mesmerizing dribbling ability, close ball control, and vision, which have taken Barcelona and Argentina to new heights. Some can say this rivalry first started back in 2007, when Messi and Ronaldo finished as the top 3 runner ups for the Ballon D’or behind Kaka with Ronaldo in second place, and Messi in third place. That year, Messi was cited in an interview saying, “Cristiano Ronaldo is an extraordinary player and it would be brilliant to be in the same team as him.” The first time that the two faced each other was in a match for the 2007-2008 UEFA Champions League semi-final game which Manchester eventually ended up winning and then advancing to the final, but it was from there the Messi and Ronaldo were pitted against each other as rivals. However, in the 2009 UEFA Champions League final, Ronaldo’s Manchester United and Messi’s Barcelona team were set to play each other in a match described as a “dream clash” to “settle the battle” on who was the best player in the world. Barcelona ended up winning the UCL with Messi scoring a header, a 2-0 win. 

Many people might argue that Messi is the better player, or that he stands out more and there might be a couple or reasons to back those statements up. Messi’s influence on team play is well known; it highlights his smooth transition and his ability to create opportunities for teammates with his superb passing and vision. While Ronaldo is unquestionably a team player, Messi’s style is praised for its fluidity and direct impact on the success of the squad as a whole. Messi’s achievements with Barcelona during their heyday are noteworthy. He has won various titles both nationally and internationally, including multiple La Liga and UEFA Champions League championships. With his national team, Messi has led them to a FIFA World Cup (2022), a Finalissima (2022) and the Copa America (2021).  His long-lasting contributions are seen as evidence of his impact throughout time on a team’s performance. Messi has been consistently recognized as the finest player in the world, as seen by his eight FIFA Ballon d’Or wins in the years 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2019, 2021, and 2023.

Of course there is also that side that wants to claim Ronaldo is the better player. With his outstanding physical ability, which is characterized by his strength, speed, and agility, is the foundation of his style of play. This physicality gives him an advantage in some areas of the game as he can overcome opponents, win aerial duels, and cover long distances on the field. Ronaldo is praised for more reasons than only his extraordinary agility. In the later stages of his career, he showed versatility that gives his play another level of complexity. He started out as a winger and developed into a central striker. Ronaldo has shown that he can be successful in football anywhere by winning championships in a number of elite European leagues, such as Liga Portugal, the English Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, and currently the Saudi Pro League. He has lead his teams to many trophies such as 5 UEFA Champions Leagues (2008, 2014, 2016, and 2017) 1 UEFA Euro (2016) 5 FIFA Club World Cups (2008, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017) and numerous league wins, as well as being a 5-time Ballon D’or winner (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017).  

Ronaldo and Messi are most definitely the greatest players football might ever see. With a rivalry so fiery and interesting, fans were always hooked from the moment it started. Undoubtedly, they will continue to have a lasting impact and will forever be remembered throughout football’s great history as a rivalry that will never be settled. 

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About the Contributor
Arisa Rahman, Contributor
Arisa Rahman is a contributor for the Kingsley Voice. She has been a part of the team since 2023.

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