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Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi: historical head-to-head record

They may be two of the greatest players ever to have graced the Beautiful Game, but which of them has the most wins?

Messi vs Ronaldo
AS English

As many people look forward to a money-spinning, high-profile, but ultimately meaningless friendly between ‘Riyadh Season’ and Ligue 1′s Paris Saint-Germain, I thought it was worth reflecting on the head-to-head records of the two players everyone has come to see. If you’re not already aware, Riyadh Season is being made up by an all-star team of players from Saudi Pro League clubs Al Nassr and Al Hilal.

Ronaldo-Messi: defining a generation

Defining much of the last decade plus has been the rivalry of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, reaching its headline-grabbing pinnacle while both were in their pomp at Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively. What days those were.

So to now. The Portuguese legend swapped his failed attempt to reignite Manchester United with a move to Al-Nassr, while Argentina’s golden child remains at one of Europe’s elite clubs, targeting another Champions League medal to add to his recent World Cup accolade.

Of course, the debate will rumble on about who was the greatest, Ronaldo or Messi, and devoted fans have their scarves tied so tightly that they’ll not be able to take in the oxygen of an opposing view. It’s like Coke or Pepsi, Batman or Superman, or pineapple on pizza: everyone has their own opinion, and many are unwilling to move. These two footballing gods have been going head-to-head for years, racking up goals, trophies, and followers along the way. Their numbers are silly!

Messi vs Ronaldo
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Messi vs RonaldoAS English

On one hand, you’ve got Cristiano, the all-around athlete with muscles that could crush a watermelon. He’s got the fancy footwork, the rocket shots, and the “I’m-better-than-you” smirk that makes you want to both high-five him and punch him in the face at the same time. Or is that just me? On the other, there’s wee Leo, the pint-sized wizard with the ball at his feet. He’s got the quick moves, the fancy assists, and the “I’m-too-humble-to-smirk” grin that makes you want to give him a hug and ask him to teach you his secrets. There’s clearly another edge to him too, just one we see less often.

Both players have had incredible careers, winning multiple Ballons d’Or -- if you give any credence to those -- and breaking records left, right and through the middle. But how have they fared when directly up against each other? Saudi Arabia marks game 35.

Messi vs Ronaldo
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Messi vs RonaldoAS English

Maybe we can all just agree it’s been wonderful to have been alive to watch them strut their stuff. I have witnessed their moments of magic in a stadium on several occasions and, more than that, it was a privilege to see how they interacted with their teammates, through the good times and the bad.

And unlike Pelé, Cruyff, Di Stefano, Eusebio and even Maradona, technology allows virtually every stride of these two potential GOATs to live on for generations to come, just adding to the longevity of the debate.


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