Ahead of the latest showdown between the two great rivals, we give you FIVE Ballon d’Or winners who reckon Cristiano Ronaldo is better than Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo is set to face Messi for the first time since he swapped Real Madrid for Juventus in a Champions League group-stage match on Tuesday night.
The encounter at Camp Nou adds a new twist to the never-ending debate on who is the greatest of all time (GOAT) between the pair. It’s never been an easy call, with many different opinions on the topic.
But with five Ballon d’Or winners and legends of the game favoring Ronaldo as the GOAT, could the debate already be settled?
Ronaldo enjoyed a brilliant two-and-half-year spell under Zidane at Real Madrid, scoring 112 goals in 114 games and winning three consecutive Champions League titles.
The Portuguese’s performances were so impressive that Zidane, who won the Ballon d’Or in 1998 himself, stated CR7 is ‘by far’ the best of his generation – snubbing Messi in the process.
“Cristiano is the best player of his generation by far,” said Zidane as quoted on Goal.
“He makes the differences in key matches and he deserves all the prizes he has won.”
The former Liverpool and Manchester United striker faced a young Ronaldo five times between 2003 and 2008 at club and international level. He never went head-to-head with Messi, though.
But Owen, who won the Ballon d’Or in 2001, declared Ronaldo a better all-round footballer than Messi after the star’s Champions League hat-trick against Bayern Munich in April 2017.
“He just doesn’t miss does he,” Owen told BT Sport as quoted by the Express.
“The chances he misses you can count on one hand in his career. Goalscoring is the hardest art in football and he makes it look so easy. Head, left foot, right foot.
“Messi is a decent header of a ball but if you’re looking at all-round players, you go head-to-head with Messi and Ronaldo, you’d say Ronaldo has a lot more different attributes let’s say.
“He’s probably always been quicker, right foot, left foot and header of a ball.
“I think Messi is outstanding in certain attributes but as an all-round physique, Ronaldo is such an all-round player.”
Who better to settle the GOAT debate than by somebody who was recently acknowledged as a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner by France Football?
Aside from his own skills, of course, Pele has seen his fair share of talent down the years. But he believes Ronaldo’s consistency makes him stand out compared to Messi.
“Today the best player in the world is Cristiano Ronaldo,” Pele told YouTube channel Pilhado.
“I think he’s the best, because he’s more consistent, but you can’t forget about Messi, of course, but he’s not a striker.”
The 1987 Ballon d’Or winner has never held back his thoughts in the past, no matter how controversial they may be.
And March 2019 was no exception, with Gullit declaring Cristiano Ronaldo will go down as a greater player than Lionel Messi in the history books.
This came following Ronaldo’s stunning hat-trick against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.
“I think he is [the greatest of all time],” said Gullit on Ronaldo, according to the Express.
“Cristiano won also with his country, European Championship. He’s done it with all the clubs he has been at, Champions League also with Man United.
“He’s been in three different countries, best footballer all the time. He won how many times the Golden Ball? Five times, six times?
“What he achieved for any team he’s played for is unbelievable. Messi couldn’t do it with Argentina, he’s been close. But it counts if you also do that.
“Messi also can be there with all the best footballers but it’s a little bit the icing on the cake the fact that he played in three different countries and he’s done it.
“He did it his way and you can only say ‘bow for this guy’ and say what a player, unbelievable. They all admire him for his work ethic, even now. He’s wanting to be more fit.”
Sir Bobby Charlton
The legendary English and Manchester United goalscorer respects Messi’s talents, but he feels Ronaldo is the better player.
“Messi is a splendid player, but to me, is not better than Cristiano,” said Charlton, who won the Ballon d’Or in 1966, in 2014.
“He was a magnificent player to us, it was a wonder to have him. So it doesn’t surprise me everything he is doing at Real Madrid.”