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How Messi and Ronaldo changed football in the last decade

The Messi vs Ronaldo debate can finally take a break after the Argentine won his fifth Ballon d’Or title on Monday. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

The Messi vs Ronaldo debate can finally take a break after the Argentine won his fifth Ballon d’Or title on Monday. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

The Messi vs Ronaldo debate can finally take a break after the Argentine won his fifth Ballon d’Or title on Monday.

The Messi vs Ronaldo debate can finally take a break after the Argentine won his fifth Ballon d’Or title on Monday. Lionel Messi has now extended the record he already held with no other player having won the FIFA World Player of the Year award more than three times.

Year 2015 was not really one of the best scoring years for Messi as he scored less than a goal per match - his lowest since 2011- but it was special because he scored those goals at crucial moments that led his team to win trophies. Who can forget his two brilliant goals against Bayern Munich that took his team to the Champions League final and ultimately to the title. His exceptional goal against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final, where he made an amazing run from the midfield, was nominated for the 'FIFA Puskas Goal of the Year' award that was won by Brazil’s Wendell Lira.

Ronaldo made his La Liga debut with Real Madrid in 2009 and since then he and Messi have had the monopoly in the La Liga and also the game. Their spectacular individual performances have made other great players look ordinary and they have taken Barcelona-Real Madrid rivalry to a new level where El Clasico can’t be matched by any other contest in football.

While Ronaldo has been a goal-scoring machine with an incredible record of scoring more than a goal per game, Messi, who was already doing a great job at Barca, has been inspired to play even better and has broken almost every record in the League.

Messi became Barcelona's all-time leading scorer at the age of 24 when he broke Gerd Muller's record for the most goals scored in a single season (73), and in 2014 he also became the all-time leading scorer in La Liga. Everytime Messi breaks a record, Ronaldo comes up with a spectacular performance to show that they are at the same level.


Ronaldo has finished ahead for Messi in terms of goal-scoring in last two Spanish league seasons and also has the most impressive goal-scoring ratio in the league history.

One thing that makes Messi look better and a more complete player is that he has evolved himself into a playmaker and is great at building attacks. We have seen him make some brilliant assists to create goal-scoring opportunities for his team-mates against the best of defensive walls.

Ronaldo, on the other hand, is more athletic and a highly-motivated individual who is always trying to improve his game. While Messi is more of a team player, Ronaldo, once he gets the ball, likes to make solo runs and when near the goalpost is one the most dangerous players and can score goals from different angles and positions with his improvising style and quick feet movement.

As Messi won his fifth Ballon d’Or, just look at how these two players have polarised this title and have changed the game in last one decade.

Their ability to score goals relentlessly every game year by year makes them two of the greatest players of all time and they have created a wide gap between them and other players of this generation, which is very hard to fill. Kaka won the Ballon d’Or in 2007 and that was it. After that it has been just Messi and Ronaldo. It has been more than eight years that no one has come even close to challenge their dominance.

Had Argentina won the final of 2015 FIFA World Cup against Germany, the debate of who is the greatest of all time in football could have been much easier to settle. But Messi has not yet won a major tournament with his national side, so his club performance is the only criteria to judge. As a club player, he has been exceptional for Barcelona since making his senior debut in 2004; and at 28, he still has chance to win a World Cup to silence his critics who think he can only play for Barcelona because they are quite simply the best team in the world.

Ronaldo is going to turn 31 next month and it will now get really tough for him to catch up with Messi. Football as a game demands high level of physical endurance and Ronaldo’s game is also more about athleticism than flair, but his performance may decline with age and he might find it very tough to overhaul Messi’s records. He is getting a strong competition from Gareth Bale at Real Madrid, who will play the central role; and with the likes of Neymar and Luis Suarez reaching their peak at Barca, Ronaldo now has not just one player to beat.

With age on his side, Messi holds a big advantage against the Portuguese but Ronaldo has been a delight to watch on the field and can surprise us with many more records with his determination.