If only there was a tournament that involved both

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s Stats at International Tournaments Compared

 

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. It’s the rivalry that’s shaped football for the better part of the last two decades and there could yet be a few more chapters to be told in the wonderful story.

Both men are competing at major international tournaments this summer as Ronaldo looks to help Portugal to their second European Championship success, while Messi hopes to steer Argentina to a second successive Copa America crown. Despite their advancing ages, the two greatest footballers to grace the beautiful game are still the talismen of their respective nations.

They have superior records to all of their peers at both club and international level, but how do they compare to one another? Well, below is a comparison of how the pair have fared for their countries on the biggest stage. The competitions that have been taken into consideration are

Goals

Messi surprisingly leads the way

Lionel Messi in action for Argentina

Ronaldo may be the top goalscorer in football history, but it’s his long-term foe who has netted more times on the greatest international stages. The South American wizard has featured in five World Cup tournaments and the Copa America seven times.

Granted, he has made more appearances than Ronaldo in these competitions, largely due to Argentina’s extended runs in comparison to Portugal’s. The 37-year-old has scored an impressive 26 times in his 62 appearances, while the Portuguese centre-forward holds a record of 22 strikes in 51 games.

While he hasn’t netted as many times as Messi, Ronaldo does still have a better goals-per-game ratio than his rival. The ex-Manchester United and Real Madrid hero averages a goal every 0.43 games, which is marginally better than Messi’s record (0.42). These fine margins are evidence of how close things have been between the two superstars over the past 15+ years.

There is a slightly bigger differential between the minutes-per-goal rate of the two players, with Ronaldo finding a way to goal more frequently (every 194.6 minutes) than Messi (every 207.7 minutes). The excellent duo have both scored one hat-trick each.

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi – Goals

Statistic
Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi

Appearances
51


62

Minutes Played
4,282
5,400

Goals
22
26

Goals-per-game
0.43
0.42

Minutes-per-goal
194.6
207.7

Hat-tricks
1
1

Penalty Goals
6
7

Assists

Messi prevails once again

Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Portugal

It would be expected that Messi would have registered the most assists of the two men, as he’s made a career from his ability to forge chances for his teammates. His dazzling performances are often geared towards setting up opportunities for others rather than applying the finishing touch himself.

In his younger days, Barcelona’s greatest-ever player featured as a right-winger. This allowed him the freedom to either go down the outside of his opposing full-back and put a cross into the penalty area or cut inside and lift a delicate cross into the back post with his wand of a left foot.

The roles of Messi and Ronaldo have been different over the years as, even in his days as a winger, the latter has always been centred around scoring goals and being the man to claim glory. However, the discrepancy in this metric may still be slightly more than many would expect as Messi blows his counterpart away with 26 assists to nine.

This means the number of overall goal contributions is tipped in the favour of the Inter Miami ace, as he’s got a combined tally of 52 in comparison to Ronaldo’s 31. The creative numbers also lead to Messi taking the advantage in terms of minutes per goal/assist.

Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi – Assists

Statistic
Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi

Appearances
51
62

Minutes Played
4,282
5,400

Assists
9
26

Minutes per goal/assist
138.1
103.8

Overall Goal Contributions
31
52

Major Honours

Messi completes a clean sweep

Lionel Messi with the World Cup trophy

Argentina are the most successful nation in football history, while the same cannot be said of Portugal. However, Messi is unfortunate to have missed the glory days of eras gone by as the little magician has only claimed two major international trophies. Both successes have come in the twilight years of his career, too.

He was instrumental in his country’s historic win against France in the 2022 World Cup final, in what was one of the most dramatic games of football ever. This added to the Copa America triumph he was also a big part of in 2021.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo’s story on the international stage has been one of heartbreak. He will always have the Euro 2016 success on his list of honours, but knowing the pride of the man, he will feel it’s not his achievement as he missed the majority of the final through injury. This may go down as the only European Championship/World Cup success the greatest goalscorer of all time wins with time running out on his glistening career.

 

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