In Depth

Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo: the rivalry and quotes about the stars

A look at how the two superstar footballers compare

With 11 Ballon d’Or awards between them there’s no doubt that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will go down in history as two of the best football players ever.

Messi has spent his whole senior club career with FC Barcelona, where he has won multiple trophies including Spain’s La Liga ten times and the Uefa Champions League four times. On 17 April, Barcelona won the Copa del Rey final after Messi scored twice in the 4-0 win over Athletic Bilbao. 

Portugal skipper Ronaldo has played his club football with Sporting Lisbon (2002-03), Manchester United (2003-09), Real Madrid (2009-2018) and Juventus (2018-present).

His trophy collection includes five Champions League winners’ medals and league titles in England, Spain and Italy. He won the European Championship with Portugal in 2016 and has scored 102 goals for his national team. Ali Daei’s men’s record of 109 international goals for Iran is now within Ronaldo’s sights.

On 20 January 2021 Ronaldo scored as Juve won the Italian Super Cup with a 2-0 victory over Napoli.

2020-21 club season stats (all competitions)
  • Messi for Barcelona: 37 goals, 12 assists, 46 appearances, 1 red card
  • Ronaldo for Juventus: 35 goals, 5 assists, 42 appearances
What people say about Messi 

Cristiano Ronaldo: “I really admire the career he has had so far, and, for his part, he has already said that he had trouble when I left the Spanish league because it is a rivalry that he appreciates. It is a good rivalry that exists in football, but this is no exception. Michael Jordan had rivals in basketball, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were great rivals in Formula One, the only common point between all the big rivalries in the sport is that they are healthy.”

Pep Guardiola: “He is the best player I have ever seen. The best thing about him is not what he does but how simple he makes everything look.He is not just the best player because he can dribble past three or four players, it is because he does it better than anyone in the world.”

Neymar: “I played with Messi, who is, for me, one of the greatest footballers of all time, and he is my idol in football.”

Diego Maradona: “I have seen the player who will inherit my place in Argentine football and his name is Messi. Messi is a genius.”

What people say about Ronaldo 

Brazil legend Pele, after Ronaldo reached 770 official goals: “Life is a solo flight. Each makes his own journey. And what a beautiful journey you are having. I admire you a lot, I love watching you play and this is no secret to anyone. Congratulations on breaking my record of goals in official matches. My only regret is not being able to give you a hug today.”

Lionel Messi: “(Ronaldo) is always there scoring goals in all the games and taking part in his club and national side. He has been doing that for many years and whether he is at his peak or a bit below it makes no difference.”

George Best: “There have been a few players described as the new George Best over the years, but this is the first time it’s been a compliment to me.”

Zinedine Zidane: “When you play with Ronaldo on your team, you are already 1-0 up.”

Gerard Pique: “The best player I have ever played against has to be Ronaldo. You cannot afford to take your eyes off him.”

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