Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have long confirmed their place in football’s pantheon of all time greats and last weekend the pair polished their thrones by reaching a millennial goal scoring milestone.
When Messi knocked in the equaliser against Atletico Madrid on Saturday to notch up his 482nd goal for club and country he took the deadly duo’s combined goal tally to 1,000 scored for clubs and countries.
And if their greatness needed underlining Ronaldo stepped up the very next day to continue the pattern – smashing in a hat-trick against Espanyol.
Everyone knows how good they are – they’ve shared the Ballon d’Or for eight consecutive years during which no other player has managed to even threaten their status as the world’s best two.
Messi scored his first for the Catalan giants in May 2005 – coming off the bench as a late substitute to make it 2-0 for Barca against Albacete.
In 105 appearances for Argentina, the maestro has scored 49 goals so will be keen to hit the 50 milestone in his next appearance for his country.
Ronaldo’s first strike was back in October 2002 for Sporting Lisbon. He played 31 games for Lisbon From there he moved to Manchester United for six seasons, banging in 118 goals in 292 games for the Red Devils before fulfilling his ambition to play for Madrid.
Since the move to the Bernabeu in 2009 the Portuguese has been on fire, averaging more than a goal a game with 343 scored from just 328 appearances.
Ronaldo has played 123 games for Portugal during which he’s hit 55 goals for his country.
His personal tally is an astonishing 521 goals in just 724 games.
THE STAR AND TEAM PLAYER
Ronaldo (30) is painted as the star individual and often portrayed as egoistic and concerned for his own personal records and achievements by a transfixed global media.
Messi (28), on the other hand, is his opposite – a number 10 who epitomises team play and collective achievement.
Messi might have scored fewer (so far) but his goals-per-game strike rate is better than Ronaldo’s – 482 in 612 appearances, and his trophy haul is also far better.
It may explain his record five Ballon d’Or trophies compared to Ronaldo’s three – Messi has won 26 club trophies for Barcelona while Ronaldo has 16 major trophies to show for his time at Lisbon, Man Utd and Real.
He broke Barcelona’s all time goal scoring record aged just 24 and eclipsed Gerd Muller’s 39-year-old record for the most goals in a single season by hitting 73
Ronaldo’s hat-trick against Espanyol was the 39th of his career and the goals took the Portuguese level with Barca’s Luis Suárez at the top of the Pichichi chart of La Liga’s leading scorers on 19 for this season from 22 games
In all competitions Ronaldo has scored 30 goals for Real in 28 games.
Messi has scored 36 hat-tricks so far in his career and has 12 goals from 16 games in La Liga and 21 to show from 26 games for Barcelona this season.
By Joe Cahal