Who's the Best? Ronaldo or Messi?
Which shade of excellence would you prefer?
That's basically the point of any exercise comparing Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. And it's fascinating to explore their particular nuances.
One the one side, you've got a flamboyant, extraordinarily creative Portugese international. One the other, there's a crafty, consistent Argentine who is the four-time FIFA player of the year.
From a financial perspective, Ronaldo is the world's most expensive player. Real Madrid signed him at €80million in the summer of 2009. Then again, Messi has a release clause of €245million.
Cristiano Ronaldo is a player who scores with is head. He's more accurate and efficient in the air than Messi. Is it because of height? It makes sense. Ronaldo stands at 1.85m to Messi's 1.65m.
Still, Messi can conjure up a dramatic header if the opportunity presents itself. Recall that he scored a vital goal against Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League final that sent the play-by-play dude into warbling mode:
Barcelona actually favors more of a tip-tap football style, so you're not going to see Messi score goals in this manner very often.
In terms of the dribbling skills, Ronaldo's patented and dangerous step-over is a now familiar move he deploys to repeatedly beat defenders.
Once the step-over gives him space, Ronaldo relies more on his pace to bolt past players. Meanwhile, the beauty of Messi is his use of natural ability, technique, quick feet, and balance to beat players. In this respect, there is no one better.
Perhaps the main reason why the Argentine has been more successful is his team orientation. Messi's relationship with Xavi and Iniesta -- themselves rated as among the world's best midfielders and passers -- makes it easy for him to score goals from any angle. In contrast, Ronaldo's teammates have been heard to complain about his being selfish on pitch. More than once, Ronaldo has taken a shot when teammates are better placed.
It's Messi's incredible record of club championship titles to accompany his individual accomplishments that gives him the nod as the world's best. At least, at the moment. All-time? That's a discussion for another day, at which point Ronaldo may have added more facts to the argument.