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The Ronaldo Messi Effect


Football has had many great player rivalries over the years- Iker Casillas vs Gianluigi Buffon, Patrick Viera vs Roy Keane, and even a three-way debate between Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, and Paul Scholes. However, there is one rivalry that towers above all others in the history of world football. This great rivalry is the debate of the century among football fans everywhere – Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo.

This rivalry however is unlike most rivalries in professional sport. It is not driven by malice, hatred, or even dislike. This is a rivalry driven by mutual respect and sheer brilliance, determination, and an inbuilt hunger to be the best.

ronaldo messi effect: ronaldo portugal
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For over a decade these two inhuman talents have shared the podium of the best footballer in the world, leaving the rest of the football world so far behind that they’d be a speck in the rearview mirror.

The dominance began in 2008 when Ronaldo claimed his first Ballon d’Or as a Manchester United player has won the Champions League and the Premier League. This was followed by the rise of Lionel Messi to the top of world football launching a period of utter domination with 4 consecutive Ballon d’Or following 4 seasons of unparalleled brilliance from 2009 to 2012 in what is often regarded as the greatest footballing display of all time.

The year 2012 saw Lionel Messi produce a year of footballing quality that had never been witnessed before and may never be witnessed again. Messi smashed all records having scored 91 goals in 69 games as well as providing 22 assists in the same period. It was a year of pure footballing brilliance and it firmly established Messi as the best player in the world.

Just as it looked like Messi was disappearing from his sights, however, Cristiano Ronaldo stepped on the gas as he claimed the Ballon d’Or in 2013. He followed it up by another in 2014 as he led Real Madrid to the historic La Decima i.e. their 10th Champions League title having ended a 12 year wait for the coveted trophy.

Messi was relentless however and in 2015 as a part of the historic MSN trio – Messi, Suarez, and Neymar – Messi claimed Barcelona’s sixth Champions League title and subsequently his fifth Ballon d’Or. With the tally at 5-3, many people began to write Cristiano Ronaldo off. But if the last 15 years have taught us anything, it is that you never, ever write Cristiano Ronaldo off because he will make you eat your words.

From the beginning of 2016 to the end of 2018, Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid absolutely dominated world football winning 3 consecutive Champions League titles with Cristiano Ronaldo at the heart of every clutch moment. This culminated in 2 consecutive Ballon d’Or for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2016 and 2017 and just like that he was back on par with his arch-rival Lionel Messi.

When Luka Modric won the Ballon d’Or somewhat controversially in 2018, a decade-long period of utter domination ended as a player other than Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo lifted the trophy for the first time in 10 years. Obviously, people began to write these two generational talents off again, and obviously, once again Lionel Messi rose to the occasion and claimed his 6th Ballon D’or in 2019.

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These last 12 years have been the rollercoaster of a lifetime as these two football greats have taken us on a journey spanning ten years and a truckload of historic moments, joy, heartbreak, smiles, laughter, tears and a flurry of emotions only football can bring about. Season after season of unbelievable stats and numbers that most players don’t even achieve in their whole careers. Constantly pushing each other on and constantly chasing each other, it has been a spectacle that we must all consider ourselves lucky to have witnessed and to still be witnessing. There have been great players before them and there will be great players after them too, but the standards set by these two legends consistently for one and a half-decade is a bar set so high that it would take something extraordinary to knock them off their pedestal.

While the world goes crazy trying to choose between these two legends, we are just in awe of what we have been lucky enough to witness. Greatness at this level of consistency is something that we must all just put aside our bias and admire because we may never see something like this again in our lifetime. Messi and Ronaldo have taken the football world by storm and have already written their names permanently in the history books as the greatest players to ever grace the beautiful game.

Also Read: The Greatest Miracles Created By Footballers


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