Messi & Ronaldo Stats

With the Ballon d’Or coming up, fans of both players have become increasingly nasty (and maybe even a little crazy) about how terrible the other player is and why their favorite player deserves the prize so much more then the other one.

As often happens with these sorts of debates, there are a lot of “facts” being tossed around that – surprise, surprise – aren’t actually true.

So here’s my attempt to start to set the record straight.

Player Goals Assists Points Won Penalties Hat Tricks
Lionel Messi 50 16 29 10 8
Cristiano Ronaldo 46 12 26 12 7

(Please note that they both missed one penalty in the league last season – Messi against Sevilla, and Ronaldo against Athletic Bilbao.)

There are the stats. As you can see, there’s really not that much difference between them, though Messi does edge Ronaldo out in every category but penalties.

So what about in big games? Surely if you just look at big games, one of them must put the other to shame.

Sorry, but no.

Team Messi Goals (Penalties) Ronaldo Goals (Penalties)
Athletic Bilbao 2 (1) 3 (2)
Atlético Madrid 4 5 (3)
Barcelona N/A 1
Levante 3 (1) 3 (1)
Málaga 6 (2) 3
Real Madrid 0 N/A
Valencia 4 1
Total 19 (4) 16 (6)

Again, their stats are pretty similar, though Messi does have an edge, especially against the other two teams that qualified for the Champions League. At the end of the day? Neither is way ahead of the other, not in terms of these stats.

What about the Champions League? There must be some way to present the information to lead one to the conclusion that Ronaldo deserved to win top scorer.

There is, certainly, but not in a way that makes sense.

Here are two more tables.

Lionel Messi

Team Games League Rank League Placement Team Rank Goals (Penalties)
AC Milan 4 4 2 13 3 (3)
Bayer Leverkusen 2 3 5 39 6
BATE Borisov 2 21 1 57 2
Viktoria Plzen 2 19 3 91 3 (1)

Cristiano Ronaldo

Team Games League Rank League Placement Team Rank Goals (Penalties)
Bayern Munich 2 3 2 3 2 (1)
Lyon 2 5 4 11 2 (1)
CSKA Moscow 2 9 2 16 3
Ajax Amsterdam 2 8 1 16 1
APOEL 2 13 2 60 2

A lot of people look at this and say that Messi didn’t deserve to get top scorer in the Champions League. This assertion annoys me – a goal is a goal, and Ronaldo had plenty of chance to put goals past less accomplished teams, too – and he did.

Here’s what the goals look like it if you just include goals scored against the top 6 leagues. 6, by the way, is not an arbitrary number: leagues 1-3 (Spanish, English, and German) get 4 teams in the Champions League, leagues 4-6 (Italy, France, and Portugal) get 3 teams, and everyone else gets one or two.

Player Goals (Penalties)
Lionel Messi 9 (3)
Mario Gomez 8
Didier Drogba 6
Cristiano Ronaldo 4 (2)

I’m not going to deconstruct by team ranking, because while team ranking determines your pot, it’s often not great at judging who the best teams really are. Ajax, for example, are ranked far above Borussia Dortmund. If you’d like to go through, though, please feel free.


2 responses to “Messi & Ronaldo Stats

  1. Yesterday during the RM match someone told me that Ronaldo is better than Messi because Ronaldo’s goals are from farther away and Messi’s goals are too close.

    All I could do was shake my head.

    • People scare me sometimes with how willfully blind they are. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to argue that Ronaldo is better intelligently, because I’ve seen it done, but mostly, people are just spewing arguments that makes no logical sense.

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