Position: Left Attacking Winger/Striker
Cristiano Ronaldo is a tall, muscular, physical, powerful, explosive and lightning quick winger/striker who, to all intents and purposes, can be defined as the perfect athlete. Injuries rarely occurs and he’s almost never substituted due to his ability to play at 100% for the entire 90 minutes.
Known for his tricks, his running with the ball and powerful shots he can be called a direct footballer, but specific examples, like Portugal against Czech Republic, show him to be an intricate and comfortable passer of the ball.
He is often accused of playing for himself, but when you have his confidence and his ability, you would be inclined to want to see if you can take on 4 players and rocket the ball in the top corner.
There was a stage of his career where he could be accused of being selfish but especially in the last year he has become a more team oriented player, closing down, going back to defend and battle for the ball due to Portugal’s and Real Madrid’s willingness to play on the counter attack and his sudden desire to win.
Position: Roaming Striker/Former Winger
People often define Messi as a player of two stages, when he was new and shiny he was free to fly up and down the wings, dribbling and marauding past players with his unbelievable pace and unwillingness to lose the ball. Now however he has become a central striker and the centre piece of Barcelona attacks, he can be found on the last man occasionally but spends most of his time dictating Barcelona’s rhythm in the final third by significantly outclassing the passing midfield or Iniesta and Xavi, which is no mean feat.
His vision, his balance, his pace and his touch are his strongest abilities where some men panic on the ball and where to pass it, he has 5 options at any one time, anywhere on the pitch, and he could play it there blindfolded and with one foot off the ground.
Though he sometimes appears more pedestrian compared to the hustle and bustle of Ronaldo’s frantic sprinting, tricks and shooting rockets but Messi is just as influential.
Both players are very different, but both irreplaceable in their teams as you see by their constant name on the team sheet and rare substitutions. Messi, if anything, is more vital than Ronaldo is to his squad because he is really the only exciting thing about Barcelona, without him on the pitch they lack flair and craft. The chief difference however is Ronaldo’s adaptability, he could be successful in any team in the world as his individual ability and skill is enough, with Messi however he didn’t truly become the best in the world until everything at Barcelona became about him, it’s arguable that with different tactics in a different team he would be nowhere near as effective as Ronaldo could be anywhere.
Who wins on style of play:
Ronaldo again, he’s a more adaptable player which thus makes him an overall stronger all round footballer and he can pass just as well as Messi can, he often just opts not to which is sometimes a shame as it’s a dimension of his game we don’t often see, but when he’s replacing it with tricks and 40 yard rockets it’s forgiven.