Ronaldo v Messi – the absurd timeline of how they have driven each other to break records

Something strange happened the other night. Lionel Messi scored his first knockout goal at the World Cup.

It feels weird – surely one of the all-time greats has scored a goal before? Well, he didn’t and even more strangely, neither did Cristiano Ronaldo.

But if the rest of their careers pass, brace yourself for Ronaldo to change that against Switzerland today.

Because whenever one of them does something, the other tends to follow. Since the couple burst onto the scene in the late 2000s, they’ve been caught up in a game of ‘Whatever you can do, I can do better’ football.

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sport takes you through a remarkable timeline, showing how two of the world’s greatest players have relentlessly pushed each other to new records, trophies, and glorious moments of entertainment.


2006: First World Cup goal

The 2006 World Cup kicked off in Germany, Argentina started their campaign in Group C with a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast.

18-year-old Messi was selected to start the second game against Serbia & Montenegro and the Barcelona youngster scored his first World Cup goal on his tournament debut 6-0.

A day later, in Group D, Portugal played their second match, against Iran. They won 2-0, when 21-year-old Ronaldo scored his first World Cup goal.

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2007-09: The Golden Ball rotates

After scoring 31 goals in the 2007–08 Premier League season as Manchester United defended the title, won the Champions League with eight more goals and contributed four more as Portugal reached the quarter-finals of the Championship. European Championship 2008, Ronaldo won the first Ballon d’Or in his career. Or December of that year.

That season also included the first meetings between Messi and Ronaldo on the field – when Sir Alex Ferguson’s side beat Frank Rijkaard’s Barcelona 1-0 on aggregate in the Champions League semi-final.

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The award ceremony took place right after half of Pep Guardiola’s 2008-09 debut season with Barcelona. In the end, Guardiola’s men lifted the treble, thanks to Messi’s 57 combined goals and assists.

The last of which was Ronaldo’s 70th-minute header against United in the Champions League final in Rome.

After snatching the Champions League trophy, six months later, Messi also beat Ronaldo to win the Ballon d’Or, winning it for the first time in seven years over the next 12 years.


Messi and Ronaldo have won 12 of the previous 14 Ballon d’Or awards (Image: Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)

2010: Captain at the World Cup

Four years on from the 2006 World Cup quarter-final penalty defeat to hosts Germany, Argentina played their first game in South Africa under the guidance of Diego Maradona, who as a player led them to the championship. 1986 and finished as runner-up. up in 1990. Messi, 22, led his national team as captain to a 1-0 opening win over Nigeria.

Three days later and a year after completing a world-record £80m move to Real Madrid from United, Ronaldo also wore the armband against Ivory Coast in a game that ended with a scoreline. number 0-0.

No one advanced further than the quarter-finals as Spain lifted the trophy, but after adapting to Spanish football, Real Madrid’s No 7 took his play to new heights in the 2010 season. -11…

2010-12: Most goals scored in La Liga

Ronaldo scored 53 goals for the club in all competitions during the 2010-11 season. In La Liga, it’s 40 out of 34, breaking the Spanish league’s record for most goals scored in a single season.

That record stood for 60 years, but right in the next La Liga season, Ronaldo topped his new record with 46 goals… and Messi did even better, with 50 goals plus 19 assists.

To measure precisely, Messi’s 14 goals in the 2011-12 Champions League were enough to equal the record for most goals scored in a single season in that competition, including in the previous European Cup format.

Consecutive hat-tricks

Now a Premier League, La Liga and Champions League champion, Ronaldo started the 2013-14 season in superb form, scoring a hat-trick on the opening day of the Champions League group stage against Galatasaray. He sealed a 6-1 away win by skipping two defenders and firing a left-footed shot into the far corner.

With the leadership of Carlo Ancelotti at the Bernabeu, the first Champions League title in a Madrid shirt seems to be in Ronaldo’s hands.

But just a day later, Barcelona arrived at the Camp Nou to face Ajax in their first match. Messi beat his opponents with his own hat-trick, which included one of his first epic free-kicks.

Followed by many obscene goal records…

As that season rattled, Real Madrid headed for the Decima and eventually met city neighbors Atletico in the final. With a penalty in the last minute of extra time to make it 4-1, Ronaldo scored his 17th goal of that Champions League season, surpassing the record set by Messi two seasons earlier.

In La Liga, Real Madrid and Barcelona are tied with 87 points, but Atletico are crowned champions, more than 3 points.

With another real contender in the mix, the Clasico opponents had to raise their previous levels; Messi and Ronaldo have certainly responded, contributing to 129 La Liga goals between them in the 2014-15 season.

An important highlight comes in December. Ronaldo, 29, scored his 200th La Liga goal in another (one) hat-trick, this one against Celta Vigo. The next day, Barcelona met Espanyol in a Catalan derby. Messi returned serve with his own hat-trick, which is odd given that the 27-year-old has hit the 200-goal mark in La Liga in 182 games since Ronaldo arrived in Spain.

A thousand goals

With his top international record, Ronaldo and the Portuguese captain won their first major title — beating hosts France in the Euro 2016 final.

The tournament comes after an extremely competitive year for Ronaldo and Messi.

At the end of January, Messi scored the equalizer in a 2-1 win over Atletico. That means in 24 hours, he and Ronaldo combined to score exactly 1,000 career goals. Ronaldo then raised that number to 1,003 when he scored half of the goal in the 6-0 demolition of Espanyol the next day.

As Barcelona race to another La Liga title, for the sixth time in eight years, Messi scored his seventh La Liga hat-trick in 16 months, netting against Rayo Vallecano in a 5-1 win on March 3. The attention spanned two days, before Ronaldo scored four goals in the 7-1 destruction of Celta Vigo.

He also won the Champions League again that season, the first of Madrid’s three consecutive titles under Zinedine Zidane. That, combined with Portugal’s Euro championship, was enough for the 2016 Ballon d’Or – the fourth golden ball – to go to Ronaldo.

Meanwhile, Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals, a painful habit they had to get used to years after their most recent victory in the 2014-15 season.

Messi started the 2016-17 season on fire, scoring hat-tricks in the first two group stage games against Celtic and Manchester City, setting a record for hat-tricks in league history with seven (before that he and Ronaldo were equal). ). with year).

Notably, Ronaldo was able to score 2 consecutive Champions League hat-tricks in that season. The first came against Bayern Munich in the decisive quarter-final, and the second against Atletico in the first leg semi-final, equaling the Champions League record Messi had set five months ago. (They are now on the level with eight each.)

What a goal!

For a while, it looked like Messi scored one of the best goals of the year. His free-kick against Atletico on 4 March 2018 was superb, sending Jan Oblak across the line and narrowly getting a shot into the top corner of the goal.

A month later, against Juventus in the Champions League quarter-finals, Ronaldo responded. His mesmerizing shot from above remains one of the finest in league history.

Twilight years

The highlight of Ronaldo’s 2018-19 debut season with Juventus was the Champions League. After a 0-2 loss in the first leg to old rivals Atletico Madrid in the round of 16, the Portuguese once again rose to the top with another hat-trick in Turin, sending the Italian club past with Final score 3-2.

Barcelona had some smaller whispers of doubt regarding their chances of reaching the last eight of that season, when Ernesto Valverde’s team played Lyon the following night. The French team drew Barcelona 0-0 in the first leg, so it was Messi’s turn to take control. He scored twice and assisted two more as Barcelona beat them 5-1 at Camp Nou.

As Ronaldo and Messi enter their thirties, their days of record-breaking and monstrous goalscoring are finally coming to an end.

The 2019-20 Champions League Round of 16 saw Juventus lose to Lyon, despite the best efforts of Ronaldo, who scored twice in the second leg, including one from 25 yards. A day later, Messi produced one of his mystic goals as he made half of Napoli’s defense look incompetent, dribbling past and shooting into the bottom corner in a 3-1 win to claim one. qualifying for the quarterfinals.

International Top Scorer

In September last year, Ronaldo became the all-time leading scorer for the national team, hitting 111 goals for Portugal after netting a brace against the Republic of Ireland.

Messi this time took a week to generate similar headlines on his own, his 79th goal for Argentina making him the all-time top South American international goalscorer.

If Ronaldo scores against Switzerland in the World Cup round of 16, it will probably be the last time we see one steal the attention of the other, with Messi leading Argentina into the quarterfinals. in Qatar. Maybe we’re starting to realize how lucky we’ve been to experience it over the past 15 years.

(Top image: Sam Richardson)



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