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Ballon d’Or: Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi – Who had the better year?


Cristiano Ronaldo won his fifth Ballon d’Or on Thursday (December 7) to go level with Barcelona rival Lionel Messi and claw back another milestone in their ongoing tug-of-war.

The pair are now two clear of legends Michel Platini, Johan Cruyff and Marco van Basten, who all won three between the late 1970s and early 90s.

Ronaldo and Messi have been even more dominant since the Portugal forward won his first in 2008, with Kaka the last player to claim Europe’s top individual honour.

They have enjoyed an immense rivalry over the years which has arguably helped to drive them both on to become the incredible performers that they are.

Ronaldo’s 2017 triumph has been aided by his success with Real Madrid, having helped them to a LaLiga and Champions League double last term, whereas the only silverware Messi lifted was the Copa del Rey.

But which of them actually had the better year statistically? Below, we investigate using Opta numbers…

48 – Messi is just two goals shy of the half-century mark for Barca this year following Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Sporting CP, 11 more than Ronaldo.

97.1 – With his tally of 48 goals coming in 54 matches, Messi is not far from averaging a goal every game, but he has to settle for one every 97.1 minutes. Ronaldo is a little behind at one every 103.35 minutes.

23.41 – Messi also has a better conversion rate at club level, scoring with 23.41 per cent of his shots (excluding blocks), while Ronaldo has been successful with 18.69%.

– Ronaldo became the all-time leading scorer in Europe’s top five leagues in May 17, overtaking Jimmy Greaves (366) in doing so.

600 – In June’s Champions League final, in which he scored twice, Ronaldo passed the 600-goal mark for his career, six weeks after Messi reached 500 for Barca.

– Ronaldo also became only the second player after Alfredo Di Stefano (five) to score in three different European Cup/Champions League finals.

37 – Messi finished top scorer in LaLiga last season, netting 37 times. That was the fourth time he finished a campaign as the league’s most prolific marksman, making it a Barca record.

83.64 – At international level, Ronaldo has averaged a goal every 83.64 minutes, having scored 11 times in as many matches. Messi (four in seven) has scored every 157.5 minutes after a difficult year for Argentina, although a stunning hat-trick against Ecuador snatched World Cup qualification.

122 – One of few areas in which Messi has a clear lead of Ronaldo is chances created, with the Barca star laying on 121 opportunities to team-mates compared to his rival’s 55.


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