Another milestone was achieved when Cristiano Ronaldo converted a penalty kick for Portugal in their Euro 2020 qualification game against Ukraine. That was his 700th professional goal for club and country combined.
Of his 700 goals, he scored 95 for Portugal, which means he is just behind 14 strikes behind Iranian great, Ali Daei, who had 109. Of his, the 34-year-old has five goals with Sporting CP where he started, another 118 with Manchester United, a whopping 450 goals with Real Madrid and 32 with his current club Juventus.
By scoring 700 goals Ronaldo joins an elite company of Pele, Gerd Muller, Ferenc Puskas, Romario and Josef Bican who were predatory finishers and scored more. Despite losing the game to Ukraine, Ronaldo’s achievement was quickly plastered by his adoring supporters on social media calling him the greatest player of all time and claiming his rival, Lionel Messi, is incapable of recreating such a feat. As it turns out, Ronaldo’s chief rival, Messi is not far off with just 28 goals short of Ronaldo’s record. The Argentine maestro has 604 for Barcelona and 68 goals for Argentina.
Ronaldo’s achievement deserved congratulations as it was not an easy feat nor a milestone many professional footballers could do. The comparisons to if Messi who trails him could ever get to that milestone is where his supporters are wrong. Ronaldo may have scored 700 goals, but it took him 972 games to achieve the feat meanwhile Messi scored his 672 goals in 828 games.
What that translates to is that Messi has a higher goal ratio of 0.81 ahead Ronaldo’s average of 0.72. That means that statistically, Messi is a better goal scorer than Ronaldo. Also, Ronaldo’s 700 goals will not just be broken by Messi but the Argentine is expected to break it devastatingly with up to 100 games more than his rival.
Messi, unlike Ronaldo, has played for just one club throughout his career. They are both regarded as two of the greatest players of all time. Their trophy haul is identical which is a testament to their consistency, so fans get to compare their careers statistically. One factor that may work in favour of Messi is that he is 32-years old, two years younger than Ronaldo. Messi is just 28 goals behind Ronaldo but has played 148 professional games less, hence, before the end of the 2019/20 season he is expected to score his 700th professional goal.
The conversation, as it is now, will go on for a while seeing as Ronaldo also has the edge on some parameters. The Portuguese has won more champions league titles than the Barcelona captain and even though Barcelona are always one of the favourites for the competition, recent struggles might point towards Messi not adding to his UCL tally.
Ronaldo’s goal tally for Portugal is way ahead of Messi’s for Argentina. The expectation, at this rate, is that Ronaldo would outscore Ali Daei before he hangs his boots, making him the player to have scored the most international goals in history. Messi, with 68 goals, would literally have to perform magic in order to even come close.
After hitting the 700-goal mark, Messi was awarded the European Golden Shoe for emerging the highest goal scorer in European league football. This only goes to show that for whatever the metric is, a conversation about what one does better over the other, and quite frankly who the greater one is, would be a long drawn battle.