Is messi a striker ? Today, it’s difficult to answer “Who’s the best footballer in the world?” with any name other than Lionel Messi’s. Cristiano Ronaldo is the competition. And when the two strikers faced off in El Clasico, the comparison looked even.
Each scored a pair of goals in a 2-2 draw. But since then, Barcelona’s superstar has made it clear that he currently has the edge—even if it’s ever so slight—over Real Madrid’s.
Messi leads all Spanish La Liga scorers with 17 goals this season. He also boasts seven assists. And that production came in just 12 matches.
Ronaldo’s 12 goals and one assist in 13 games don’t measure up, especially when he’s attempted 29 more shots than Messi. Of course, goals accounted for fail to tell the whole story of a player’s performance.
And on that note, WhoScored.com’s rating system ranks Messi’s play this season 1.01 points superior to Ronaldo’s. To put that gap into perspective, it’s equal to the difference between Ronaldo and Zaragoza’s Apono, Betis’ Canas and Espanyol’s Raul Rodriguez. That isn’t a knock on Ronaldo—that’s simply how dominant Messi has been.
Ian Chadband of The Telegraph reported after El Clasico that, despite the tie, Barca coach Tito Vilanova saw such a disparity coming. He claimed of Messi: “He is the best in the world by a big margin.”
Gerd Muller would likely sing the same tune. Since January 1, Messi has scored 80 goals—five short of Muller’s calendar-year record which has lived for four decades.
With all the numbers—including an undefeated La Liga campaign—as well as a couple relevant voices pointing the crown in his direction, Messi is without a doubt the football king. Ronaldo may have held the title of the world’s best footballer in the past.
But today, if two teams were picked, playground-style, to win a single match, who would select Ronaldo over Messi?
Lionel Messi’s footballing takes him to the top
As one of the finest and most exciting footballing talents in the world, serving as a forward or attacking midfielder, Lionel Messi is blessed with outstanding ball control and pace, and is one of the finest players the game has seen.
Messi’s ability to constantly dribble past defenses has been spectacular to watch. He has led the top 5 European leagues in overall successful dribbles over the past 12 years. Messi can thread a through ball between 3+ defenders whether with a ground pass or a long pass; he can locate teammates in narrow spaces and attempt a crazy pass so accurately spectators cannot believe when it is successful.
During his time at Barcelona, he needed to sacrifice his role for his fellow teammate, Luis Suarez, dropping back to midfield and becoming a playmaker first, goal-scorer second. He finished his time at Barcelona with 672 goals and 288 assists.
While Messi is clearly the greatest football player of all time, there are those who may argue Cristiano Ronaldo is equally talented. It is true, when comparing both players in competitions like the Champions League, that Ronaldo has 5 trophies to Messi’s 4. However, Ronaldo cannot beat Messi’s all-time record for most assists, most league goals scored in a calendar year: 59, and current market value of $66 million compared to Ronaldo’s measly $38.5 million.
Messi’s transition from being a winger to a goalscoring midfielder
Lionel Messi’s career is not only full of trophies and impossible feats, but one of the most impressive aspects has been how he’s adjusted to different positions.From his debut under Frank Rijkaard on November 16, 2003, against Jose Mourinho’s Porto to this season with Quique Setien at the helm, the Argentine has been asked to perform different roles at Barcelona.His seasons in terms of goals and assists have varied depending on the position he has played during a season or game.
In the 2019/20 LaLiga Santander campaign, Messi scored 25 goals in 33 games, an impressive tally for most but for the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, it was his worst season in front of goal since Pep Guardiola’s first year in charge in 2008/09, when he got 23 in 31 matches.But there are some seasons, such as in 2011/12, when he netted 50 goals in 37 appearances or the following one when he got 46 in 32 games.The significant statistic with Messi this season is the amount of assists he provided, having set up his teammates to score 21 times in LaLiga Santander.This has been the 33-year-old’s best campaign in terms of assists, with his previous best being 19 in 2010/11 and 17 in 2011/12, both of which were under Guardiola.
All of these changes have a reason. It is because, depending on the position that Messi has played, he has had to assume the role of goalscorer or assist provider.His beginnings as an out-and-out wingerSince his debut, Messi has occupied the right-hand side of the pitch so that he can come inside onto his stronger left foot and cause chaos in the final third, either with a final pass or by shooting himself.His speed and dribbling ability made him a very dangerous winger, but there came a day when Guardiola realised that the Argentine could do more damage in a central position.Messi’s goalscoring figures at the time were impressive but by no means the alien-type numbers he would put up later.
The famous 2-6 at the BernabeuThis, perhaps, is the match that changed the history of Guardiola’s Barcelona and Messi’s position.In this game, the Argentine played as a false nine, in between Lassana Diarra and Fernando Gago and the Real Madrid centre-backs.By having Messi in that role, with Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Yaya Toure as a midfield three behind, they were able to outnumber the Real Madrid’s two men in the middle of the park and dominate things.
“Guardiola changed the system and told [Thierry] Henry to play between the centre-back and the full-back and [Samuel] Eto’o between the centre-back and full-back,” Xavi recalled.”Pep had realised that Madrid’s central defenders never went out to pressure the No.9 of any team.”That’s how Henry’s goal came about and a game that would change the future of the club the Argentine.”Everything that came after is history. The false nine became commonplace in Guardiola’s system and it made Messi a more complete player and a better goalscorer.That change in position led Messi to win three Ballon d’Ors (2009/10, 2011/12 and 2012/13).
His time under Luis EnriqueAfter a disappointing campaign for all involved at Barcelona under Tata Martino in 2013/14, Messi’s role as a false nine started to be questioned as the Catalans clearly missed having a No.9 who could be a reference point in attack and subsequently free up their future captain.The signing of Luis Suarez caused Luis Enrique to think that the best decision was to have Messi in a hybrid winger-No.10 role, albeit slightly more to the right.With Messi on the right of a front three with Luis Suarez in the middle and Neymar on the left, the famous MSN trident was born and Barcelona were able to once again dominate Europe.
Lionel Messi Names the Best Striker He Ever Saw
Barcelona star Lionel Messi has picked the Brazilian Ronaldo as the greatest striker he has ever seen.
The Argentinean wizard, who has in the running for his sixth Ballon d’Or this year, was quizzed on several topics when speaking to TyC Sports, which included the topic of who his favourite striker.
As quoted by AS, Messi replied to a question asking who he thought is the best striker in footballing history: “Ronaldo [Nazario] was a phenomenon. Of all the strikers I ever saw, he was the best. He was unbelievable.”
Widely regarded as one of football’s best, Ronaldo scored 83 goals in 127 games for Real Madrid between 2002 and 2007, after bagging 34 in 37 for rivals Barcelona some years prior. He was rewarded for his goalscoring exploits as he picked up two Ballon d’Or awards in 1997 and 2002, as well as two World Cups with Brazil.
Messi was also asked about who his favourite strike partners have been during his time at Barça, and his answer would also come as no surprise.
“Ronaldinho helped me a lot. I came into the dressing room at 16-17 years of age, seeing all those footballing giants made it tough,” he said.
“But he mentored me and made me feel comfortable, and I loosened up. Afterwards on the pitch, I always looked for him but we didn’t have many years to enjoy together. Besides, we didn’t play as much at that time. I would have liked to play more with Ronaldinho.
“I have played five years with Luis Suárez. Playing every three days, you get used to each other and play by heart. We have children of the same age, spend our lives together every day, and the relationship is growing ever stronger.”
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